Main menu


Flexo Ink Evolution: Eco-Friendly, Fast-Drying, and Innovative!

In this article, we'll delve into the world of printing inks and their diverse types.

We'll explore various aspects of flexographic inks, including water-based inks, UV-curable inks, and solvent-based inks.

We'll also discuss the features, uses, and environmental considerations associated with each ink type.

Are you ready to dive into the realm of printing inks and understand how to use them effectively across various applications? Let's get started! 

Water-based flexographic inks

1. What is a flexographic ink?

Flexographic ink, often referred to as flexo ink, is a type of ink used in the flexographic printing process.

Flexography is a versatile and widely used printing method that is commonly employed for packaging materials, labels, newspapers, and other products with high-speed, large-volume printing requirements.

Flexographic ink differs from other types of ink, such as offset or gravure inks, in its composition and characteristics.

Here are some key features of flexographic ink:

1.1 Water-Based or Solvent-Based

  • Flexographic inks can be water-based or solvent-based, depending on the specific printing application.
  • Water-based inks are environmentally friendly and often used for food packaging, while solvent-based inks offer faster drying times and are suitable for non-porous substrates like plastic films.

1.2 Viscous and Low Viscosity

  • Flexo inks are formulated to have the right viscosity (thickness) for the flexographic printing process.
  • They are typically less viscous than offset inks, allowing them to flow more easily through the press and adhere to a variety of surfaces.

1.3 Quick Drying

  • Flexo inks are designed to dry quickly, which is essential for high-speed printing processes.
  • Rapid drying ensures that the printed material can be handled and processed without smudging or smearing.

1.4 Good Adhesion

  • Flexographic inks are formulated to adhere well to a wide range of substrates, including paper, cardboard, plastic, and various flexible packaging materials.
  • Proper adhesion is crucial to ensure that the ink stays on the surface and resists rubbing or scratching.

1.5 Pigments and Dyes

  • Flexo inks can use either pigments or dyes as colorants.
  • Pigments are solid particles suspended in the ink, providing vibrant and opaque colors, while dyes are soluble in the ink and can produce translucent or transparent colors.

1.6 Low Odor

  • Many modern flexographic inks are formulated to have low odor, making them suitable for applications where strong odors are undesirable, such as food packaging.

1.7 Environmentally Friendly Options

  • With growing concerns about environmental sustainability, there is a trend toward developing eco-friendly flexo inks that minimize volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harmful emissions.

Flexographic ink is applied to a printing plate, which is then pressed onto the printing substrate, transferring the ink and creating the desired image or text.

This process allows for high-speed, high-volume printing and is commonly used in industries where cost-effective, efficient printing is essential.

2. Water-based flexographic inks : Green and Versatile

Water-based flexographic inks are a type of ink formulation used in the flexographic printing process , and they are known for their environmental friendliness and versatility.

These inks use water as a primary solvent, and they are commonly used in applications where low odor, safety, and sustainability are important considerations.

Here are some key characteristics and benefits of water-based flexographic inks:

2.1 The Green Revolution: A Greener Choice

  • Water-based flexographic inks are leading the charge towards eco-friendliness.

  • Their reduced environmental impact, thanks to fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs), makes them a choice aligned with our planet's well-being.

2.2 A Breath of Fresh Air: The Low-Odor Advantage

  • Bid farewell to strong, unpleasant odors in your printing environment.
  • Water-based inks are renowned for their low odor profile, making them a breath of fresh air in applications where strong smells are unwelcome, such as food packaging and indoor signage.

2.3 Safety First: Protecting the Planet and People

  • Safety is at the heart of water-based inks.
  • They boast lower toxicity and reduced flammability compared to their solvent-based counterparts, making them a safer choice for both the environment and the individuals who work with them.

2.4 The Need for Speed: Quick Drying Times

  • While they may not match the lightning-fast drying of solvent-based inks,
  • water-based inks still offer rapid drying times—a vital factor for high-speed flexographic printing processes.

