In spring 2023, Koenig & Bauer was one of the parties involved in comprehensive tests of heatset MGA inks at B&K Offsetdruck in Ottersweier. The MGA ink series made by hubergroup was developed specifically for the printing of food packaging. The inks are mineral oil-free and promise especially low migration. There were several reasons behind B&K’s decision to test the new ink series.
Low-migration, mineral oil-free inks are an important prerequisite for heatset printers that are considering ventures into packaging printing – the largest and fastest-growing segment within the print market with an immense product diversity. Generally speaking, most commercial web presses are highly suited for applications in packaging printing thanks to their broad format variability and can be optimised for this area of use with just a few modifications, for example the incorporation of an additional sheeter or rewinder at the delivery.
MGA inks are not only interesting in terms of their future market potential. They also offer added value for existing customers. The second-generation family-run print company B&K Offsetdruck in Ottersweier, for example, produces a wide variety of children’s and colouring books. This production can, in future, be made more sustainable with mineral oil-free MGA inks. “We can create print products that are tailored to the individual wishes of our customers,” says managing director Jörn Kalbhenn.
The testing of MGA inks at B&K also provided a glimpse of what the future holds. A ministerial decree relating to the use of mineral oil-free processes in production for the French print market came into effect on 1 January 2023. The new regulations govern the MOAH/ MOSH content (C16 to C35) in printing inks and specify a reduction of these ink components in two steps between 2023 and 2025. Accordingly, the use of mineral oil-based heatset inks is already subject to certain conditions today, and will be prohibited at the latest by 2025 – on the French market at least. Industry experts suspect that the regulations will also be adopted by France’s European neighbours.
The print tests were conducted on a C217 commercial web press made by Koenig & Bauer and involved experts from ink manufacturer hubergroup and from Koenig & Bauer. The first round of testing assessed performance with a coated paper of the kind typically used for disposable food packaging, an application where the ink coverage is commonly high. Over the course of several runs, the press printed at a reduced web speed both with and without an additional MGA UV coating. The tests yielded flawless print products with no discernible set-off or drying problems. A further test run using coated natural paper (90 GSM art paper, glossy) confirmed the results.
“The conclusion after this test series is that, at a reduced web speed, the MGA inks perform just like conventional heatset inks and delivered convincing results,” says Georg Zitterbart, who observed the test production as print technology expert for Koenig & Bauer.