GERMANY – Print shops searching for ways to reduce the amount of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) used in their operations may now have the answer; Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG is now offering a fully comprehensive solution for alcohol-free printing that incorporates coordinated machine Components, consultancy services and Saphira consumables.
The solution will be available for other models and for UV print applications by drupa 2012, says Heidelberg, which also claims to be the only manufacturer to offer such a package
New additions include special dampening rollers with modified surface materials and structures and an extended range of features in the new CombiStar Pro. The package is rounded off by special Saphira dampening solution additives and comprehensive consulting services and will initially be available for the Speedmaster XL 105, SM/CD/CX 102, and XL 75 series for use with conventional inks. Previously installed presses from these series can be upgraded.
Although IPA plays an important role in offset printing – it reduces the surface tension of dampening solution, ensures better wetting of rollers and printing plates, and stabilizes the ink-water balance – the alcohol evaporates completely into the pressroom and can lead to health problems such as headaches, dizziness and eye irritation for printers.
In addition, the highly flammable IPA contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone, also known as summer smog. The chemical is also an extra cost factor that is exacerbated by statutory requirements that vary from country to country.
"We want the IPA-free Package to make it easier for our customers to switch to alcohol-free printing and to show that environmentally friendly solutions can also be cost-effective," explains Stephan Plenz, Member of the Management Board responsible for Heidelberg Equipment. “There is already very strong interest for this type of solution in Europe, but demand is also growing among customers in Asia and Africa.”
Bastian Druck, based near Trier, southwest Germany, is one example of a print shop that has switched over production on both its Speedmaster XL 105 presses to zero percent IPA.
"We set ourselves up as a climate-neutral print shop and are constantly striving to go one step further, not just for our own sake, but because we feel it is our responsibility to do so for our environmentally conscious customers. But words need to be backed up by deeds. Alcohol-free offset printing was clearly the next step," explains Gerrit Schneider, production manager at Bastian Druck.
"There are no limitations and we are now printing commercial work, packaging, and labels with far more gloss and color fidelity," says Schneider.