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printech, April, 2002
Re: Waterless Lithography


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From: Gary Jones (gjonesprinting@aol.com )
Date: Tue, 9 Apr 2002 13:17:04


You have posed an excellent question with respect to the other side of the story for waterless lithography. As you may suspect, there are some limitations to the use of waterless lithography which has limited its widespread use in the industry. Some of the major limitations are as follows:

1. It is expensive to use, which means the printer must charge a higher sales rate. The reasons for the greater expense are
a. The process requires special plates, inks, and plate development chemistry and they are available from only one or perhaps two suppliers.
b. Presses need to be equipped or retrofitted with a temperature controlled inking unit. The lack of fountain solution, which provides cooling for the press, requires that temperature controls for each inking unit so that the ink maintains its physical property and each ink requires its own ideal temperature.
c. The process is limited to printing only on high quality paper. The lack of fountain solution, which provides a cleansing action for the blanket, requires that only high quality papers be used in the process.

2. The plates are very susceptible to scratching and damage because the silicone coating is soft.

3. The process is not as environmentally friendly as conventional litho due to the fact that the inks have a higher VOC content, the plate development chemistry is solvent based and must be disposed as hazardous, energy consumption, and more solvent use for blanket cleaning.

Gary Jones



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