Sun Chemical Group SpA is very proud of its R&D Laboratory in Caleppio, which focuses on trends and new products in liquid inks for packaging. Also, the parent company talks Labelexpo Europe 2015.

Sun Chemical relaunches on global markets in its double role as an innovator and supplier of complete solutions, and presents its latest R&D achievements for printing packaging and labels, starting with liquid inks, on which the managers of the Caleppio Lab report updates.

Low migration and chlorine free
One of the Lab’s most important studies, conducted by Sun Chemical across Europe, has led to the development of a line of monosolvent inks for gravure printing of plastic films with a high functional barrier structure (PET and OPA). «Called Duratort PM – explains Giuseppe Ciriello, Technical Manager SB Liquid Inks – this series is characterized by a base formula of raw materials based on elastomeric polyurethane resins which enable obtaining inks free of chlorine and monomeric plasticizers with low final migration. They are therefore suitable for printing of packaging laminates for food products that must be subjected to the thermal processing of pasteurization and sterilization».
The growing demand for chlorine-free formulas in the packaging sector inspired Sun Chemical to invest in these solutions, and now the concern is able to offer an increasingly extensive range of products. «Our use of exclusively chlorine-free raw materials – explains Jacopo Rossi, R&D Laboratory Technician SB & WB Liquid Inks – has enabled us to develop thermos varnishes and primers for aluminium printing for food contact».

Sustainability and safety
The other major market trend orienting Sun Chemical’s R&D has to do with environmental sustainability and food safety, which in particular have fueled interest in water-based inks, considered more ecological and healthier than solvent inks. In this regard Aqualam series products in particular stand out. They are specifically designed for flexo printing on plastic supports destined for lamination. «They are formulated with a new generation of raw materials that are compliant with all regulations governing packaging – explains Fiammetta Mazzoleni, Technical Manager WB Liquid Inks – and they are suitable for printing on laminated plastic material without the use of solvents».
Indeed, Aqualam inks feature good adhesion to the films most commonly used flexible packaging and are compatible with most solventless adhesives. «Effectively – Mazzoleni continues – they enable obtaining final bond values in delamination aligned with those of materials printed and laminated using solvent-based products, and prints with the same color intensity, but without solvent retention».

Wet to wet for flexo
Its search for innovative solutions even led Sun Chemical to develop a method for printing packaging called WetFlex. «Wetfex – explains Fabio Cavazzi, R&D WB Special Project CTS Manager Liquid Inks – is a new flexographic printing system that uses water-based inks with a high solid content, printed wet to wet and dried at the end of the process using a polymerization reaction activated by a single EB (electron beam). This technology enables obtaining highly resistant glossy printing on a variety of flexible films, aluminium and paper».
The WetFlex ink is also safe and environmentally sustainable because, unlike traditional UV and solvent-based inks, it contains no photoinitiators or volatile organic substances, it has no odor and does not require high energy consumption. It has already been used successfully in the sector of diapers, and testing is currently underway in the food packaging sector, particularly for snacks and frozen foods.  
And in Brussels we’ll see…
At Labelexpo Europe (Brussels September 29th – October 2nd), Sun Chemical will present various new products for all phases of label production. Of particular interest is the compliant opaque white ink SolarFlex UV Flexo for food packaging, with excellent adhesive properties on a wide range of supports, as well as the Polare brand dispensers, designed to optimize administration of flat tone inks in small quantities, on narrow web supports.
Developed in partnership with Inkmaker, they are equipped with 20 printing heads for high and low viscosity inks. Also at the fair, special proposals for inkjet printing, new functionalities for UV LED drying, special effects and coats; a wide range of anti-tampering solutions, as well as for color management (SunColorBox) and the last phases of printing (such as SunLaseTM for laser marking.