Industrial Inkjet Printing Industry: Sustainable Developments for the Future

In the past few years, sustainability has become an increasingly important topic for both consumers and businesses. Publications like Forbes have repeatedly demonstrated that customers respond positively to companies that make environmental-conscious choices. In one study, it was shown that 88% of consumers value ethical practices and want brands to become environmentally friendly. 

For businesses, this creates an opportunity to not only increase customer outreach but eliminate sources of waste as well. 

This conversation about sustainability has made its way into the world of inkjet printers. Inkjet equipment, such as continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers, thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers, and high-resolution case coders, are commonly used by industrial manufacturers to make products ready for distribution.

Recent advancements in inkjet technology have allowed for sustainable developments in the printing industry through the elimination of waste and use of more environmentally friendly supplies.

Printing Industry Sustainable Development Steps

Fewer Mistakes = Less Waste

A nonconforming product (NCP) is any product that does not align with specified requirements regarding usage, physical dimensions, or appearance. If NCPs are sent to clients, it can sour the partnership and lead to expensive recalls. To avoid these scenarios, companies establish processes that verify the conformity of each part. If a part fails inspection, it is often discarded to avoid accidental shipment. 

Manufacturing failure isn’t the only source of NCPs—misprinted packaging is a common reason as well. 

Unreliable printers can misprint information or create unscannable barcodes. In these cases, the packaging is rendered useless and thrown away. Today’s modern intuitive printers like the DuraCode Touchscreen prevent coding mistakes through a few different measures:

  • Ingress Protection (IP) Enclosures: These protect against dust particles and water damage—two elements that can negatively affect code quality. 
  • Environmental Adjustments: This automatically adjusts for viscosity and ink type with changes in the operating environment which allows it to be more efficient.
  • Automatic Monitoring Systems (AMS): These ensure quality consistency by notifying the user of potential print issues during operation. 

By cutting down on NCPs, productions can lower the overall amount of material waste.

More Environmentally-Friendly Inks

Beyond upgrading hardware, the printing industry is also focusing on making more sustainable ink formulas. Environmental studies have shown that certain ink formulas can have negative effects during recycling, decomposition, etc. In response, previously popular ink types are being phased out for more sustainable alternatives. Below are two common examples:

Mineral Oil-Free

Mineral oil is an imprecise term that refers to a mixture of higher alkanes, most commonly sourced from distilled petroleum. During the 2010s, mineral oil-containing ink became a source of controversy in Europe. European researchers found evidence that using mineral oil on food packaging frequently leads to hydrocarbon carbonation. 

Consequently, in 2018, the European Trade Association and International Confederation of Paper and Board Converters made a recommendation that the food industry only use mineral oil-free (MOF) ink formulas for their packaging. 

Ink developers like InkJet, Inc. have taken this recommendation seriously by producing lines of MOF inks. The use of these inks protects consumers from contamination and helps food companies keep their good reputations with their customers. 

Improved Microsphere Inks

Years ago, water-based pigment style microsphere inks were popularly used to print on plastic substrates. Generally speaking, plastic substrates do not respond well to water-based inks—plastic’s non-porous surface is better suited for solvent-based inks. However, the microsphere ink’s ammonia content allowed it to successfully cure on plastic. 

Although the ink worked, the pH content negatively affected printers, shortening their lifespans. This led to increased hardware costs for companies and a loss of resources. Now, ammonia-free alternatives are widely available for plastic marking. 

Fewer Packaging Materials Required

High-performing hardware and more environmentally-friendly ink are sustainable developments in and of themselves. Additionally, they can be used by companies to reduce packaging material needs. 

Both thermal inkjet printers like the Anser X1 and high-resolution case coders like the Precision Series 72 are capable of placing high-resolution text on shipping containers. By placing shipping information directly onto the package, companies can eliminate the need for separate labels. The material reduction helps companies more readily meet their green targets. 

Want To Make Your Operation More Sustainable? InkJet, Inc. Can Help

In recent years, the printing industry has promoted sustainability developments through upgrading machines and offering improved ink formulas. Reliable hardware helps cut down on material waste, environmentally-friendly inks promote green initiatives, and expanded printing applications reduce material needs. With these capabilities, companies can both make their operations more efficient and have a positive impact on the world.  

At InkJet, Inc. we have the tools and expertise necessary to help companies become more sustainable. Contact us today to get started.