Some printing companies view waterless printing as a niche marketing opportunity while others view it as an environmental necessity.
In this article I’ll explain the features and benefits of waterless printing and how individual printing companies sell the benefits that best suit their argument.
But first of all, what is waterless printing?
Initial experiments commenced some 25 years. Waterless printing has significant environmental advantages over traditional offset printing as it does not use water or alcohol in the printing process as does traditional offset printing.
Learn more about Offset Printing
Sometimes referred to as dry offset printing, does not damage the environment as much as conventional offset printing.
Generally speaking, printing consumes large amounts of resources including chemicals, water & energy. Some large presses consume hundreds of thousands of litres of water per annum during their normal printing operation.
Waterless printing takes advantage of the available technology to reduce the impact on the environment.
It uses computer to plate systems so film processing is no longer required along with the chemicals & water used in the process and it uses vegetable based inks to help conserve resources and reduce pollution and VOC emissions (volatile organic compound)
A waterless press uses around 40% less paper waste so this too saves resources as well as helping to reduce cost.
The average, medium size printing company that exclusively runs waterless presses, saves around 100,000 litres of water and 10,000 litres of alcohol per year however the sales of waterless presses slowed down in recent years.
A significant saving of resources.
How Does it Work?
On a conventional offset printing plate the non-image area is coated with an ink repelling surface that simply rejects the oil based ink and therefore does not print.
The non-image area on a waterless plate is coated with a 2 micron thick layer of silicone rubber which has a very low surface energy.
This material will resist ink provided the ink’s viscosity is such that is has a greater affinity for itself than it does for the silicone rubber coating.
Features of Waterless Printing
The presses are more expensive.
The press operators require special training.
A higher degree of colour consistency can be achieved.
Increased ink coverage & saturation means brighter & more solid ink colours.
The process can successfully print on a larger range of stocks.
It saves a substantial amount of water.
It uses less paper.
It uses less chemicals.
There's less maintenance (there’s no water rollers)
Higher productivity & quicker job cycle times.
The printing companies that “niche market” waterless printing choose the benefits that relate to quality & presentation and they charge a premium for them.
They may also seek customers who have a strong enough interest in the environment and charge them a premium for the pleasure of using waterless printing.
The environmental Benefits
Those printing companies that truly believe waterless printing will make a difference to the environment, struggle to justify the extra production costs involved.
Indeed many customers would genuinely prefer waterless printing but are unable to fit the extra costs into their budgets or simply don't want to.
However, as in the marketing approach, those customers with the stronger interest in the environment will gladly pay the extra costs.
To my mind, it’s irrelevant what’s driving the sales of waterless printing because every time someone places an order, the earth & everything on it benefits.
You can read more insider tips & secrets by downloading my Printing Secrets Exposed guide, it's FREE.