Ink conference throws light on the way forward

By 21 Nov 2022

The theme was the next generation of ink and coating/printing technology trends and was hosted by the All India Printing Ink Manufacturers Association. A packed house attended the full day conference at the Courtyard Marriott. Also in attendance were PVG’s COET members: Prof Shrikala Kanade, Prof Padmaja Joshi, Sanmay Jain, Kaustubh Patil and Dnyaneshwar Bhor who are final year students.

The lamp lighting event before the AIPIMA Asia Coat + Ink show begins

After the welcome address by R Sridharan, the president of AIPIMA and a brief introduction by Dr MP Raghav Rao, chairman of the International Conference, the chief guest of the conference, Prof AB Pandit, Vice Chancellor, the Institute of Chemical Technology in address explained the constituents of printing inks. He pointed out that there are four components. These are:  pigments and dyes; medium to dissolve; additives and substrate. In addition, there is a dispersion mechanism which helps in mixing the pigments without destroying the structure of the ink. He said, “The ink set has to achieve high quality print . The key to this development is the relationship between the ink, fount and substrate with a wide utilisation bandwidth to ensure optimal performance with those substrates that are commercially available today.”

Pandit added that many substrates are available and to print on such a substrate, printing inks are available with the required properties. The way forward will be colour perception. And psychology indicates that a colour is a mood generator. Therefore, colour therapy is the way forward in the printing ink industry. For any product, colour appearance should be soothing to the eye in terms of aesthetics of the product. Only partial exploration is done so far and more research is needed and so is the expertise in this field.

Next Snehasis Roy, the technical director of Times Group, who was the guest of honour at the conference provided brief information about ultra-high speed ink requirements. Such inks are needed in the newspaper industry. He mentioned that the hazardous material comes from coloured pigments and 80% of the money is used on disposing of pigments. There are problems that occur when using inks on ultra-high-speed presses and the challenges are regarding their structure, flow, tack, and emulsification.

He touched upon the energy price crisis which has impacted the newspaper heatset printers hard, dramatically increasing the costs involved with running the gas ovens on their presses. Rising costs and sustainability agenda are the top-two priorities for web offset printers today.

The keynote speaker of the conference Shailesh Nema, the managing director, Michelman India who addressed that sustainability is the need of the hour. He pointed out various steps in sustainable flexible packaging. Today India generates more than 1.5 lakh tonnes of solid waste out of which only 20% of waste is processed and the remaining 80% is dumped in landfill. Polyester, metallised PE are of biggest concern. There is an urgent need to shift from non recyclable materials to 100% recyclable structures.

He said, there are five mantras to ensure sustainability. These are: consumer awareness, conscious capitalism, legislation and regulations, extended producers’ responsibility and recycling and biodegradability. Nema said collaboration with key stakeholders is a must and lesser ambiguities in regulations would also help towards better plastic management. He also mentioned that  few companies such as ITC, Nestle, and Unilever are trying to be completely sustainable.

After which it was time for the technical sessions. The first session by Jose San of Toyo Ink focussed on giving proposals of eco-design packaging from the point of view of inks and coatings. Novo examined Five proposals for eco-design packaging is paper /paper board recyclability and eliminating film lamination and adding barrier coating on the carton; paper board barrier coating – paper packaging free from plastic; biodegradability - heal sealing, so that ink will not interfere in biodegradability of the substrate; film packaging - move to mono material and finally UV block coatings - up to 97% of UV blockage. Jose Novo felt designers and brand managers should consider these points while developing the package. Novo shared with the audience about Toyo’s EB017 Next GP PLA-based ink. This is an environmentally friendly ink that doesn’t interfere when the package is going to degrade.


Jose San of Toyo Ink

After which, Rajesh Srivastava, the senior vice president of the Chemicals Business at Uflex presented a technical session about the sustainable and energy efficient inks for safe food packaging. He mentioned that 60-70 % of purchase decisions were made by consumers at the shelf. If the package is not well designed and printed, then the customer will think twice before purchasing it. He mentioned during manufacturing of printed products the intentionally and non-intentionally added substances can migrate into the food. The challenges faced by flexible packaging and labels are speed, low GSM, compliance, focus on sustainability, and monolayer structures.  Srivastava provided information about the latest trends and new-generation ink such as EB and LED inks, water-based inks, barrier coatings, and low-viscosity PU inks. He also mentioned that non-toluene inks should be used for flexible packaging.

Dr Dipshikha Banerjee, the head of UV and EB Laboratory, Siegwerk, India talked about reconfiguring ink and coating solutions for a circular future. She said, “Today, ink and coating are way more than what meets the eye.” Following were the concepts she touched upon: linear economy - use and throw; circular economy - give back to earth; design for less; design for recycling. Banerjee explained how we can reduce or reuse plastic by using various techniques. For example, no plastic paper cups, which reduces the use of PE. By using the removable labels, we can reuse the plastic packaging material again. In the laboratory of Siegwerk, the ink scientists are working on innovation in the deinking of the plastic material. With the help of PolycirQs de-inking is possible to convert printed waste films to virgin-like recyclate.

Indrajit N Bhattacharya, the manager of Miwon Speciality Chemicals highlighted the latest trends in UV curable coatings. He mentioned how Miwon was focused on bio-based products for a sustainable environment. The main components of UV coatings are monomers, and photo-initiator tend to migrate as they are having low-molecular weights. So, he suggested using multi-functional high molecular weighted monomers, also to use polymeric photo-initiators. He also mentioned in his speech how LED curing saves 65% of operational energy. Hexa-functional polyester acrylates which are oligomers can be used to develop the viscosity of about 370 cPs at room temperature.

