Ink properly stored in clean, labeled and sealed 55-gallon drums.
Storing open inks in small containers is a good idea for small press runs, but these containers are badly organized and have damaged labels. This will make it difficult to reuse inks or identify expired materials.
Empty containers completely before discarding. Waste ink drum should be labeled.
Press return ink should be stored in sealed 55-gallon drums and properly labeled to optimize the potential for reuse.
Purchase from an ink manufacturer that will provide the ink on consignment to the printing facility. In this way the facility must only pay for the ink that is actually consumed.
- Some of the smaller ink containers are discarded in the trash. Because the degree of cleanliness is a function of operator effort, the amount of ink discarded can vary.
- Many flexo printers purchase inks in 55-gallon drums that are reconditioned and not put into the trash. By purchasing in reusable bulk containers, the container can be returned to the ink supplier for refilling instead of being thrown away. In addition, the use of bulk containers also cuts down on the amount of cleaning required because the surface area of the container per unit volume of ink stored is reduced.
- Install an on-site computerized ink mixing system. These systems are most appropriate for flexographic printers using large volumes of ink. Most are equipped with a computerized color scanner and a software system that helps control ink waste and inventory. Most larger ink companies sell and support these systems.
- The typical computerized ink mixing system consists of tanks (approx. 110 gal.), which contain ink bases, and tanks containing concentrated ink pigments. Once the computer is told by the operator what ink to make the system automatically meters the appropriate amount of pigment and base into a pre-designated volume container. These systems can help reduce waste volumes and significantly reduce material and waste disposal costs. Additionally, many ink companies provide the printer with the ink pigments and bases on the ink on consignment. In this way the facility must only pay for the materials that are actually consumed.
Any ink that is left over at the end of a press run can be collected in containers and weighed. The color and weight of that ink is entered into the ink-mixing computer. As new inks are mixed, the computer can advise the operator on incorporating the leftover ink into new batches. Because the computer knows the color and has the volume stored in it’s database the ink can be calculated into a new batch and consumed much more quickly compared to traditional ink inventory management efforts.
Smaller flexographic printers, where a ink mixing system is not compatible, may consider an ink batch mixing/blending system. These systems are similar in properties to the large scale automated ink mixing system discussed above, but inks are mixed and toned (color adjustment) by hand. A computer is used to store the ink formulas. Small batches of specific colors can be mixed by hand at the facility. This can save precious time and costs. For example a small amount of ink is needed to finish a run. It may be quicker and less costly to mix a small amount on site versus asking the ink company to provide an emergency batch of ink and deliver it to the facility.