Alcohol Free Fountain Solution Q&A

Discussion in '4-Color Offset Presses +' started by JeffLim Ah Chua, Nov 18, 2021.

  1. JeffLim Ah Chua

    JeffLim Ah Chua Member

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    Hi All ,
    What is the side effect of alcohol free fountain solution if over dose by 5% dilution ?
    conductivity reading above 2,000µs.
    thank you
     
  2. turbotom1052

    turbotom1052 Senior Member

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    Jeff what component of the solution are you overdosing on? Is it the fountain concentrate, or is the the alcohol substitute? Or is it a 1 step solution? More fountain concentrate than needed besides being a bit harder on the wallet could result in slower drying. Same applies to alcohol sub. Over the long term it could have an effect on the life of your rollers.
    As far as conductivity in the 2,000 range... that would depend on on the starting point of your water source. If your starting with tap water that's coming out of your faucets at 15oo its not nearly as bad as if you were starting with reverse osmosis treated water with no dissolved solids.
     
  3. JeffLim Ah Chua

    JeffLim Ah Chua Member

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    Thank you for your advice ,
    What is 1 step solution mean ?
     
  4. turbotom1052

    turbotom1052 Senior Member

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    One step fountain solution is just as it implies. Everything is in there, just add water. Ive tried them, and not liked them, because you don't have the flexibility in adjusting that a 2 part solution has. Best bet in my opinion is a 2 step solution with reverse osmosis water to mix. The reverse osmosis water allows you to start with zero dissolved solids. Starting at zero will always give you a consistent mix. The conductivity of most tap water is a moving target!!!
     
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  5. JeffLim Ah Chua

    JeffLim Ah Chua Member

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    Noted with one step solution. It similar with our alcohol free fountain solution.
     
  6. turbotom1052

    turbotom1052 Senior Member

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    When I say one step solution I'm referring to a solution that has the alcohol substitute already in the mix. Just add your tap water, or as suggested R.O. water. A 2 step solution would be where the alcohol substitute is separate from the fountain concentrate. If you are printing alcohol free, then you are using a substitute in the mix. Its either in the fountain concentrate or its an additional additive. This may be a pretty unpopular subject but it needs to be said. Unless there has been major progress made in the last few years since I've retired with fountain solution chemistry, then in my opinion it is still "BEST" to run isopropyl alcohol at around 5% . Of course if your going to be doing that, you will want a fountain concentrate that's formulated to run with isopropyl alcohol. The thing that all the treehugers just refuse to understand is that there is "no such thing as a free lunch!!!" Many of the alcohol substitutes on the market are glycol based. They should look up the dangers to the environment that glycol ethers cause. Its the same deal with this major push towards electric cars. The electricity used to charge your battery needs to come from somewhere. We all know how opposed to nuclear all the environmentalists are. I won't even begin to debate the safety aspects of nuclear energy. But if your electric companies are not powering their generators with nuclear energy, then the other options for mass energy production is either diesel generators, coal fired steam generators, or the "green" alternatives like hydro and solar. Hydro and solar are at this point are not capable of supplying even close to enough to meet current needs.
    My previous position as stated here on numerous occasions regarding alcohol free printing has been rethought. After quite a few years of printing alcohol free with great success I had opportunity to work in a small place where the alcohol was not regulated. it was nice to be able to use it in concentrations of 5% without the additional requirements of printing without it.
     
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  7. JeffLim Ah Chua

    JeffLim Ah Chua Member

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    Thank you for your sharing ,
    Yes , alcohol free fountain solution is not a good choice for all offset press operators, most of them still rejecting the conversing. In South East Asia IPA is treated as problem solving solution :)(Holy water) half of the printing technical issues was base on water (dampening).
    Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) has been widely used in lithography printing industry. It has some advantages in reducing surface tension of fountain solution and provides better wetting. It also acts as a “coolant” to remove the heat from rollers and the ink rapidly.
    Local authorities are enforcing those solvent users to eliminate or limiting the usage of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in any sectors. Therefore, the usage of IPA or any volatile solvents in printing industry have been constrained.
    For press owner is a huge cost saving by freeze the IPA solution in production.
    Alcohol free fountain solution with an alcohol substitute being widely use / enforce to use in local print house.
    Thanks to bring up (glycol ethers) harmfulness point.
    Ideal dilution of alcohol free fountain solution 3 % - 5 % by manufactory guideline.
    The solution is successfully perform well in all Japanese brand press machine, unfortunately not so well in older Heidelberg press machine.
     
  8. turbotom1052

    turbotom1052 Senior Member

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    Ive been successfuly printing alcohol free on a variety of different presses, to include older German manufactured presses. It wasn't until I had a chance to return to alcohol in small quantities that I came to fully realize its worth in a sheetfed pressroom. The things that were taken for granted back in the days when isopropyl was widely used, came very clearly into focus once I became employed by someone who had not "drank the environmentalist kool aid." Don't know what the regulations are now, as Ive been retired for the last 6 plus years, but I can say that while I was still actively working in the industry here in the States, the control was limited to the larger companies that used it in great quantities. It would appear to me that one of the biggest reason many companies have abandoned the legal use of alcohol has more to do with virtue signaling, than any smart business practice.
    If you really take a deep dive into the science, instead of allowing yourself to just believe what the loudest voices are saying, you will find that in many instances its limited use is not only legal, but much preferred.
     
