Walls, windows, and other building spaces offer perfect spots for mounting displays for adverts, signs, and other types of displays. However, printing on buildings can have a significant effect on the environment, from an increased carbon footprint to large use of non-renewable printing substrates (materials), waste products, the release of toxins, and so on.
As a result, if you or your brand are eco-conscious, it is a good idea to seek out companies that use eco-friendly printing methods, such as our main supplier sas-graphics.com. Below is a look at some of the top eco-friendly printing techniques that you can consider when looking to print on buildings.
Environmentally Friendly Printing Substrates
Printing, especially wide format printing done on walls requires the use of large amounts of substrate (printing materials). Unfortunately, some of these materials are not friendly to the environment. For example, paper is one of the most popular printing substrates, but sometimes, the paper might be sourced from non-sustainable tree plantations, thus causing damage to the environment.
Some printing substrates such as PVC and polystyrene might not be biodegradable. As a result, they end up polluting the environment when their usefulness ends. Other types of substrates might be biodegradable and sourced from sustainable sources but processed in such a way that they leave a huge carbon footprint.
Luckily, not all substrates are harmful to the environment. There are several types of eco-friendly printing substrates that you can use for large format printing when looking to place displays on buildings. A good example of these substrates includes wallpapers and wall murals that are made using sustainably-sourced paper. Other examples include a wooden substrate made from sustainably sourced trees, biodegradable vinyl, recyclable foam boards, cotton, and other eco-friendly fabrics.
You can also use other substrates such as metal, aluminum, acrylic glass, polypropylene, and others as long as they are sustainable, reusable or biodegradable, and leave little or no carbon footprint.
Environmentally Friendly Inks
Just like with substrates, large format printing on buildings will require the use of large amounts of fluids – inks, dye pigments, and other chemicals found in the ink. If the fluids used are not eco-friendly, they damage they can do to the environment can be significant. For example, solvent inks, which are popular in large format building, contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which produce gases that are harmful to the environment. Another example is latex inks, which contain latex, a plastic-like substance that is not biodegradable and which uses a lot of heat to cure (hence a larger carbon footprint).
Like with substrates, there are a number of eco-friendly printing solutions you can use where inks are concerned. These include the use of water-based inks that are made using environmentally friendly dye pigments. Vegetable-based inks are another great eco-friendly solution for printing on buildings as they are made from organic, 100% eco-friendly materials. On top of that, they produce bright, high-quality images, which is a huge bonus where large format printing is concerned.
Environmentally Friendly Printing Technologies
The printing process can be as much as harmful to the environment due to the chemicals used and released, and the time and energy used during the printing process (i.e., carbon footprint produced). As a result, some of the printing technologies that are commonly used in large format printing can still be harmful to the environment, even if eco-friendly substrates and inks are used.
For example, offset and lithographic printing are popular printing technologies used for large format printing. However, they are considered to be quite harmful to the environment due to the heavy usage of water, resulting in water wastage. On top of that, the damage can be much worse when harmful materials are used; chemicals in substrates and inks can find their way to the water, further polluting the environment. Asides from water, offset and lithographic printing uses a considerable amount of energy, which leads to a large carbon footprint. Fortunately, there are eco-friendlier alternatives to offset and lithographic printing.
- Direct to Media (DTM) Printing
One of the top alternatives to offset and lithographic printing is direct to media printing. The technology involves the use of a digital printer, which prints directly onto the substrate – as opposed to offset printing where text and images are engraved on a plate, which is then used to spread the ink onto the substrate.
The main advantages of direct to media printing (where the environment is concerned) is that the process is fast, and thus results in a lower carbon footprint. It also doesn’t require the use of water – hence no water wastage. On top of that, when combined with eco-friendly substrates and inks, direct to media printing can significantly reduce the harmful impact of printing on the environment.
- Laser printing
Laser die-cutting, also known as laser marking, is another eco-friendly printing alternative that you can use when printing on buildings to reduce ecological footprint. The technology makes use of a laser printer, which features a laser beam that moves back and forth across the substrate, creating the desired pattern for the final print. Instead of inks, toner powder is used, which is fused onto the printing substrate by the heat from the laser beam.
The main ecological benefits of laser printing are that it is fast, it uses considerably less energy, it does not use water, and does not involve the use of traditional inks. On top of that, when using laser marking to print on building (for example, logos, business name, etc.) you can completely forego the printing substrate and print directly onto the building surface. Not only can this reduce the carbon footprint, but it can also help to significantly reduce the cost of the printing.
- UV Printing
Another technology that helps to reduce the impact of printing on the environment is UV printing. This involves the use of UV-curable inks – inks that are cured by exposing them to UV light. Unlike traditional inks (for example, solvent inks) curing UV inks is faster and requires less energy. As a result, this helps to significantly reduce the carbon footprint, thus reducing the impact of the printing process on the environment.
Printing on buildings is a great way to advertise your business/brand. However, depending on the materials you use and the printing technologies you opt for, you could end up harming the environment. However, there are several eco-friendly printing solutions, which can help you to conserve the environment, while still producing great printing results.