Last time, I listed four characteristics of digital print production that endears it to those looking to green their print marketing. The fact that one of the three primary ink types used by digital presses (HP’s ElectroInk) uses solvent, however, may raise suspicion.
Solvent-based inks are used in other digital production processes—most visibly wide-format inkjet used for applications like banners, vehicle wraps, and signage—and those presses release VOCs and require venting. What makes ElectroInk different?
From an environmental marketing perspective, not all solvents are created equal. In the wide-format/display environment, the inks need to perform two Herculean tasks.
- They must adhere securely to non-paper substrates like vinyl.
- They often must be lightfast.
If they are used for applications like vehicle wraps, they must do both.
In order for an ink to provide both of these characteristics—lightfastness and adherence to non-paper substrates—the solvents must be much “harsher” than those used to in marketing and commercial print. Although HP “Indigo” presses can print on non-paper substrates, the applications for which it is used are “wide-format light.” The inks are not being asked to perform at the same level as those for wide-format applications.
Thus, while inks for liquid toner presses (HP) do use “inks” made of pigment suspended in solvent, those solvents are so mild that they do not have the same environmental impact as their wide-format cousins.
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