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Solvent-based Ink

Inaccuracies in communication sometimes called ‘greenwashing’ is a significant problem when using solvent-based inks

Solvent-based inks use alcohol to speed up the drying process once the ink is printed onto a surface.

Solvent-based inks use alcohol to speed up the drying process once the ink is printed onto a surface.

Solvent-based ink definition

Inks are used during the printing process to transfer your image onto the material using flexographic, lithographic, offset or digital methods.

All printing inks contain a pigment of colour, a binder (also called the base) which sticks the pigment to the surface, and a solvent to spread the ink over the desired area evenly. Additives are sometimes added to increase the ink’s durability. 

Solvent-based inks have binders (bases) and that are based on solvent. In this case, the active solvent is “2,6-di-tert-butyl-p-cresol”, or butylated hydroxytoluene.

Why you should use solvent-based inks

Butylated hydroxytoluene is a naturally occurring alcohol, derived from both phytoplankton and the lychee fruit [1] . This means that the byproduct and fumes emitted during the printing process need some form of filtering before being released into the atmosphere, but they are not volatile. These fumes are also less hazardous to people in the immediate manufacturing/printing compared to petroleum-based inks. 

While they do require external energy sources to cure in the form of heat lamps, they cure harder and are more durable than water-based inks. Efficient manufacturing processes mean that very little heat energy is wasted, and the bulbs used are specifically designed to eliminate heat-wastage. 

Solvent-based inks use less water and therefore produce less grey-water that needs to be treated. 

As the solvent is completely removed through evaporation [2] , solvent-based inks break down and decompose in landfill and leave only organic waste in the process. 

Why shouldn’t use solvent-based inks

Solvent-based inks do require added energy to dry, compared to water-based inks that dry in ambient temperatures. Depending on the facility, this energy may or may not come from a renewable resource. 

While the alcohol that’s used in the solvent comes from natural sources (phytoplankton and the lychee fruit), these sources do have to be farmed and harvested. 

Packhelp and solvent-based inks

Packhelp uses solvent-based inks on printing designs that are complex (using gradients) and use the offset printing technique. All Packhelp’s solvent-based inks adhere to ISO 16758 [3] .

Frequently asked questions

How does ink affect the material’s compostability or recyclability?

Petroleum-based products in your ink make it harder for the product to be recycled, composted or biodegrade. Solvent-based inks used on biodegradable or compostable products leave no residue.

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