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  9. georgbob

    georgbob Member

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    In large format (KBA 162-164), we cannot abandon the use of IPA, but we use it in a significantly smaller proportion (3-5%) than before (8-12%).
     
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  10. turbotom1052

    turbotom1052 Senior Member

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    3 to 5% is all it really takes as long as the press is in decent state of repair, equipped with the correct durometer rollers, and solution is either well filtered, or replenished when conductivity rises to problematic levels. Ive also found that on presses with a skew feature in their water system its best to run close to parallel, and on presses without the skew feature (Heidelberg) it helps to run with less of a crown or even no crown at all ground into the pan roller. I would imagine that in the larger format presses you describe, that running metering roller close to parallel becomes even more important, especially when running smaller sheet sizes.
     
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  11. JeffLim Ah Chua

    JeffLim Ah Chua Member

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    Noted with thanks George.
     
  12. DeluxeBD

    DeluxeBD Member

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    I work for a larger company and got into the printing industry at a time when alcohol was already being discouraged, so I've never had the joy of running with alcohol. At 25 years, I'm still a newbie. We use a 2 step solution, which like Tom says gives us more control over the amount of Alcohol sub we use. Those conductivity numbers depend on your concentrate... The concentrate we use increases 575µs for every ounce per gallon we add. (2-4 ounces), so obviously if you used 4 ounces, you'd find a starting point above 2000 already. If we tried to use more than recommended, it would lead to the breaking down of the ink and emulsification issues on the rollers as well as longer drying times. The alcohol sub doesn't affect conductivity, but too much can have the same affect. Using a Brix refractometer, we measure the glycol level of our mixed solution as our control when it comes to the sub. We start fresh with a conductivity around 1800µs and a 2% glycol level. We use this same dosed mix across our facility on web and sheetfed presses. Not knowing any better, or being able to compare it to running with alcohol, I can't say that we have a lot of issues that point back to our fountain solution. However, we are very proactive as far as settings, roller maintenance, and not running with old rubber. To Tom's point, none of our presses have crowned pan rollers, and everything is set parallel.
     
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  13. turbotom1052

    turbotom1052 Senior Member

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    If printing without alcohol is all you know then you won't miss it. Don't know just how "large" your company is, or just how much total VOCs your spitting out but if your company takes everything the government dictates as gospel, and knee jerk reacts with fear, or a desire to virtue signal the companies wonderful intentions, on every "suggestion" the loudest voices are screaming, then you will probably not ever know as long as you work for that company. The biggest point that I've been trying to make is that printing with alcohol in reasonable doses makes the process a lot easier in so many different ways, and that my bet is that there are many companies that only THINK that they must adhere to these "suggestions" I believe that its total VOCs from the entire plant thats limited. If a printing company is able to reduce their VOC output in other areas of the processs, then that would leave room for a bit of increase when it comes to the use of small amounts of alcohol. Im in no way suggesting that we return to the days of 25% isopropyl fountain mixes, where you could almost get drunk when walking into a pressroom, but keep it at a reasonable 3 to 5%. Now I know that this thinking may not be popular to roughly half the population of these United States, but offered up to hopefully allow people to get a little glimpse of just how some entities operate!!!
     
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  14. DeluxeBD

    DeluxeBD Member

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    For sure... I've heard many stories of the way it used to be around here, and the wonders of alcohol. It sounded like it would cure a lot of ills. I agree with you 100% that a lot of the EPA push is way over the top and they rob Peter to pay Paul, so to speak. Your example of the electric cars is a good one... I feel the same way about wind turbines, with the oil they need to operate and the burying of the blades in the earth after their useful life is over. Getting consumables past our corporate ESS&H team is a nightmare. We just had the Anti-Skim aerosol spray banned from use in our facility... just another example of something we've used for decades that killed no one. ;) It can be frustrating. As you said, I didn't get the pleasure of using alcohol, so I can't really miss it. It's always important to keep up with roller settings, etc., but I assume because there's less room for error, that it's even more so with today's fountain solutions and subs. Again, I don't really know, but my guess is that we probably do more chiller flushes and cleans now then they did in the "old" days too.
     
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  15. turbotom1052

    turbotom1052 Senior Member

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    It isn't so much that alcohol "cures" ills, as much as it opens up the operating window a whole bunch. In doing this a lot of a pressmans focus is freed to better manage other tasks. For example.... that narrow window between washing out an image, and drying up an image is made much larger. The evaporative properties of alcohol make the need for roller chillers not as important. Dampener roller speeds can usually be run down to much lower levels. The need for uber precise dampener roller settings are not as mandatory. Older and harder rollers are easier to work with. The list goes on..... On a positive note that anti skin aerosol thats been removed from your pressroom can be replaced with Pam cooking spray with decent results, that is until some government agency decides that the propellant is leading to the untimely infertility of cockroaches or the increased toxicity of cattle flatulence.
    What I would really like to know is when our not so trusted elected officials are going to practice all the same mandates that they have insisted that we all do???
     
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  16. DeluxeBD

    DeluxeBD Member

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    Hahaha! Some of this stuff is beyond crazy! And yes, it amazes me how completely unfazed they can be by their hypocrisy.
    That's good to know... We do have Pam cooking spray in the building! I will have to give that a try. Thanks!
     
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