Faculty Publications


Requisites to consider when choosing low volatility pressroom solvents for lithographic printing operations

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Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Cleaner Production





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Low volatile organic compound solvents for use with low volatility soy based lithographic printing inks are evaluated for several criteria related to performance and environmental health and safety (EHS) impact. Solvents encompassed the chemical categories of hydrocarbon alcohol mixtures, fatty acid derivatives, hydrocarbon distillates including fatty acids and alkyl benzene sulfonate mixtures, hydrocarbon distillate mixtures (long-chain), and hydrocarbon distillates including alkoxylated alcohols and propylene glycol ethers. Five different captive printing operations served as on-press evaluation sites and one University teaching laboratory, all running small-frame sheet fed lithographic presses. A two-color negative was used with a standard image, allowing for testing with both red and black soy ink. Solvents were randomly assigned to each of the six presses. On-press evaluations included the Likert ranking of ease of cleaning and wipeability. Wipeability was evaluated for the black ink only. A total of 120 data measures were evaluated via a Likert scale ranking process, with solvents serving as their own controls. Frequency distributions were calculated on the performance scales. While individual solvents varied somewhat in performance ranking, an analysis of all solvents indicated that 88% of solvents performed at a 3 (scale of 1-5) or better ranking for cleaning effort and 87% of the samples performed at a 3 or better level in terms of wipeability. Subsequent analysis for significance using the Friedman Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance on Ranks underscored the overall good performance of the solvents as significant differences were not found for cleaning effort (p = 0.6) and wipeability (p = 0.2). Performance findings with the on-press evaluations underscored the importance of the subjective health and safety evaluations. These were based on current state of knowledge, were conducted on each of the ten different solvent formulations, and resulted in the categorization of these solvents according to risk to employee health. This ranking was performed according to what is known concerning the major chemical constituents of the solvent mixtures and their health effects. Results from these evaluations are presented in concert with the performance data to provide a final EHS ranking for the solvents. This work will aide technical assistance providers and small scale press operators in reducing dissipative losses to the environment through intelligent product substitution choices.

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