BOBST developed successful water-based applications on its gravure presses, utilizing Siegwerk’s new formulation WB inks. The partnership with the ink manufacturer aims to present ink formulas that will set quality levels in gravure printing and which have much lower VOC content.

According to BOBST, increased government regulation globally and public opinion favors new greener technologies, which presents opportunities for gravure to be coupled with more sustainable manufacturing technologies aimed at making alternative greener process applications more efficient. The company says water-based inks greatly reduce VOC emissions, as they most often contain a maximum of 30% solvents in the formula, but there is a push in the market to develop inks without solvent and printing presses, that can handle water-based inks efficiently.

In China, gravure is a mature and dominant technology, and the government has introduced particularly stringent regulations. As of July 2020, a trial implementation regarding commodity-packaging printing for government purchase in China recommends that the content of VOCs in the ink used is not to exceed 5% by weight, and no more than six colors should be printed on each package.

“It is time to rethink packaging and let water-based inks flourish in a circular packaging system. A water-based ink system is a more environmentally friendly and green technology, essential for the future of the ink industry,” says Jimmy Goh, head of Technical Flexible Packaging China.

“The main objective of the partnership with Siegwerk is to increase the sustainability of gravure printing and enable flexible packaging converters to comply with new regulations,” says Jonathan Giubilato, product line manager gravure, BOBST. “Sustainability is a core pillar of BOBST’s vision of the future of packaging printing, and it is essential that companies in leading positions work together to advance environmentally-friendly solutions and establish a benchmark for new technologies.”

BOBST says the BOBST RS 3.0 PLUS gravure press combines high-speed and quality with water-based inks without compromising on quality and was instrumental in earning BOBST Changzhou a certification as a Demonstration and Training Base for Alternative Applications to VOCs in the Packaging and Printing Industry from the Printing and Printing Equipment Industries Association of China (PEIAC).

The recently launched BOBST VISION RS 5003, which is the next evolution of the NOVA RS 5003 — a gravure press in the Asian market and beyond — has the following attributes:

  • Runs at 450 m/min and is fully compatible with water-based inks
  • Features high efficiency, extended twin flow dryers and ventilation system for energy savings
  • Unique winders with energy recovery
  • Lower Explosion Limit (LEL) system to avoid emissions into the atmosphere
  • The ability to print on thinner and more eco-friendly substrates
  • An increased level of automation, helping to enable water-based, high-speed printing

“Putting together BOBST’s extensive and long experience in gravure printing press technology and Siegwerk’s strong expertise and knowhow in printing inks means that we can deliver a viable and much more competitive solution for WB inks,” says Giubilato. “Together, we will lead the way in innovation in water-based gravure, as BOBST accelerates the implementation of our future vision for the packaging printing industry – built on automation, digitalization, connectivity and sustainability.”

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