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Environmental Impact of Inkjet Inks 101 with Jim Lambert, VP of INX International

One of the things that I most enjoy of visiting big expos is having the opportunity to chat with key people of large companies and know their point of view of different topics that involve the industry.

Having the opportunity to visit a trade show is a rewarding experience, both professionally and personally. One of the things that I most enjoy of visit big expos is having the opportunity to chat with key people of large companies and know their point of view of different topics that involve the industry.

During the first day of SGIA I had the opportunity to chat about “the environmental impact of inkjet ink” with the Vice President of the well know ink company INX International, Jim Lambert.


Jim Lambert, Vice President of INX International Ink. SGIA 2018.


Q: What do you think about the commitment of the inkjet ink companies with the environment?

As a company we feel very physically responsible to our environment.

I’m not the best one to define this for you, but there is a slow generates tagline for chemicals in the United States call SNURs (Significant New Use Rules) and if there is a chemical that’s denoted that and it causes problems for disposal. If it gets for example, in the ground water it’s not very good for fish. Its ok for you and I, we can touch it, put it all over our hands, but if you were to dispose of it will get in the ground water and it would be you know, from an environmental standpoint will not be a very good thing.

As a company we have made it to shy away from using SNURs material. It’s a business decision we made because we feel responsible for what we do as a company; we want to leave this a better world after we are not here.

So that’s an example of how we really are eco-friendly in what we produce. Now there are some cases of some ink formulas that there are absolutely required but we will actually try to formulate all of that out of our formulas before we use it because of the effects that has on the environment if its not disposed properly.

Q: That’s interesting, because we have seen in some exhibitions in other countries the people just throw away the ink waste in the toilets and it goes into the rivers and oceans.

I actually really believe that China is starting to wake up because of the blue-sky initiative that they have now. I really feel like that they realize what they have done to the environment, especially with the population size that they have and they are going to have to make really tuff decisions moving forward just because the quality of life of the people.

Q: Do you think that ink companies have done enough?

I can generally say that because of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) here in the States and a lot of ink companies are physically responsible, they are doing a lot of the right things. I don’t see anyone of them that is really throwing caution at the wind that could harvest you know, down the road.

Outside the United States again, I’m probably not the best one to ask but I have been there and traveled there. You know we are owned by SAKATA a Japanese ink company and they are very very stringent on what we do and our policies.

China, I see that there is again a lack of understanding. The European market has very stringent regulations and the regulatory bodies there are very difficult, so I think the world is really getting it and I think the world is very cognizant of what we have done in the past and how we need to make those changes. Some of them are more aggressive changing than others.

Q: What would be a good way to dispose ink waste?

Depends of what type, there are a number of different agencies in the United States that will take your disposal drums and take them to their facilities. 90% of the time it’s burned to its lowest common denominator and that will take care of it.

Q: The world is changing now and so are the companies. For example here (at SGIA expo) you can see a lot of UV LED and Latex printers.  What do you think of this technology?

A lot of people call it water-based or hybrid. We like that a lot. SAKATA our parent company is very heavy in developing water-based fluids.  The thing about UV it’s extremely convenient. The problem with UV is the photo initiators that are in there to initiate this cross-linking of the material. Photo initiators if they are not cured property they will migrate into different packages, different content of the package.

So lets say you have a plastic container, a water bottle, and you printed on that water bottle on the outside. There are some materials of that ink that will actually migrate into the product or into the water because they haven’t been full cured. All of that cross-linking has not taking place and the photo initiators are the cold prep of that problem. So you will see a lot of people that are using UV in an application where it doesn’t require contact with skin or something like that and those are great market for that.

Signage market it’s a great market for the UV market, for Coroplast or plastic or something like that because you are not licking it, you are not touching it, you are not consuming it and its not contaminating something that you are going to eat or drink. But the latex market, the water-based market is for anything that’s required to be safe for human consumption, it’s absolutely the way to go.

Q: What do you think of latex technology?

I think in the long run you will see a lot more aqueous printers hitting the market, because it’s the safest thing to have.

Q: A lot of people talk about the latex energy consumption, what’s your stand on that?

I really look at the health issue more than I do the energy consumption issue. So for me the health issue kind of ranges most important and is the priority. For example I will never drink out of something that I knew has UV ink on the side of it, which has to touch my lips. Because that would be, something that might lead a little bit of danger for my health.

Q: Now that you mention UV, do you think UV-LED ink is healthier than regular UV?  

The LED inks versus the regular UV inks, at least what I understand, the only difference is the photo initiators that are used and how they cure.  The photo initiators are harmful if they are not cross-link, regardless what way link of light are used to cure it.

So if you are using a mercury vapor bulb it’s a little easier to cure because the receptiveness of the ink it’s much wider. The LED inks the bandwidth or the wave light it’s much narrower, so if you are outside of that it doesn’t cure it and might be a little more risky.

What is interesting about UV inks is that it all depends on the substrate. So if you were printing UV inks on glass, which is a natural barrier you don’t have to worry about migration, because it’s glass and doesn’t penetrate the glass. If you are printing on a plastic bottle that has some sort of chemicals that allow something to permeate through that plastic bottle, then it’s a different story.

So I will say both are bad if you don’t cure them, if you don’t have a machine that cures them property.

Q: What is new from INX, for helping the environment, the next step?

We have some eco-friendly solvent inks that are doing very very well. What you would see from us in the very near future is that we are looking to develop low migration UV inks.

If anyone tells you that they have no-migration UV inks they are might not be very truthful because almost every UV ink even if you do a great job cross-linking they all migrate in some degree. But there is such a thing as having low migration UV ink and that’s all a photo initiator package that you use. So we are working stringently on low low low migration inks. I’m not going to say no-migration inks because I would not be truthful but we are working on a low migration UV ink. Every day we got in a very low and we are trying to get even better.

The migration tests that we do are absolutely specific to the substrate that they are printed on, because everyone is different and it’s very important to know that.

INX INTERNATIONAL is one of the largest producers of ink in North America and a global supplier as part of Sakata INX worldwide operations.
Their product focus on metal decorating, flexographic, gravure, web offset, lamination, corrugated, sheetfed, inkjet and UV/EB inks and coatings. www.inxinternational.com


INX Digital printed samples.



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