Flint launches LED inks for food packaging

By Max Goldbart, Friday 04 November 2016

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Manufacturer Flint Group has launched a new range of EkoCure Ancora UV LED-curable low-migration inks for food packaging.

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An operator utilising the new inks on an LED machine

Having been in development for around a year, and having been beta-tested at companies in the US and Italy over the past three months, the inks were launched to the global market on Tuesday (25 October).

Flint European marketing manager Niklas Olsson could not reveal their price but said that the inks had a “lower total applied cost” than similar inks on the market for LED. They are compatible with all LED flexo presses and join other inks in the EkoCure range.

Olsson said: “We started looking at LED UV in 2012 and it has been quite heavily adopted in the US, with 40 or 50 LED press installations, and slightly less so in Europe. There are some very significant benefits for printers with lower energy consumption, faster makereadies and on/off lamps.

“The trick with LED is that it has a very narrow bandwidth on the lamp type so the ink needs to fit that, and that is what we have been working on in the last year, to make them compliant for food products. 

“The uniqueness with this ink range is that it has the delicate balance of meeting food compliant needs and also has migration properties at extremely high printing speeds.”

The inks are compliant to Nestlé Guidance Note, Swiss Ordinance and FDA regulations.

They are available in CMYK plus orange, green and violet for expanded gamut printing and opaque white. They are also available in a range of coatings, adhesives and metallics. Flint said they combine UV LED curing with low-migration food-compliant chemistries.

Olsson also revealed that Flint is currently in the process of developing a special white ink for shrink sleeves, which should be released in the next few weeks.

“An ink range never gets completed because we never have what we would call a full portfolio, there is always someone who wants to print in orange or something like that,” he added. 

“We are fairly optimistic on sales but you do have to bear in mind that if we look at the UK there is only one printer starting to try [flexo] LED, so it is in very early stages. But with lower total applied cost, the UK should be embracing this.” 

He also said he envisages the inks will sell best in the US followed by Italy, where they have been beta-tested and where more printers have embraced LED. 

It has been a busy year for Flint product launches, with Vantage LED, an LED UV retrofit service for sheetfed offset printers, launched in August, and several other products, including four LED and low-energy curing inks, launched at Drupa.

Its European publication gravure ink business was recently acquired by US-headquartered Sun Chemical.

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