Shortage of natural gas
The actual shortage of natural gas in most parts of Europe has an economical as well as the operational impact on printing operations utilizing natural gas for hot-air drying systems and incinerators.
Not only prices for natural gas and other fossil fuels are going through the roof, making printing operations based on these energy sources extremely expensive, but also the availability of natural gas is expected to be limited by several national governments. If such measures lead to the forced shutdown of print production, even for a limited time, it can be devastating for the printers concerned. Efficiency optimized air-heaters and Regenerative Thermal Oxidizers (RTOs) will not prevent a possible shutdown as they still depend on gas for powering thermal boilers as well as for maintaining RTO operating temperatures. If boilers depend on heat recovery from RTOs, the problem gets even worse.
EB curing, the technology to embrace
To move away completely from the use of natural gas, some alternatives are available. The most obvious is Electron Beam (EB) curing, especially when it comes to food-safe packaging. Other available forms of energy curing include UV and LED-UV, although both have their limitations regarding robustness, food safety, heat impact, and production volume output. Due to their size and higher price, Electron Beam units are always operated as end-curing-station.
End-curing facilitates wet-trap printing of all colors. Paste inks, typically used for Offset, are favorable because of their higher tack in comparison to liquid inks. DG press designed the DG-AUXO web offset press series with the latest in modern servo drive technology to facilitate wet-trap printing on film substrates with the highest register accuracy.
DG-AUXO web offset press with 7 colors offset for ECG and a downstream flexo unit for wet-trap white or varnish application, at the end all together cured by an Electron Beam.
But there’s more. Web offset presses with energy curing are operated in a far less complex production environment compared to printing technologies utilizing hot-air drying. Web offset operations are accommodated in a rather basic building, avoiding major CAPEX for premises and building, periphery equipment, protection measures and certifications, as well as avoiding high costs of technicians to handle and maintain hot-air drying and RTO like equipment.
Green Field Plant, Investment in a Sustainable future
In Roto or Flexo facilities where efficient, modern infrastructure and organization are present and optimized oxidizing systems still have sufficient spare capacity available, decisions for realizing production expansion easily go in favor of the established and known printing technology. Even despite considering the costs of complying with strict regulations. These cases leave a missed opportunity for savings on costs for energy and several sustainability advantages.
It is important to be aware that with the investments in a completely new printing facility, also known as Green Field Plant, the metrics shift even more in favor of web offset with EB curing.
Starting from scratch with the development and realization of a new facility, infrastructure, and organization without the need to extend or integrate with existing infrastructure for solvent handling and incineration, offers a far less complex scenario and is an ideal opportunity to take a big step in terms of sustainability and cost-efficiency.
Opting for web offset with EB curing, including the required building and facilities will come at a reduced investment level. The DG-AUXO web offset press series with EB curing offers a range of advantages, especially due to its environmentally friendly characteristics and economic efficiency.
The following advantages apply when starting a web offset facility from scratch:
- No need for ATEX explosion-free zoning or its certifications.
- No need for solvent-based ink mixing and dispensing plant.
- No need for hot air nor all the related equipment like a thermal oil boiling plant and certifications.
- No need for incinerators like RTOs or solvent recovery systems.
- No need for (underground) solvent tanks and corresponding certifications.
- No need for solvent washing systems for cleaning tools and parts.
- No need for special fire-delaying walls and ceilings.
- No need for liquid-tight floors, which are required when working with liquids alike SB-inks and solvents.
- No need for a large warehouse for the storage of numerous engraved printing cylinders.
- No need for a complex fire extinguisher installation at a capacity required for solvent-based printing operations.
- No need to monitor labor safety related to the use of solvents, and last but not least a far less expensive fire insurance.
The Green Opportunity
So, what is required to operate a web offset machine with energy curing? Well, that is relatively simple. Besides the press itself, including ink curing equipment, it requires a closed-loop recirculating chill water supply unit that runs just on electricity. In addition, you will need an ozone-to-air duct to emit ozone from the corona system, which is allowed without restrictions. Finally, depending on the type of ink curing technology, a nitrogen supply system for the inertization of the ink polymerization area is needed.
Of course, you can make your investment in a web offset machine even more beneficial for both your business and the environment by compensating for its electrical power consumption. This can be done by installing sufficient solar panels on the roof or elsewhere on the premises. That matches the perception of a truly sustainable printing plant!
One other important advantage is offset’s fast and clean plate-making process. Providing state-of-the-art lead times and the highest print quality at a price per sqm, far below Flexo and Rotogravure.
From the previous summary of benefits, it is obvious that for a Green Field Plant, the DG-AUXO web offset press series with Electron Beam curing is the sustainable alternative that is worth your attention and serious consideration.