Inks – Known Problems and best solutions

Adhesion of laminates and varnishes to an ink can be seriously affected by the presence on the ink surface of waxes or other slip additives. These materials may come from the inks themselves or be applied to the ink surface during re-moistening of heat set web offset printed work.

All inks contain waxes or slip additives, however some have more than others and these are generally referred to as high wax inks. They are designed to offer improved scuff and handling resistance and do not need over laminating or coating. The slip additives migrate to the ink surface during the drying phase of the ink. The amount that actually reaches the ink surface is largely dictated by the type and quantity added to the ink, the length of the drying time and the amount of ink applied to the paper.

Because ink drying is likely to be slower and the quantity of ink greater in four colour build areas of the sheet, this will promote migration and it is very common to find problems caused by slip additives or waxes only in these areas of the sheet. Infra Red drying of print can also promote migration. UV varnishes may be difficult to "trap" or apply to an ink surface with a high wax content so much so that the varnish is unable to "wet" the ink resulting in reticulation of the varnish. Both problems produce, at best, a poor gloss in the affected area and, at worst, an extremely obvious defect.


All work to be laminated or varnished should be printed using low wax inks or sealed with coatings that also contain low levels of slip additives. The simplest way to ensure this is to specify to your ink supplier that inks be suitable for lamination and varnishing and to take the recommendations for their use seriously.

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