New water-based flexographic inks will improve the sustainability of food packaging

Coordinated by the company QUIMOVIL, the AQUAFLEX project will allow the development of a new generation of more sustainable water-based inks for the food packaging sector. The new flexographic inks will allow a reduction of VOC emissions by 90-95 % to a competitive cost. The company QUIMOVIL and AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, have begun a project funded by the Ministry of Economics through the programme Retos Colaboración to allow the development of new printing water-based laminable flexographic inks for the flexible packaging industry that will allow a reduction of VOC emissions. Currently, a high percentage of flexible food packaging is manufactured by using solvent-based inks, due to the high quality and productivity needs in the printing and lamination processes. This kind of components have a number of drawbacks, such as the VOC emission into the atmosphere, security risks due to the flammability of inks and varnishes, as well as the high investment and maintenance costs to recover solvents during printing. Through the development of the AQUAFLEX project, coordinated by QUIMOVIL, it is expected to get a new formulation of laminable water-based flexographic inks with the same printing and laminating quality properties as solvent-based inks. The new product will allow a reduction of VOC emissions by 90-95 % at a competitive cost. For that purpose, some of the challenges of this project involve improving the print speeds of water-based inks and reducing their energy consumption in the drying process. AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, is located in Valencia, Spain and recorded at the Register of Technological Centres of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. The institute is member of FEDIT (Spanish Federation of Innovation and Technology Entities) and REDIT (Network of Technological Institutes of the Valencia Region). AIMPLAS is a non-profit research association with the objective of operating as a technological partner for enterprises from the plastics industry and thus offering them integral and customized solutions by coordinating research, development and innovation projects as well as technological services (analysis and testing, technical assistance, training as well as competitive and strategic intelligence).