ContiTech Printing Blankets – Focus on the Environment
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Keeping things eco- and climate-friendly is one of the main challenges facing the printing industry. ContiTech's Elastomer Coatings business unit has known this for years. “Solutions are being sought in the areas of production, materials and processing to render printed products friendlier to the climate and the environment. As a leading manufacturer of printing blankets, we want to take on a pioneering role here,” says Dr. Thomas Perkovi?, head of the printing blanket segment at ContiTech Elastomer Coatings.
Two-pronged sustainability concept
ContiTech printing blankets minimize energy consumption during the printing process – and that's not solely due to their ideal transport properties. The sustainability concept goes much, much further: The company has developed an innovative manufacturing process that eliminates up to 70% of the climate-damaging CO2 emissions released in the production of world-standard printing blankets. “As fantastic as these values are, they’re still not good enough for us, because we want to offer completely carbon-neutral printing blankets,” explains Dr. Perkovi?. “This is why we have been acquiring climate certificates for some time now in order to neutralize the remaining CO2 emissions.” These guarantee that the CO2 emissions that cannot be avoided are actually offset through reforestation projects.
Calendering process ensures solvent-free production
The calendering process employed in the production of printing blankets is chiefly responsible for the small carbon footprint of the CONTI-AIR® and PHOENIX Xtra BLANKETS brands produced by ContiTech. Steel rollers form the rubber into a slab of the requisite thickness. This is a much more energy-efficient approach than the conventional coating process. Solvent additives are not required either, which significantly reduces VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions.
Already in 2010, ContiTech Elastomer Coatings became the first manufacturer anywhere in the world to have its printing blankets assessed and certified for their climatic impact, in this case by the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences. “The customers don’t pay anything extra for the climate-friendliness of our products. At the same price, our technologies not only protect the environment and climate, but also take the strain off the pocketbook,” stresses Dr. Perkovi?.
The figures vindicate this strategy: Contrary to market trends, sales of ContiTech printing blankets have risen sharply. A key reason for this is the carbon-neutral and cost-efficient manufacturing process. “Today, climate-neutral production is all-important – and this is the path we want to pursue,” says Dr. Perkovi?. The company is planning to continue investing in additional equipment for manufacturing solvent-free printing blankets with the aim of increasing capacity by 30% over the next two years.
Breaking into the flexographic printing business
The newly developed flexographic printing business is another example of where ContiTech Elastomer Coatings employs state-of-the-art, solvent-free production processes. “Here, ContiTech can leverage its comprehensive expertise in the field of offset printing, which we are also looking to expand. Thanks to a special process developed in house, we are now in a position to manufacture flexographic printing plates for printing flexible packaging as rolled goods on an industrial scale – and we are the only supplier to do this without the use of solvents,” explains Dr. Perkovi?. “This gives us a crucial edge in the market.” ContiTech is especially well positioned in waterless offset printing: The printing blanket business enjoys a high market share and is the market leader.
ContiTech's increasingly global market presence speaks volumes about its strength in the printing blanket business. Since drupa 2008, the company has significantly increased its Asian operations as well as the number of application consultants. “Another attractive market for us is South America, where we are looking to increase our presence,” says Dr. Perkovi?.
At ContiTech Elastomer Coatings, the cross-company philosophy Engineering Green Value is actively embodied – worldwide.