Arrow Film moves to water-based process

Richard Stuart-Turner
Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Flexible packaging printer Arrow Film Converters has initiated its move over to an innovative water-based inks process following the successful completion of trials.

Arrow Film Converters serves clients in the food packaging industry. Image: Google Maps
Arrow Film Converters serves clients in the food packaging industry. Image: Google Maps

The Castleford, Wakefield, West Yorkshire-based business, which largely serves clients in the food packaging industry, told Printweek that from 6 September it will be using water-based inks on over 35% of all orders.

“We have taken the decision to use the latest technology and utilise these inks instead of solvent-based, therefore we have equipped our number two press to enable this after extensive trials over the past three years,” said Arrow managing director John Graham.

He added the process would enable better ink adhesion, strong bonding strengths on lamination, and higher densities on the inks, including white.

“The advantages are of course huge both to the environment, sustainability, and for our staff not breathing noxious fumes in addition to many other safety reasons, and the bonus is far better print results,” said Graham.

“There are few downsides to using this method, the only one being running speeds, which are around 25% less at the moment because the water needs to be extracted from the print, as opposed to being flashed off with solvent.”

Graham said the business has carried out extensive trials with its largest customers and it hopes to transition 100% to water-based inks by the end of this year.

“We have already ordered all the ancillary equipment for both the other two printing presses to arrive during November this year,” he added.

“Major supermarkets have taken a keen interest in this cleaner, more sustainable method of printing which we are offering at the same price as solvent-based inks.

“And we have produced a water logo which we are offering all customers to print on their packs to illustrate their sustainability and being an environmentally aware business.”

Graham described film printing as “the last bastion for water-based inks” after their adoption into paper and card, and compared switching from solvent to water-based inks to changing from a diesel car to a cleaner electric car.

Separately, Arrow Film Converters has been featured in Insider Media’s list of the 100 fastest-growing companies in Yorkshire. In the Growth 100 table, which ranks businesses based on growth over a four-year period, it finished 37th with a four-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24%.

“We feel confident the water-based inks will continue to catapult the business even more in the coming years, with continued discussions with major supermarkets to adopt this style of printing along with using PE and now PP as recycling material,” said Graham.

Arrow Film Converters employs around 60 staff at its 1,858sqm site and has a turnover just above £11m.

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