In recent years, flexographic printing has been spotlighted, particularly with the modernisation of packaging. The method of processing a conventional flexographic printing plate requires the use of a photosensitive resin plate that is exposed to radiations. Removal of unexposed surfaces to create the relief of the cliche requires the use of developer baths, conventionally solvent solutions (halogen-containing or more recently halogen-free). The solvent-developable printing plate tends therefore to be limited in use in the future in view of its adverse influence on environment and harmfulness to human body. Taking in account the hazardous conditions of solvent use, its unsafety to environment, and anticipating the regulations that will come into force regarding solvent use in all Europe, the proposers want to explore the emerging water-developing technologies. The water-developable photosensitive resin technology has improved a lot, but cannot handle 70% of the flexographic applications because of the lack of appropriated developing equipments. Moreover, the diversit) resins and types of aqueous solutions is a major braking force to the improvement of processing technologies, well as to cliche makers flexibility. The proposers - cliches producers and equipments and resin providers - have asked to a company specialised in developments of flexographic processing equipment, as well as to a research organisation in the field of filtration and separation techniques to study a new processing technology that would be suitable for the main waterborne resin types. The project aims at using a combination of innovative techniques for the washout (brushes, nozzles and ultrasounds). Separation membrane-based techniques will be developed for recycling of the water that will be used in closed loop. The plate making proposers will integrate and test the new processing technology in order to improve it. The equipment and resin providers will disseminate the results of the project in Europe. Moreover, the platemakers, which are leading companies in Europe in their field, expects to create an intelligence group that will survey, analyse and evaluate the evolutions of water-based technologies and regulations and finally promote non polluting techniques in the flexography area. Finally, the proposers want this technology also to improve the economic performance of the whole cliches manufacturing sector in Europe, which represents 1500 to 2000 companies. This economic benefit at the European scale, is evaluated to 5 MECU per year.
Funding SchemeCRS - Cooperative research contracts
221 00 Lund
RM15 4YG Essex
6961 EC Eerbeek