Advantages of Water-based Inks & Coatings

The performance advantages of water-based inks and coating systems have been documented with extensive plant testing and long-term plant experience. Advantages have been proven in three important areas:

  • Performance
  • Economics
  • Versatility

Performance Advantages

The concern for environmental issues worldwide was the driving force to create interest in using water systems to replace solvents. Government regulations were issued requiring the control of hazardous substances and the emissions of volatile organic compounds found in solvent inks. It was imperative that new water-based inks provide the necessary performance to qualify as an alternative technology. Experience has proven that Polytex systems not only met specifications but in fact exceed standards. Most important for each print process they provide print fidelity, color uniformity, and consistency during the production run at optimum line speeds.

Performance advantages for water-based systems have been established in the following areas:

  • Chemical Resistance- Aqueous inks are formulated to provide alkali and alcohol resistance and are not affected by soap and commonly used cleaning
  • Scrub and Wash Properties- Aqueous inks withstand harsh cleaning tests using standardized scrub
  • Adhesion- Aqueous inks adhere to a complete range of substrates including papers, plastic films, coated papers, non-wovens, foil, vinyl,
  • Block Resistance- Aqueous inks are used on vinyl constructions and resist plasticizer migration. They can be processed at high temperatures without sticking to machine components or sticking within the bundle of finished
  • Light Fastness-Aqueous inks will not discolor when exposed to prolonged periods of UV radiation.
  • Heat Resistance- Aqueous inks will not discolor during high temperature
  • Color Consistency- Evaporation problems usually encountered with solvent inks are eliminated with aqueous Loss of solvents during production is a major reason for poor color consistency with solvent inks.
  • Opacity- Aqueous inks can be formulated at higher solids to provide opacity and color
  • Film Strength- Aqueous inks contain high molecular weight high solids emulsion polymer systems that contribute to improved film

Economic Advantages

Economics are an important factor for companies considering the conversion to water-based inks. It has been demonstrated that these inks not only contribute to improved processing and performance characteristics but also provide savings when compared to solvent systems. Favorable economics are achieved due to the following factors:

  • Insurance costs
  • Cost of environmental compliance
  • Ink stability
  • Ink consumption
  • End product uniformity

Using water eliminates the cost associated with fire insurance, fire protection equipment, special plant construction requirements, the purchase or maintenance of emission control devices, and the energy costs to run control devices.

Costs to control ink viscosity due to solvent evaporation, loss of production time due to color change, and lack of color uniformity are eliminated. This has enabled manufacturers to produce extended print runs and virtually eliminate color drift. The costs associated with using expensive solvents to wash cylinders, storage containers and ink fountains are often hidden costs. The printer can utilize finer line gravure engravings flexo anilox cylinders with aqueous inks that result in lower ink deposits and substantial ink savings. More production yardage is possible using less ink.

The economic advantages discussed are not theoretical but are factually based on actual plant evaluations.


As mentioned earlier aqueous inks can be applied to all of the important substrates. papers and coated papers

  • plastic films such as polyolefins
  • rigid and flexible PVC surfaces metallic foils
  • non-wovens

Formulations are available to create a variety of special design effects such as: process colors

  • metallic finishes

expanded foam finishes mica pearl finishes

  • opaque and transparent colors
  • suede finishes
  • soft touch
  • protective topcoats

In addition to wallcoverings, Polytex ink systems are used to produce many other finished products such as:

  • PVC shower curtains
  • PVC table covers and shelving
  • window fashions such as vertical and shades
  • disposable wipes and napkins
  • flooring
  • upholstery

Our presentation only serves as an introduction to the world of water-based ink technology. Our staff at Polytex Environmental Inks welcomes the opportunity of working with you to explore and capitalize on the advantages provided with this technology.

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