2.5 Universal Allies: Versatility at Its Best

  • Water-based flexographic inks are versatile artists.
  • They effortlessly adorn a wide range of substrates, from paper and cardboard to corrugated board and various plastic films.
  • They're equally comfortable on porous and non-porous surfaces.

2.6 Colors Galore: A Spectrum of Possibilities

Who said eco-friendly can't be vibrant? Water-based inks are available in a plethora of colors, and they can be customized to match precise color requirements. Whether it's process printing (CMYK) or spot color printing, they've got you covered.

2.7 Sticking Strong: The Adhesion Advantage

No smudging, no flaking—water-based inks are formulated for impeccable adhesion. They ensure your designs stay put, even in the face of challenges.

2.8 Flexible Friends: Ideal for Flexible Packaging

  • In the realm of flexible packaging, labels, and folding cartons, flexibility and conformability are non-negotiable.
  • Water-based inks rise to the occasion, offering the perfect balance of reliability and adaptability.

2.9 Regulations Redefined: Meeting Industry Standards

  • Water-based flexographic inks are crafted with regulatory compliance in mind.
  • They adhere to strict standards, including those related to food packaging safety, such as FDA regulations in the United States.

2.10 Clean and Green: Low Volatility

Low volatility is the name of the game. Water-based inks release minimal harmful fumes during printing, creating a safer work environment and contributing to reduced air pollution.

3. Solvent-based flexographic inks : Efficiency and Considerations

Solvent-based flexographic inks are a type of ink formulation used in the flexographic printing process.

Unlike water-based inks, which use water as the primary solvent, solvent-based inks use volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as the solvent.

These inks are known for their fast drying times and excellent adhesion properties, but they also come with some environmental and health considerations.

Here are some key characteristics and information about solvent-based flexographic inks:

3.1 Speed Meets Precision: The Quick-Drying Marvel

  • Solvent-based flexographic inks are like the sprinters of the printing ink world.

  • Their lightning-fast drying times make them a top choice for high-speed flexographic printing processes.

  • This exceptional speed not only boosts productivity but also ensures that ink smudging or offsetting is kept at bay.

3.2 Sticking Strong: The Power of Adhesion

  • In the world of packaging and labels, adhesion is paramount.
  • Solvent-based inks shine in this aspect, forming a robust bond with a wide range of substrates, from plastics to non-porous surfaces.
  • This characteristic makes them a preferred choice when ink adhesion is crucial.

3.3 Colors That Pop: The Vibrant Palette

  • Ever wondered how those snack bags or product labels look so eye-catching? The secret often lies in solvent-based inks.
  • These inks have the power to create vibrant, opaque colors that jump off the page and captivate consumers.

3.4 Versatility Unleashed: For All Surfaces

  • From paper and cardboard to plastic films and metal foils, solvent-based inks are the chameleons of the ink world.
  • They adapt effortlessly to both porous and non-porous surfaces, making them a go-to option for a wide range of applications.

3.5 Durability and Resilience: The Reliability Factor

  • Solvent-based inks are not only visually stunning but also tough cookies.
  • They resist water, chemicals, and abrasion with ease, making them ideal for products that may face harsh environmental conditions.

3.6 A Long Shelf Life: Time-Tested Reliability

  • When it comes to staying power, solvent-based inks excel.
  • They boast longer shelf lives compared to some ink types, ensuring that your ink investments stay fresh for extended periods without quality degradation.

3.7 Beyond the Basics: Specialty Inks for Creative Flair

  • Solvent-based flexographic inks aren't limited to the standard CMYK palette.
  • They can be formulated as specialty inks, including metallic and fluorescent options, as well as specialty coatings, allowing for the creation of unique visual effects and designs.

3.8 Environmental Impact: A Cloud Overhead

  • VOCs in solvent-based inks contribute to air pollution and have adverse environmental effects.
  • Strict regulations in many regions necessitate careful handling, disposal, and emissions control.

