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Inkjet has sustainability at its core

The increased industry-wide drive for even greater sustainability and recyclability across all sectors has uncovered new advantages from the use of digital inkjet technology.

As more and more brands today are looking at their environmental impact, the opportunities driven by industrial inkjet are coming even further to the fore. Nowhere is this more so than in packaging. Here the sustainability mantra of ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ is well known and one that speaks well to inkjet printing and its capabilities to drive change.

The single use plastics tax, introduced in the UK in April of this year, is one of many new legislative measures that are being imposed across wider European markets, and has focussed the minds of many manufacturers in the search for effective scalable alternatives.

Subsequent recent exponential rises in materials have also seen them explore every opportunity, especially in the world of packaging, to reduce their exposure to this tax.

One key development in this process is the desire to remove the need for labelling by way of ‘direct to shape’ printing, an area in which digital inkjet excels.

Printheads and inkjet machines are helping direct-to-shape printing and provide brands with the ability to dispense with the need for labels on products. By directly printing onto the can, container or bottle, inkjet is delivering vivid, high impact results across a variety of shaped surfaces, and all at production line speeds.

At Xaar we have seen this in several innovative applications. The reliability and performance of the Xaar 1003 printhead with its unique TF Technology proved instrumental in the ground-breaking, direct-to-bottle printing operation for Beck’s beer, with over 200,000 special edition bottles produced for the UK market.

Similarly the Xaar 1003 is also enabling Juno’s modular and scalable way of digitally printing to achieve production rates of 400 cans per minute, providing a genuinely commercial alternative to conventional lithographic print processes, whilst retaining all the short-run and customisation advantages for which digital printing is already known.

In both these applications, not only are there gains to be made from the reduced use of filmic or paper materials and adhesives, but the removal of labels from packaging also enhances its contribution to a cleaner waste recycling stream. Additionally, the use of digital inkjet printing ensures reduced ink wastage together with all the production and agility benefits for which it has always been known.

Clearly, direct-to-shape printing can help companies with their sustainability and in addressing new legislation, and engaging with this technology to maximise the use of resources effectively is only going to grow.

As we look into the future, the possibilities with inkjet are already increasing. New printhead technologies such as Ultra High Viscosity Technology and aqueous ink capability are printing more materials with improved properties, replacing inefficient processes and reducing waste and energy consumption even further.

With significant improvements in the provision of both sustainability benefits and productivity, it’s safe to say that adoption of industrial inkjet usage is becoming a driving force in many new sectors.

So, perhaps it’s time to take another look at inkjet – with both production and sustainability benefits so closely entwined, it could just be the ‘win/win’ your business is looking for.

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