Later, Adesh Malkar, the manager of graphic arts at BYK India spoke about the trends and way forward in graphic arts by BYK additives. To achieve this, BYK uses the PFO (Perc Floro Oxacto ink) and the standard process used for this is silicon-based. Another material they used was IoS MAT 0066, which is a surface coating material. BYK is the No.1 for providing water-based ink. bio based material is the future. Bio materials are sustainable and renewable.

Amit Shah, the managing director of Spectrum Scan spoke about the importance of value addition in print and how embellishments are important for differentiation on the shelf. Shah pointed out how the post-finishing operation plays an important role in the differentiation of printed samples. Post-finishing operations such as hot foiling, cold foiling, embossing, and thermo-transfer foil can be deployed in addition to printed samples. He also mentioned that these value-addition techniques are also responsible for the enhancement of the quality of a printed product. He also mentioned that MSMEs (Micro Small Medium Enterprises) printers are the biggest contributor to representing the printing business all over India.


Amith Shah of Spectrum Scan

After the lunch break, Prof Suhas Pednekar, former vice chancellor, Mumbai University talked about how to manage your energy more than your time. This was a talk about leadership and how to cultivate leadership qualities.

After which, Lasantha Ferris, the executive director of Fujifilm Sericol India spoke about next-generation inkjet ink. . He introduced the Fujifilm Sericol ink solution group. He mentioned that this group is dealing with wide-format inkjet systems. He said, the outdoor durability of the UV-Light pigments is three to five years, the same as normal solvents. However the customer benefits with UV is the abrasion resistance, scratch resistance, which is dramatically enhanced compared with eco-solvent. This reduces the requirement for lamination for the majority of applications. He mentioned the printing ways single pass and multi-pass. For textile printing, aqueous ink can be used in both ways single-pass and multi-pass. For labels, only single pass technique is used where the print head remains stationary and web roll moves.  Meanwhile the group is working on a different water-UV hybrid ink for its own forthcoming Jet Press F digital carton press. 

Srirangarajan Santhanam of Ystral discussed the fundamentals of printing ink processing which starts with multiple stages of preparation. Santhanam emphasised on the importance of ‘agitated bead milling’ step where we improve the quality of the bead. Then he talked about the quality influencing factors for the bead which include – product viscosity, bead charge, bead size, initial particle size, power density etc. Then, he explained the bead milling process, in which we take a cylindrical shell with an agitating disk which imparts energy. He also mentioned the role of viscosity. He said that the number of beads increases exponentially as they reduce the size of the beads. Then, he showed a comparison of the preparation of the beads with a local machine and Ystral’s machine and the change in the specific energy requirement. He also discussed flow rate and its effects. Finally, he showed some principles behind the mill machines.

Dr Joyti Vastrad, the professor, department of textile and apparel designing presented her academic research. Her presentation was rendered virtually. She discussed the materials that can be used for printing on textiles and other materials. Her team faced some challenges while extracting dyes from those naturally occurring materials. Then she showed images of the samples that were printed using those natural materials. She also talked about the role of sustainability and its implementation in this research. She also showed some new materials that had the potential to be used in the field of textile printing.

The final session of the ink conference was presented by Sagar Singh, the deputy director of the Bureau of Indian Standards. He spoke about the legal responsibilities of safe packaging materials, which lies with the food business operators and manufacturers. Then he shared some information about certain IS standards which were renewed. Then he spoke about the materials which pose a danger to the environment which are used in this industry. He also mentioned some initiatives that are taken by the BIS to increase and urged industry participation in following these standards. Lastly Sagar Singh gave us information about how to get the provision of commenting on documents by any stakeholder, provision for making a request to become a new member in the sectional committee and proposal of new work items.

As always, DM Sathaye, the chairman of United Inks delivered the vote of thanks.

(This report is by PVG’s COET members: Sanmay Jain, Prof Shrikala Kanade and Prof Madhura Mahajan)

Ink Open House - panel discussion on sustainability

In this open house discussion Ramu Ramanathan posed various questions to the four industry A-Listers who were part of the panel discussion. On sustainability and circular economy there was a solid dialogue whether circular economy is possible for inks. And what can be recovered and reused. After which Jose San of Toyo talked about life cycle analysis (LCA) studies for various ink systems (paste - offset, liquid - water, solvent, varnishes, coatings etc). And what is the way forward? Later Ajay Kohli spoke about easy and clean recovery of substrates (paper, plastic) and how it is important for a circular economy. He spoke about the newer developments at Archroma and how barrier coatings facilitate better recovery as compared to MLP. Nagesh Kamath of Sudarshan Chemical spoke about the statistical measure of pigments; and threw light on the total reserves of pigment raw material and what is the rate at which we are consuming. Later he focussed on how companies are succeeding in making pigments.

Ramakrishna Karanth emphasised that each converter and manufacturer should look at circularity, sustainability and prevent plastic waste to end up as landfill and oceans. Karanth emphasised on the inclusion of ragpickers in plastic waste management.

On 31 December 2017, when China put a halt to a lot of the plastic waste - like single-use soda bottles, food wrappers, and plastic bags — that country had 5,000 recycling companies with 10 million people working in the industry. India’s numbers don't add up. Already mixed paper and polymers are languishing at recycling plants across the Western world. By 2030, the Chinese ban might leave 111 million MT of plastic trash with nowhere to go.


"Sustainability is business imperative," say the panelists

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