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Three Dimensional's VOC-Free Offset Inks Benefit Printers, Environment

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 03.31.11

Environmental issues are one of the concerns facing offset printers today. The ability to print without volatile organic compounds (VOCs) would make life easier for printers in terms of press runnability as well as environmental paperwork. However, a completely VOC-free offset ink has proven to be elusive.

Three Dimensional, a Danvers, MA-based offset ink manufacturer, believes they have found the key to developing VOC-free heatset, sheetfed and news inks. Bob Arzilli, Three Dimensional’s vice president, said that early trial runs proved to be excellent, and noted that customers are now switching over to these inks.

“We have developed an ink that is totally VOC-free, and are just starting to market it now,” Mr. Arzilli said. “We can make any type of ink, whether it is web heatset, coldest or sheetfed. We have tested it out successfully in heatset trials, and it is working out fantastically. We also have a couple of smaller sheeted printers running our ink.”

Three Dimensional has long been committed to “green” manufacturing practices; the company makes its ink from vegetable-based oils, such as linseed, China wood, and soya oils, and recycles excess inventory into new colors.

Mr. Arzilli said that Three Dimensional has been working with its varnish supplier for a little more than a year on this new ink, and even was able to eliminate the use of cobalt from its sheetfed inks.

The main disadvantage is price, as these inks tend to cost more than conventional inks. However, Mr. Arzilli said that the higher cost of oil is driving conventional ink prices and energy costs associated with drying the ink up, narrowing the gap.

“The way the cost of oil is rising, we will be competitive soon enough,” Mr. Arzilli said. “A heatset printer can shut off their afterburner, which is also a major cost savings.”

While these inks cost more, they do more than cut energy costs. Mr. Arzilli said that these inks also perform better on press.

“The print quality is excellent, he said. “There is not much dryback so it gets better mileage. Heatset ink typically is 30 percent VOC, which means you get that much more ink from our system. Our ink also tends to dry much quicker.”

All in all, Three Dimensional said their new ink benefits the environment while saving printers money in the long run, which is an unbeatable combination.

“Not only will printers save in the long run, they will more than make up the extra money while helping the environment,” Mr. Arzilli said. “There are converters in California that can’t run 24/7 due to emissions regulations, and if they used our ink, then they could run 24/7. Besides, at some point with the dwindling oil reserves in the world, wouldn’t you want to see the oil for home heating rather than ink?

“We’re looking for forward-thinking people who are looking to bring the printing industry to a green, clean state,” Mr. Arzilli concluded. “We are running our new inks throughout the Northeast and Canada and they are running great. We think we really have something here.”

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