In the past, printing was limited to petroleum based inks. Petroleum based inks are harmful to the environment from their initial manufacturing, to their use while printing and the disposal of excess ink. The main measure for environmental impact is measured in VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) released into the atmosphere during all stages of the inks lifespan. Generally, petroleum based inks have been measured at 25 – 35 percent VOC’s. This number has begun to drop over the years but is still far from its alternative – vegetable based inks.
Vegetable based inks are created from the oils you would find in vegetables such as soybeans, linseed, tung, castor, canola, and safflower. Soy is the favourable choice as it exhibits excellent wetting properties which enhance its ability to carry solid pigments. Though, it is common for ink manufacturers to use a cocktail of vegetable oils to create their inks for optimal quality.
When looking at VOC’s, you can see the environmental benefits of printing with vegetable based inks. Vegetable based inks used in ibox Packaging have been measured to have 0% VOC’s. It is easy to see why using vegetable based inks has become our first choice for printing.
With anything there are drawbacks. Vegetable based inks at this point are more expensive, but are expected to drop in price as the demand rises. Vegetable based inks are also slower to dry than its counterpart petroleum inks. Another issue is that vegetable inks are harder to use on denser materials. For packaging, this is not usually an issue as cardboard is highly absorbent.
With very limited drawbacks and very favourable benefits to the environment, vegetable based inks are ibox’s number one choice when manufacturing boxes at our plant.