As I continue to explore the question of eco-friendly textiles, I have been thinking about digital printing. As more and more artists become interested in protecting the environment, we have begun to have more requests for “green” custom band backdrops. We already have some eco-friendly options available for the fabric substrate, but what about the inks used in digital printing? UV Curable, Water-based, EcoSolvent, Mild/Light Solvent, Full Solvent – which is best, ecologically speaking?
I would assume (based on the name) that a great choice for digital printing would be to use eco solvent inks. The reality, however, is that these inks aren’t nearly as ecologically friendly as the name implies. In researching eco solvent inks, I learned that they contain HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) and VOCs (Volatile Organic Components). Maybe eco solvent inks are better in comparison to other types of solvent inks, but that doesn’t mean they are good for us.
I’m interested in a new type of ink being touted by EFI – Bio-Solvents. According to a white paper by EFI, bio-solvent Inks “contain no harmful VOCs and have the best health and environmental profiles available”. EFI does make a bio-solvent ink (BioVu), so they aren’t exactly an unbiased source. However, their literature does display the Environmental Protection Agency’s DfE logo, so I am feeling more confident (though I will continue to research this new category of inks before making a decision).
If this is all true, then bio-solvents may be the wave of the future. Right now, EFI’s BioVu inks are only available for use with one printer type – EFI’s VUTEk 3360 product line – but they say that they have plans to roll it out to other product lines in the future. I’ll keep my eyes out for it and let you know.