Flint Group EkoCure ANCORA Ink Is UV LED, Low Migration, OK’d by Regulators
UV LED has gained steam in the realm of flexography, and for good reason: Its host of& benefits reads like a punchlist to dealing with brand owner demands in 2017. Produce short run orders quicker? Check. Reduce lead time? Check. Slash energy consumption compared to mercury lamps? Check. Better overall print quality? Check.
But one product category where those benefits have not had the ability to be used is food and beverages. Stringent regulations governing the packaging of what we eat and drink have set a high bar for UV LED inks to clear. Flint Group’s UV LED Low Migration EkoCure ANCORA Ink technology successfully marries UV LED and low migration ink properties. It claims to be the only narrow web ink company to have globally commercialized such an ink, while also earning compliance with a number of regulatory bodies.
For this achievement, Flint Group was bestowed with FTA’s 2017 Technical Innovation Award in the Prepress – Pressroom category.
The Inception of Flint Group’s Technical Innovation Award Winner
Flint Group notes the combination of LED and low migration is an especially difficult challenge, as the limitation on raw materials that meet all migration requirements and still deliver an ink that performs on press and in print, is quite large. It took the company more than two and one half years of R&D to create and optimize its EkoCure ANCORA inks.
The inks combine UV LED curing, which uses LEDs to cure inks and increases productivity, reduces heat and noise output and requires minimal maintenance, with low migration capabilities, necessitating a delicate balance of the ink’s ingredients. “It was not and is not a simple extension of either LED ink technology or low migration ink technology,” the company says. “The combination is the challenge that we overcame.”
Passing the Test(s)
What set Flint Group’s inks apart from other Technical Innovation Award entries more than anything else, according to judges, was its lengthy list of support of global regulations and industry standards, which includes:
- Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004
- Plastic Regulation (EU) No. 10/2011
- Commissions Regulation on GMP (EC) No. 2023/2006
- Swiss Ordinance SR 817.023.21
- Nestlé Standards on Materials, Abstract ver. 3.0, Feb. 21, 2014
- Nestlé Guidance Note on Packaging Inks, Feb. 21, 2014
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
“Where the Puck Is Going”
Trends outside the package printing universe—customization, differentiation, constant changing and updating—have led to trends inside the package printing universe—just in time delivery, new pack types and shapes, an overall faster response. The short run world we now live in is one where Flint Group’s Technical Innovation Award winning inks can thrive.
The company sees its work on developing EkoCure ANCORA to be future facing; it believes more than 30 percent of all packaging can be more economically run as “short run.” Currently, these jobs are produced with high energy consumption inks that are not cost effective, and Flint Group says EkoCure ANCORA is positioned to capitalize by being more efficient and using less energy.
Innovation and standards compliance aside, for any consumable—ink or other—to have an actual impact on the industry, it needs to be in use. And for that to happen, it has to deliver on its promises and keep customers happy.
“Initially, we found our food packaging customers a bit skeptical when they heard the phrase ‘UV curing,’” one printer who is using EkoCure ANCORA admitted. “But it soon realized that UV LED is something totally different.”
According to that customer, by using Flint Group’s EkoCure ANCORA inks, it was able to address customer demands for increasingly short runs with just a 24 hour lead time. The printer pointed to the ink’s cost effective use and its low energy consumption, noting, “UV LED combined with low migration ink will mean a revolution for the packaging industry!”