There have been many recent announcements of new ink technologies that may revolutionize the printing industry. In some cases, these new inks find success in the market; some remain ideas on the drawing board.
For the past two years, Midwest Ink Company, Broadview, IL, has been working on offset inks that would run with tap water, thus eliminating the need for fountain solutions. While other companies discussed the possibilities of similar technologies, Midwest Ink quietly worked with a number of printers across the country to develop and improve their inks.
The result is Midwest Ink’s H20 Ink line, which recently received one of Graphic Arts Technical Foundation’s (GATF) coveted InterTech Award. According to the GATF, the judges found that the H20 Inks’ absence of chemicals eliminates negative impacts on printing hardware, the ink itself and the environment while providing better trapping. The judges concluded there will be fewer blanket wash-ups and replacement, reduced downtime and paper waste and increased ink stability and setting.
That Midwest Ink developed this technology should not come as a surprise. Frank Hannon and his son, Joe, the founders of Midwest Ink, both have extensive pressroom experience. Frank Hannon worked as a pressroom supervisor for a major printer in Chicago, and Joe Hannon worked in the pressroom at Fort Dearborn.
“My father and I started Midwest Ink 19 years ago,” Joe Hannon, Midwest Ink’s vice president, said. “We knew what printers needed, and hired a chemist and started to make inks.”
Midwest Ink has grown through the years, expanding into Milwaukee and later acquiring Offset Printing Ink in Seattle, WA in 1998. The company accelerated its growth with the development of H20 Inks, which it tested thoroughly before announcing its availability.
“We’ve had this on press for more than a year,” Joe Hannon said. “We had partnered with Rider Dickinson, a printing plant in Chicago, using a 6-color 40-inch Mitsubishi. We had the ink up and running in 14 days. We then went to Angel Lithography in Racine, WI to run our inks on a 6-color Komori, and we ran our first heatset web version of it at Specialty Printing in Niles, IL.”
Midwest Ink also reached out to printers throughout the U.S. to test their products. The testing was extensive, but the Hannons wanted to make sure the ink would work on every press.
“We wanted to be confident that our ink could run on any press, whether it was a Komori, a Mitsubishi or a Heidelberg,” Joe Hannon said.
Mr. Hannon said the printers who worked with Midwest Ink greatly helped the development of the H20 Inks line.
“Our customers really helped us by running the ink on press and keeping it quiet,” Joe Hannon said. “Our customers told us what they liked and didn’t like, and we made modifications.”
“People ask us, ‘What’s the downside,’ but there isn’t any,” he added. “Our tests show that roller wear and calcium-related problems are reduced because of the absence of chemicals, while print qualityis enhanced. It’s caught the attention of major print buyers, who are contacting their printers.”
Next up for Midwest Ink is its web line of H20 Inks. “We are now working on a web version that should lower oven temperatures,” Joe Hannon said.
With the initial success of its H20 Inks, Midwest Ink is in excellent positions to utilize its pressroom knowledge in order to better serve its customers.