GSE partners with Prethink Ink network for sustainable water-based inks

The company focuses on reducing the environmental impact of ink

GSE partners with Prethink Ink network
Anne Lourens, managing director GSE Dispensing is announcing the company’s collaboration with the Prethink Ink network to promote water-based inks for flexible packaging

Ink logistics specialist GSE is providing expertise to help reduce the environmental impact of flexible packaging by joining the Prethink Ink network, a group of printing industry suppliers promoting the adoption of water-based inks.

Currently, solvent-based inks are the standard choice for flexible packaging products such as pouches, sachets, and wrapping. However, eco-friendlier, safer water-based flexo, and gravure inks now offer comparable performance and competitive costs. Thanks to improvements in resin technology, ink formulations, and drying systems, excellent print quality, matching that of solvent inks. As well as reducing the carbon footprint of flexible packaging, water-based inks emit lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making them safer to work with and enabling easier regulatory compliance.

Established by BASF, the Prethink Ink network is dedicated to raising awareness about the capabilities of water-based technology and providing guidance on best practices. The network includes companies across the packaging value chain, including machine and tooling manufacturers, raw materials providers, ink makers, packaging converters, and brand owners.  

GSE optimizes the efficiency of water-based workflow

As a provider of solutions such as dispensing systems and software, GSE offers expertise to help flexible packaging printers transition to water-based inks smoothly while reducing operating costs. 

Anne Lourens, managing director, GSE, comments: “GSE’s company mission is to reduce the environmental impact of ink and ink-related resources in the graphics industry. This fits perfectly with Prethink Ink’s initiative to encourage the use of water-based inks, so we are delighted to join the network. 

“Managing water-based inks is less complex and less costly than is the case for solvent inks. Packaging printers working with solvent-based inks must incur extra expense complying with stricter safety regulations to minimize the risk of explosion and fire. Their dispensing systems must come with explosion-proof features, such as an overpressure system for controls and grounding devices for machine components, plus, for EU customers, 114-ATEX approval.  

“However, facilities built for water-based ink don’t need to install explosion-proofing or grounding against electrostatic discharge, driving down expenditure for those who make the switch.”

GSE’s solutions enable packaging and label converters to eliminate ink-related waste at all stages of the workflow. Modular ink dispensing systems automate the preparation of special brand spot colors with repeatable accuracy in the required volumes. This allows reduced ink costs, using base colors without the need for expensive ready-mixed inks, and simpler logistics. Dispensers can be extended with extra base-color barrels to manage two ink series simultaneously if desired.  

Software packages are available for streamlining ink-related processes such as re-using inks returned from the press, automating replenishment of base inks, traceability of ink batches in the supply chain, generating stock and costing reports, creating new color recipes, and correcting existing recipes. 

Lean approach on adopting new ink series

Lourens advises flexible packaging printers seeking to adopt water-based inks to approach the switch as an organizational change process and ‘think lean.’

“First of all, ask yourself, ‘What is the current state of your ink management, and what should be the future state?’ To reduce costs and increase profitability, it is key to reduce waste in your future workflows. Selecting the right hardware and ink management software is therefore paramount.” 

Prethink Ink network partners also include Actega, Comexi Group, Druckfarben, Follmann, Grupo Consist, NNZ, Quimovil, Saueressig, Silbo and Uteco Group.


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The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

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