“Gravure – the sustainable print process” was the theme of ERA’s Annual & Packaging and Decorative Gravure Conference in Thessaloniki, Greece on 21-23 September. The conference not only discussed the current challenges such as sustainability and alternative plating technologies, but above all pointed out an encouraging perspective for gravure’s future.

That the EU Commission approved the authorisation to further use chromium trioxide until 2024 is clearly a success by the industry and the ERA. For the time being, chromium trioxide is indispensible in the cylinder plating to guarantee the hardness of the printing cylinder. And to secure the future of the galvanic chromium plating beyond 2024, on behalf of the industry Kaspar Walter made an application at the European Chemical Agency whose response on the application was positive.

Thessaloniki also showed promising alternative technologies to the traditional cylinder plating: Rossini’s Ecogravsystem is based on a polymer monolayer which can be electromechanically engraved, Contitech’s  Dynasurf concept foresees an elastomer based monolayer which is engravable with laser as well as electromechanical engraving, and Kaspar Walter’s alternatives such as HelioChrome Neo which replaces chromium trioxide by chromium (III), and HelioPearl which is an engravable monolayer.

An answer on the brand article manufacturers’s demand for sustainable packaging material were given by Bobst and Uteco who showed their innovation for an increased sustainable gravure printing. Both presented solutions to use water based inks in packaging gravure which result in a significant reduction of CO2 emissions and a further improvement of the sustainability of the gravure process.

And gravure can guarantee full recyclability during the process: copper and chrome to plate the cylinder are recovered like the solvent used for the printing of the packaging material, and the cylinder can be used endlessly. No other print process can claim that!