Waterless printing, as the name implies, does not require the use of bucket water (dampening solution) in the printing process, and has a small environmental load. The emergence of waterless computer-to-plate (CTP) makes more of the good characteristics of waterless printing, which is a printing method that is in line with social sustainable development.

The waterless printing technology was first introduced by the American 3M company in the 1970s. Afterwards, Toray Corporation of Japan purchased patents and developed them. It achieved industrialization and continued to show its strong vitality and demand in Japan, Europe and the United States. In 1990, Dongguan Jinbei Printing Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Jinbei) successfully tested the use of waterless printing technology, but due to the high price of materials at that time, and the constant temperature equipment technology of the ink roller could not keep up, it failed to promote the waterless printing technology Into daily production. By 2006, Jinbei began to formally use waterless printing technology. At present, at least one-third of the printing machines of Jinbei use waterless printing for production.

In recent years, environmental protection has become a hot topic, and waterless printing technology has received more and more attention from peers. Through years of use, the author summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of some waterless printing.

Waterless printing is extremely environmentally friendly

Traditional offset printing relies on the principle of mutual repulsion of water and ink, so that places where there is no image are hydrophilic without ink and places where there are images are not hydrophilic with ink, but water can also cause various printing quality problems, such as excessive emulsification of ink Traces, etc., need to add alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) to reduce the side effects caused by water. But at the same time, isopropyl alcohol will also produce volatile organic compounds (VOC), causing environmental impact.

The waterless printing plate belongs to the flat intaglio structure, and its graphic part is in the concave part, with ink; the silicone coating on the printing plate has no ink, and no fountain solution is needed. This has several advantages.

First, since the anhydrous version does not contain water and isopropyl alcohol, it does not produce volatile organic compound (VOC) and dampening waste liquid emissions, which is beneficial to protecting the health of operators, improving the production environment of the workshop, and environmental protection.

Secondly, the waterless plate is processed by water developing method. The plated water can be easily processed, does not contain harmful substances, and is an environmentally friendly printing material.

Third, water-free printing uses environmentally friendly plant-based oil-based water-free ink, safe and environmentally friendly.

Fourth, due to the effect of water in traditional offset printing, the dot expansion rate is relatively large; the dot expansion rate of waterless printing is relatively small, which can make the printed images bright and bright, rich in color levels, and can effectively improve the quality.

Fifth, waterless printing solves the original problems caused by water, effectively shortens the calibration time, reduces the number of trial printing samples, reduces the amount of defective products, and also saves the cost of materials such as fountain solution. From this perspective, waterless printing helps to save production costs.

Higher costs become a bottleneck for popularity

Despite the benefits of waterless printing, there are currently only a few domestic printing companies that use this technology. The large initial investment and high material prices have become the bottleneck restricting the popularization of this technology.

First, waterless printing needs to be equipped with various auxiliary equipment and devices, and the initial investment is relatively large.

In terms of pre-press, since the water-free plate is made by tap water and a brush, the unwanted silicone layer is peeled off to make a plate. The development principle is different from the ordinary PS plate, and a dedicated plate-making machine is required.

In the printing process, due to the greater viscosity of the water-free ink, and the water-free printing does not have water evaporation and vaporization can take away and absorb part of the heat generated by the printing machine, once the temperature is too high, it will form the traditional printing "water dry" Effect on printing quality. Therefore, it is necessary to install a constant temperature device on the ink roller to ensure that the water-free ink is at the optimal printing temperature.

The implementation of waterless printing must also pay special attention to the management of temperature and humidity in the production environment. When the indoor temperature changes too much, the viscosity of the ink will also change, which will hinder stable printing. In addition, when humidity is lacking in the air, static electricity is easily generated and it is difficult to collect paper. Therefore, some equipment and devices must be installed in the printing workshop to maintain temperature and humidity.

Second, the price of printing materials and inks for waterless printing is higher than traditional printing. Since water-free printing requires the use of special water-free inks and water-free plate materials, the price of these materials is higher than that of ordinary offset materials, especially plate materials. At present, all anhydrous plate materials are imported from Japan, lack of competition, and prices remain high. Recently, Toray Corporation of Japan has started to cooperate with domestic manufacturers and plans to produce anhydrous plate materials in China. It is believed that the price of anhydrous plate materials will decrease.

The General Administration of Press and Publication and the Ministry of Environmental Protection formally signed the "Strategic Cooperation Agreement for the Implementation of Green Printing" in 2010, and jointly issued the "Announcement on the Implementation of Green Printing" in 2011. It can be seen that green printing will become the main direction of China's printing industry in the future. The environmental protection performance of waterless printing is superior, and it can also improve the quality of printing. However, at this stage, the cost of use is relatively high, and enterprises that produce high-end printed products can also consider investing. In the future, the development prospect of waterless printing will be very broad.

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