3.9 Health and Safety First: Protecting the Workforce

  • The presence of VOCs poses health and safety risks to printing facility workers.
  • Adequate ventilation and safety measures are crucial to protect employees from potential harm.

3.10 Compliance with regulations: Safely navigating the legal terrain

  • Users of solvent-based inks must adhere to environmental and occupational health regulations.
  • This includes meeting emissions limits and following hazardous materials handling and disposal guidelines.

3.11 The Aroma of Ink: Dealing with Odors

Solvent-based inks can emit strong odors during the printing process, which may be a concern in certain applications and work environments.

4. UV-curable inks

UV-curable inks, also known as UV inks or ultraviolet-curable inks, have transformed the world of printing.

These innovative inks have paved the way for high-speed, high-quality, and environmentally friendly printing processes.

we'll explore the fascinating world of UV-curable inks, highlighting their unique features, benefits, and considerations.

1. Rapid Curing

  • One of the standout features of UV inks is their lightning-fast curing process. 
  • When exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, they cure almost instantly. 
  • This eliminates the waiting time for ink to dry, allowing for high-speed printing without the risk of smudging or smearing.

2. High Gloss and Sharp Detail

  • UV-curable inks are champions of print quality.
  • They produce sharp details and a glossy finish that makes them perfect for applications where aesthetics matter most.

3. Excellent Adhesion

  • These inks form a strong bond with various substrates, including paper, cardboard, plastics, metal, and coated surfaces.
  • This ensures that the ink adheres firmly to the substrate, enhancing the durability of prints.

4. Durability

  • UV-cured prints are built to last.
  • They resist abrasion, moisture, chemicals, and the fading effects of UV exposure.
  • This makes them ideal for outdoor, industrial, and long-lasting applications.

5. Wide Color Gamut

  • With UV inks, the color possibilities are endless.
  • They come in a wide spectrum of colors and can create vibrant, high-opacity shades that capture attention.

6. Low VOCs

  • For the environmentally conscious, UV-curable inks offer relief.
  • They contain fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) compared to solvent-based inks, making them safer for both users and the environment.

7. Energy Efficiency

  • While UV curing requires energy for UV light generation, it's an energy-efficient process because of the ink's almost instant curing.
  • This can lead to reduced energy consumption compared to heat-based drying methods.

8. Versatility

  • UV-curable inks are versatile and find applications in labels, packaging, signage, textiles, and specialty printing.
  • Their adaptability is a testament to their broad appeal.

9. Special Effects

UV inks can do more than just print. They can be formulated to create special effects like raised textures, tactile finishes, and even security features visible only under UV light.

10. Reduced Waste

  • Say goodbye to wasted prints due to smudging or misregistration.
  • UV inks' instant curing reduces the likelihood of errors, contributing to more efficient printing processes.

11. Limitations and Considerations

1. UV Exposure: The curing process depends on exposure to UV light, which may require specialized equipment, an investment that printers must consider.

2. Cost: UV inks and the associated curing equipment can be pricier than other ink types, affecting the initial investment for printers.

3. Health and Safety: While UV inks contain fewer VOCs, the UV curing process can produce ozone, requiring proper ventilation and safety measures.

4. Substrate Sensitivity: Not all substrates are compatible with UV-curable inks, especially those that are not UV-transparent. Testing is often necessary to ensure compatibility.


as we wrap up our exploration of the world of printing inks, we recognize the pivotal role inks play in modern printing operations and their impact on quality, the environment, and health.

From eco-friendly water-based inks to fast-drying UV-curable inks, each type comes with its own features and challenges.

Both the industry and consumers alike must make informed decisions based on a better understanding of these technologies.

Being a critical component of product design, packaging, and printing processes, inks continue to blend technology and creativity.

Regardless of the chosen option, we should always strive to strike a balance between performance and environmental impact.

This can contribute to achieving a better and more sustainable world of printing.