Rotogravure is an industrial printing process primarily used for high-speed production of large print runs at constant and top quality, also known as “photographic quality image.” Many magazines are printed using the gravure process, as advertisers want their products promoted in the best way possible. A large number of mail order catalogs are printed in gravure because the products must look attractive and also demonstrate what is on offer. Therefore, catalogs must all look the same. The constant print quality of the gravure process meets this requirement.
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Rotogravure is capable of transferring more ink to the paper than most other printing processes. It is noted for its remarkable density range (light to shadow) and
hence is a process of choice for fine art and photography reproduction. The image may or may not typically be as clean as that of offset lithography.
Polymer blends for hot melt inks (HMI) for rotogravure printing were prepared on the basis of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyethylene (PE) chemistry. Commercially available thermoplastic polymers are characterized based on their rheology by manufacturers using the melt flow index (MFI). It is a single-point viscosity measurement at a relatively low shear rate and temperature.
Gravure is gaining momentum due to the various improvements in technology such as ultrasonic gravure cylinder plating, which is significantly faster than traditional copper plating. Publication presses are now as wide as four meters. Development of gravure presses for packaging is directed toward short runs, which may help the process stay competitive. High printing speeds reduce dot gain and dot distortion. This improves print quality. Electrostatic assist reduces the number of skipped dots and improves the uniformity of ink distribution within the dot.
Global demand for rotogravure publication presses and rotogravure inks for mass-scale and continuous rotogravure printing is increasing. Gravure printing is likely to grow further, due to the continual refinement in the process, inks, and gravure presses. Rotogravure inks are chemical based; therefore, water-based inks are increasingly being used considering the health hazards and risks of rotogravure inks. The usage of water-based inks for packaging was abandoned due to the slow drying rates. These inks were replaced by toluene. Water-based inks are making a comeback due to the rise in concerns about health hazards in using solvents such as toluene.
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Flint Group is the leading manufacturer of rotogravure printing ink in the world. Other players are DIC Corporation (formerly Dainippon Inks and Chemicals), T&K Toka Co. Ltd., Wikoff Color Corporation, Toyo Ink LLC, Xinxiang Wende Xiangchuan, Sun Chemicals, and Sánchez SA de CV.
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