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Take a Deep Breath: Stabilizing Ink to Reduce Solvent Evaporation

Posted by James Dulong

May 15, 2017 8:30:00 AM

stack of magazines with consistent print color.jpgPeople that claim print is dead are exaggerating the demise of the industry. Sure, newspapers and magazines have struggled to maintain readerships, but they are many areas where the print industry continues to thrive.

Look around you. Chances are, you see something that required some form of precise commercial printing. Whether it is a mailed advertisement, a potato chip package, a book, or a billboard, the color and clarity of that printed product relied on carefully managed formulations and viscosity control.

For printers to succeed and increase profit margins, they will need to remain focused on improving printing methods that will allow them to achieve their goals efficiently and accurately. Unfortunately, there are some real physical and chemical-based challenges that can prevent printers from streamlining their processes and eliminating waste and expenses.

Consistency Starts with Viscosity

The thickness of the printing ink is one of the chief factors that controls just how a magazine, newspaper, pamphlet or other product looks when it rolls off a press. When you have any kind of variation in viscosity, this change impacts the appearance of the printed material.

You may see color variations, smearing, blotting, hazy images, or any number of other print issues. Many printers will use solvents to maintain a consistent viscosity, adding solvents to thin the ink and  deliver the desired level of viscosity.

However, printing is a relentless, high-speed, mechanical process. All those moving parts often contribute to the solvent evaporating, requiring even more solvent to be added to maintain quality control. But in handling the viscosity issue this way, more time and resources are used up, and the evaporating solvent negatively impacts the environment. Harmful toxins and other fumes are burned off and released into the air as a result of a heavy reliance on solvents, creating a potentially unsafe, and unclean environment.

Stabilizing Ink Through Temperature Control

While viscosity can be controlled through the addition of solvents, that’s not the only way that the control be can be maintained. Temperature can also play a major role when properly applied. That’s been more difficult to do in years past, but now, with more advanced, fine-tuned technology, it’s a more viable and efficient way to achieve desired results than simply throwing in more alcohol-based solvents that evaporate with exposure to air.

Most people are familiar with the idea that temperature affects the thickness of a fluid. If temperature drops below a certain point, liquid becomes so thick it solidifies --- like ice. If the liquid gets too hot, it evaporates, like water to steam.

But even within a smaller window of temperature change of just a few degrees, fluctuations in temperature can have an effect on viscosity. During the printing process, temperature changes are introduced at many phases, from storage of the ink to final application on the press. It’s these changes that requires printers to add solvents and make adjustments to maintain adequate viscosity.

However, with a temperature control system, you can minimize the addition of solvents, as a steady ink temperature will maintain a consistent viscosity. Temperature control can stabilize your ink and deliver consistent results in color intensity and quality, and with less solvent required to do so.

The result is greater efficiency and more reliable results – which can only help your operations and your budget.

Learn about the tools and techniques that can help you to control viscosity in your print operations. Get your free copy of our Viscosity Control Buyer's Guide.

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Topics: Printing

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