Despite the fact that the process is extremely dynamic, flexographic printing facilities also face an array of challenges. Maintaining high levels of efficiency on all fronts is critical. However, you need to abide by certain regulations to avoid getting penalized and to reduce its negative effects on the environment.

In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of how flexographic printing works, the impact it has on the environment, and the best VOC abatement technologies for these facilities.

What Is Flexographic Printing?

As the name suggests, flexographic printing is a versatile process that is ideal for large-scale operations. In a nutshell, flexography uses a series of flexible relief plates to transfer an impression from one surface to another.

This process boasts of a simple design, which is essentially a modern take on the letterpress. But, in flexography can be used to print on an array of surfaces, including metallic films, different types of plastic, and paper. Flexo printing is a popular method used mainly for packaging, although it’s occasionally used to print books and newspapers as well.

The Impact of Flexographic Printing on the Environment

Industrial flexographic printing factories employ a number of different presses at each facility. Unfortunately, this also means that these facilities generate large volumes of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other pollutants.

Volatile organic compounds hurt both human health and the environment. In humans, VOCs can cause severe health complications and may even result in premature death.

As for the environment, VOCs and other pollutants contribute to the formation of smog. This, in turn, contributes to the decay of the ozone layer. At the same time, VOC emissions can reduce the volume of crops we produce worldwide and increase the chances of pests, among other consequences.

Choose the Best VOC Abatement System

Although flexo printing facilities tend to produce large volumes of air pollutants, you can employ a number of abatement techniques to control your VOC emissions. But, before selecting the best mechanism, you should:

  • Optimize your operations – By adjusting the initial process load, you can directly impact the operating cost and size of your abatement mechanism.
  • Verify your emission type – Identify the types of emissions your factory produces and the volume range.
  • Choose a reliable manufacturer – Once you’ve optimized your operations and identified your emission type, you’ll be able to choose the best manufacturer based on your design requirements.

When it comes to flexographic printing VOC abatement, the three methods we recommend are:

Catalytic Oxidation

As long as there are no substances that inhibit a catalyst, you can use catalytic oxidation to destroy your factory’s VOC emissions. Instead of relying solely on heat to cause a chemical reaction, this VOC abatement method employs industrial-grade catalysts to promote a chemical reaction.

Catalytic oxidizers have low operating costs, and depending on the materials you select, they can also be extremely affordable. At the same time, they are easy to operate and require little to no maintenance. However, you should always check for catalyst inhibitors and make sure you only use this abatement system for limited to moderate pollutant concentrations.

Regenerative Thermal Oxidation

For flexographic printing operations already generating a highly concentrated VOC stream or those in which a catalyst-inhibiting substance is present, the most common and effective option is the Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer, or RTO. This VOC abatement method utilizes high temperatures to convert organic compounds into heat, carbon dioxide, and water.

RTOs offer low operating costs for many applications, can handle high inlet temperatures, and operate very efficiently, storing and using heat generated during the destruction process. The design of an RTO allows for 85%-97%  thermal efficiency and potential destruction efficiency of 99%. Learn more about our work designing RTOs for organizations in flexographic printing here.

Rotary Concentrator Systems

A rotary concentrator combined with an oxidizer is a great alternative if there are low VOC concentrations in high exhaust volumes. This abatement technology consists of a rotating piece of wheel that absorbs VOCs and other dangerous emissions. The concentrated pollutants are then desorbed, transported and destroyed in typically a catalytic or regenerative thermal oxidizer.

Get the Best Oxidizer for Your Plant Today

Selecting the right VOC abatement system will help improve your plant’s efficiency and reduce operating costs. At The CMM Group, we specialize in designing custom VOC abatement systems for your facility.

Get in touch with us by filling out our online contact form or by giving us a call today!


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