Clinic topics this month: Kevin Purdy on environmentally sound ink; Paul Sherfield on ISO and Fogra standards; and Karen Charlesworth on short-run bookbinding
We have a client who wants to print metallic inks, but is concerned about the effect on the final job’s recyclability. Are metallic inks recyclable?
The short answer is that metallic inks do affect a printed job’s recyclability. The tiny chips of metal in a metallic ink aren’t recyclable, and if they find their way into the waste stream in any volume, it would likely pose a problem for the viability of that waste stream. However, because all printed waste is recycled in a single, mixed-waste stream, it’s extremely unlikely that the volume of metallic inks in that mixed-waste stream would amount to anything significant. The percentage they represented would be utterly negligible and well within the tolerances of the average flotation process. Perhaps, if you were printing millions with a full solid cover, it might be an issue; as it stands, it’s not.
But what is also interesting is why your client is focusing on recyclability as the issue. If the general aim is to be more environmentally responsible, there are other questions about ink that have far greater environmental implications than recyclability. For instance, Sun Chemical has chosen to focus on the question of raw material sustainability in developing its own MetalEco brand of metallic inks. In the MetalEco range, given that in current recycling practice the metallic content is unlikely to significantly affect recyclability, the pigmentation technology is identical. Instead, the MetalEco formulation focuses on the question of reducing reliance on mineral oils as a base, by using a vegetable-oil base. This addresses questions about storage of hazardous chemicals and makes it more pleasant to use in the pressroom, as well as more easily disposable. But, crucially, it also reduces demand for, and reliance on, unsustainable raw materials such as petrochemicals. Oil prices are rising and supply may one day dry up and it makes good business sense, not to mention environmental sense, to be ready for that. It also means that inks become automatically less vulnerable to the increasing rise of petrochemicals prices in the world market – so the price you pay for a tin or a barrel of ink remains more stable.
What is ISO 39L? Does it replace ISO 12647? Do we need to take yet another standard seriously?
This can be confusing but don’t worry, you’re not looking at yet another colour standard. 39L is not an ISO standard, but the latest Fogra dataset. Effectively, this dataset describes how a press prints when it’s set up to ISO 12647 Part 2-2004/Amendment 1: 2007.
Using the Fogra 39L dataset, the European Colour Initiative (ECI) has created CMYK ICC profiles for each printing condition/method and paper type included in the standard. There are two ECI Fogra 39L-based profiles: ISO Coated v2 ECI, a CMYK profile with 330% total area coverage (TAC), aimed mainly at sheetfed offset printers; and ISO Coated v2 300 ECI with a TAC of 300%, aimed at web-offset using higher-quality Type 1 and 2 papers. This last profile is also useful for sheetfed perfectors.
The ISO standard 12647 Part 2 assumes five paper types: gloss-coated woodfree, for sheetfed and web offset; silk/matt-coated woodfree, for sheetfed and web offset; lightweight coated, for web offset; uncoated white offset; and uncoated yellowish offset. Other profiles are available from the ECI based on other Fogra datasets. These may be replaced over the next 18 months.
Fogra 39L has replaced a disparate set of datasets, including the Fogra 27L dataset. The reason for the change from Fogra 27 to Fogra 39 is just progress. The new profiles are more accurate than the ones they replace. Also, the printing conditions on press needed to match the new V2 profiles, CMYK, CIElab values, etc, have only changed a small amount.
We’re based in a university town and would like to offer a thread-sewn, cloth-bound, cased-in bookbinding service for runs as short as one or two copies. Is there anything that meets our needs?
Well, yes and no. There is something out there, but it’s more a gadget, or rather an assemblage of several different mechanical casemaking tools in a single table-top workstation. It’s the Fastbind Casematic, made by Finnish company Maping (pronounced ‘mapping’) and sold in this country by Ashgate Automation in Chalgrove, Oxford. There’s an A4 and an A3 version, and neither needs any set-up or makeready because all registration and sizing is done either by eye, or with the help of one of the included templates – which means that book production can easily be varied on a book-by-book basis for on-demand binding.
Operating it takes a bit of skill and judgement. The book block is registered on the Casematic’s bed using one of the Casematic templates, rather than sidelays (if the block was registered to the edge of the sheet, there’s a good chance the spine would be slightly out of alignment, given the inaccuracy of digital presses’ image placement). The operator glues up the cover, positions greyboards for front, back and spine, cuts the cover corners, folds them back and applies endpaper – all of which are done in a semi-assisted way on the Casematic’s bed. What you will need, of course, is a perfect binder to bind and nip the book block into the cover once you’ve made it (Maping and Ashgate also sell a range of table-top binders).
It sounds labour intensive, but in the hands of an experienced operator it is definitely faster than working by hand. Ashgate quotes what it calls an “achievable, realistic production speed” of 100 cases an hour (assuming your greyboards have been cut to size). The cost is around £2,500 for an A4, and £2,800 for an A3 model.
There’s a vast gap between the Fastbind and anything else on the market in terms of automation, footprint, productivity and cost. The nearest alternative is Bielomatik’s Bookmaster, a completely automated hard-case binding line incorporating all the processes of case-bound production including casemaking, adhesive binding and case binding. There’s no makeready, and it turns out books at around 360 an hour.