Green Series: Waterless Printing

September 24th, 2010 by

The need for water conservation, even in developed countries, is critical. The United Nations warns that over 2.7 billion people will be facing severe water shortages within 15 years if we keep on using water at our current rate.

There are many ways to conserve water, but for designers, one of the most appealing is to find a well-trained printer operating a waterless press.

Done traditionally, printing consumes vast amounts water. One large press will go through hundreds of thousands of liters of water each year.

It doesn’t have to, though.

Waterless printing, an alternative to offset lithographic printing that’s proved successful in Japan, simply takes the need for water out of the question altogether. How is that possible? Well, where conventional printing is a chemical process that uses water to control hydrophobic ink, waterless printing works mechanically. Instead of needing to fine-tune the balance between ink and water, a waterless press uses silicon plates with a deep etch structure and temperature to control the ink. No water needed. It’s a delicate process and it requires a talented printer, but such a printer can get excellent results.

Because waterless presses eliminate the need for fountain solutions, they also significantly reduce the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs cause an array of health issues for press operators, from eye irritation to leukemia.

The other green perk of waterless printing comes in the form of less wasted paper. Waterless presses come up to color and register faster than traditional presses and this can increase paper savings up to 40%.

If you thought you’d have to trade image quality for these benefits, you’re mistaken. Waterless presses deliver better color consistency, color saturation, detail reproduction, and overall sharpness, plus there’s less prep time needed.

Pretty cool, huh?

Waterless presses are currently much harder to find than traditional presses, but with their selling points, they are growing in popularity. You can help boost their viability with your business.