Filtering emissions beyond the ‘smell’ in printing

People working in the print industry often refer to the ‘smell’ they experience as a result of the various inks and agents used during the process.

It would be easy to imagine that removing these odors also takes away any health risks associated with potentially harmful airborne contaminants…but analysis of safety data sheets proves that in many instances this is not the case.

That said, the print industry is making strides towards sustainable alternatives to traditional inks through new generation eco-UV and eco-solvent products that are better for the environment and emit lower levels of odor. It is also the case, though, that even with these new inks, some potentially harmful airborne emissions may still need to be filtered from print processes – and some of these cannot be seen and are odorless.

Consequently, there remains a compelling need for printing companies to study specific safety data sheets to ascertain the workplace risk associated with fume emitted via the inks, lacquers, adhesives and solvents they are using because many will have the potential to impact negatively on health.

For many, this will mean investing in extraction technology that can contribute both to the environmental health strategies that protect their people and help maintain a cleaner print area to optimize product quality.

The question for health and safety managers is not so much do we need an extraction system to filter the vapors and mists generated by print operations, but which technology is best suited to our needs.

BOFA has been a key partner for print equipment manufacturers over many years, offering systems that can be integrated within a larger printing set-up or provided as a portable solution for smaller print shop requirements.

Whatever the scale, BOFA’s filtration expertise can be a key contributor to removing potentially harmful airborne contaminants from the work environment. A typical multi-stage filtration solution includes an advanced carbon layer to help filter fumes associated with a wide range of emissions, including methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and ozone from UV applications.

Without effective extraction, printing companies could be exposing their operatives to fumes that make them feel dizzy, drowsy and, over time, even increase the risk of occupational asthma and other conditions.

Even new eco-UV inks, often categorized as odorless, will need to be checked for emissions that need filtration. For example, the safety data sheets for some new inks indicate that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present, such as morpholine and benzyl acrylate.

Among BOFA’s most popular systems is the PrintPRO Universal, which is a compact unit with a large gas filter designed exclusively for the print and print finishing industries.

The unit is easily adapted to a wide range of environments, including wide format printers, continuous inkjet printers (CIJ), which predominantly use UV inks, and numerous mailroom applications such as UV coating, hot melt glue binding and mailroom polywrapping.

System control is enhanced by BOFA’s iQ operating platform, which provides a host of functions and innovations, including onboard data logs and real-time system condition visualization so operators can easily monitor filtration performance. This is a key aid in productivity, by enabling filters to be exchanged in step with production schedules, thereby avoiding unnecessary downtime that could otherwise result from saturated filters.

To find out more about BOFA’s print industry solutions, go to: