“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.