Printing inks are tailor-made products developed to meet specific print technology and end user demands. In order to serve those demands, today there are more than 1 million individual ink formulations in use across Europe.
These formulations are applied in all the different printing and/or coating processes; such as flexography, gravure, offset, screen, letterpress, non-impact printing and roller coating, and, depending on the process, they can be solvent-borne, water-borne, oleo-resinous or energy-curing (UV or electron beam) mixtures.
Since one single formulation can never meet all the possible technological and end use requirements the manufacturers have formulated solutions to almost every known requirement of an ink.
Printing inks, coatings and varnishes are mixtures manufactured from combinations of colorants (pigments, dyes), binders, solvents and additives.
A broad raw material base is vital for this wide variety of formulations, and this is especially true for the additives, which, although they are used in comparatively small quantities, are essential for the ink to meet its required converting characteristics. It is in this area that the specific know-how and intellectual property of individual ink manufacturerslies.
The raw materials may be single chemical substances, but are most likely to be mixtures of a number of different substances which results in inks typically containing 20 - 60 unique chemical compounds.
When correctly used for their intended purpose, printing inks do not place workers or consumers at risk.
Toxic raw materials are not used at all, nor are raw materials known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction (CMR). This principle is laid down in the EuPIA Exclusion List for Printing Inks and Related Products. It encompasses all types of printing inks for all types of printing processes.
Whenever unacceptable human or environmental risks are identified, action is taken by the ink industry, including the voluntary removal or substitution of the hazardous substances, often well before any comparable regulatory initiatives come into effect.
Printing inks for food packaging are formulated so that the converter is able to meet his legal obligations, and this is ensured by a variety of measures including:
Targeted selection of raw materials
Laid down in the EuPIA Guideline for Food Packaging Inks
Controlled manufacture according to GMP standards
Laid down in the EuPIA Good Manufacturing Practices for the Production of Food Packaging inks
Specific information given to the converter
Statements regarding the composition of the supplied food packaging ink or varnish and technical data sheets enable the converter to design the packaging so that it is fit for purpose.