W&H Miraflex wide web CI flexo connected to Ofru ASC-150

Bringing solvent recycling and recovery in-house pays off

Solvent recycling unit ASC-150 24 kW at JG Service. Photo Ofru
Solvent recycling unit ASC-150 24 kW at JG Service. Photo Ofru

“Recovering solvents in-house is a profitable investment,” says packaging printer JG Service AG in Pfaffenhofen in Germany. JG Service is well-known in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sector and since 1992 the company has a 51% share of printing and production of mono and composite films for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry. Other customers are in the food and confectionery industry. It prints on composites such as PETP/ALU/PE, OPP/PE-EVOH-PE, paper/PE/ALU/PE but also on mono-films and barrier layer materials such as Siox, EVOH and PVAL.

JG Service is strong in small and medium sized production runs and is characterized by its flexibility in order processing. The printed composite films are used for medicinal product packaging, medical and hygiene products, for example, and in the food industry for ready meals, soups, sauces, custard and spices, and in the non-food industry for pet food and cleaning products. In 2010 JG Service invested in a CI flexo Miraflex AM press from Windmöller & Hölscher, expanding its capacity from four to five flexo printing presses. To be used for small print runs with short delivery times, the new more frequent job changes required frequent changes in ink and cleaning of the press with clean solvent. JG Service still had its solvents recycled by a third party distiller then, but this solution was time-consuming and costly in terms of transportation, handling and collection of the solvent. The printing firm had no choice but to tackle the issue of ‘in-house solvent recycling.’

Seven colored inks are washed every day on the W&H Miraflex AM at JG Service, and then there are special inks for the cosmetics industry, for example. The plan was to recycle the solvent ‘on-line’ with the connection of a solvent recovery system, in particular the turbo cleaning system. This can be practically achieved and JG Service chose the German manufacturer Ofru Recycling one of the world’s leading manufacturers of recycling and recovery plant for contaminated solvents which constructs distillation systems for packaging printing firms among other things. Ofru has a lot of expertise regarding the integration of a printing press into the solvent recycling process. The requirement was to connect the solvent recovery unit to the turbo cleaning tank so that 600 litres of solvent could be automatically recycled per 10-hour working day.

JG Service chose the Ofru model ASC-150 which has been successfully used successfully for many years on a Miraflex press. The ASC-150 equipped with 24 kW thermal output and an integrated steam heater was installed in the ink supply room. Relatively small in construction with a 160 litre distillation vessel the small in size unit performs at an average distillation rate of 35 to 65 litres an hour at customers in the packaging printing sector with their typical solvents.

JG Service distils a mixture of ethanol 80% and N-propanol 20% with the unit. The ASC-150 heats up within an hour and the contaminated solvent is continuously drawn into the distillation unit directly from the customer’s 1000-litre tank during the day, and distilled at a rate of about 65 litres an hour. The solvents are separated from the printing ink during distillation. What remains is a thick ink sludge, which can be disposed of at low cost. The recycling process is fully automatic.

Pay-off in six months

According to JG Service’s internal calculations, the investment had already paid off after six months. Today the solvent recycling concept from Ofru Recycling is a permanent component of the W&H Miraflex printing press. For JG Service the integration of a profitable investment underlines the corporate philosophy of environmentally friendly and resource-efficient development and production.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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