Coming to America
In August 2009, Ruco Inks of Eppstein, Germany, opened Ruco USA in Wood Dale, Ill., near Chicago. Jeff Morris, president of Ruco USA, recently fielded some questions regarding the new plant and the company's plans for the future.
How did Ruco Inks originate, and why was Ruco USA created?Ruco was founded in Germany in 1857, focusing initially on supplying the U.S. government with black ink for printing currency. Throughout the latter 19th and into the mid-20th century, Ruco developed new inks for the gravure process, as well as flexo, offset and letterpress inks.
In the late 1950s, Ruco began supplying commercial screen printing inks, and, in 1974, we introduced our first ultraviolet (UV) screen products. Since then, we have become worldwide suppliers of UV screen, dry offset and flexo inks to markets as diverse as narrow web label printing, architectural and furniture glass printing, glass and plastic cosmetic and beverage container printing, and many more.
In 2009, we opened our new wholly owned facility near Chicago, Ill., for the purpose of expanding our UV product line in North America. Today, we are able to provide UV inks from this facility, which boasts complete and state-of-the-art, purpose-built lab areas for color matching and quality control, as well as ink adhesion testing.
What products does Ruco USA offer for the ceramic/glass industry?Since 1999, Ruco has offered UV-curable inks to the glass and ceramic markets, including solutions for beverage containers, flat glass for gaming, the architectural and furniture industries, and more. Our UV glass inks are completely free of heavy metals and feature excellent product resistance without the need for a heat cure.
In addition to the standard 12-color mixing systems, we have the ability to match any custom color. We also offer specialty products and varnishes, such as a frost effect lacquer to simulate frosted glass, a highly reflective metallic line that is suitable as a replacement for foil stamping, a 3-D relief lacquer and many more products.
Glass and ceramic manufacturers in the U.S. are at a watershed moment concerning how their products are decorated, with expanding consumer regulations affecting the scope of their choices. As one of the first manufacturers of UV ink for glass, we are ahead of the trends and regulations and in a unique position to offer glass and ceramic printers a wealth of knowledge and experience on the subject of not just ink adhesion, but also the integral relationship between the printing machine, ink, UV curing equipment, cold-end coating, tin oxide-coated glass, etc.
What does Ruco USA have planned for the future?We've been committed to providing glass and ceramic printers with quality UV ink solutions for more than 10 years. With growing safety and health concerns, more and more companies are turning to UV inks as a safe, effective option. We intend to continue to increase industry awareness of the opportunities that are possible with UV inks and remain poised as a leading ink supplier to the industry.
For additional information, contact Ruco USA Inc. at 915 N. Central Ave., Wood Dale, IL 60191; (866) 373-7912; fax (800) 894-0715; or visit www.rucousa.com.
SIDEBAR: UV Ink Basicsby George Koch, Technical Support, Ruco Druckfarben, Germany
The latest generation of UV-curable inks for glass and ceramics cure using standard UV bulbs, eliminating the need for expensive and slow gas lehrs or batch ovens. UV inks are also able to withstand in excess of 2500 industrial and 500 home dishwasher cycles (150°F for 90 minutes), and they offer high chemical and abrasion resistance, especially for the cosmetic industry.
In addition to cost savings, UV-curable inks for glass also deliver innovative special effects, such as a special "transparent window" effect onto an acid matte glass surface, fluorescent colors, metallic effects, metal flakes, high-metallic brilliant gold and silver, tinted varnishes, pearlescent effects, and different textures (matt, frosted and glossy).
Glass beverage containers typically receive a spray coating immediately after the annealing process. This "cold-end" coating is based on waterborne polyethylene and other materials. While it is often considered necessary to avoid blocking during the filling process, the coating also interferes with proper UV ink adhesion and must be removed prior to printing with UV inks.
A flame pre-treatment, together with a silicate pre-treatment, is required for best scratch, abrasion and water resistance. In markets that do not have stringent requirements, only a flame pre-treatment to remove the cold-end coating is necessary. On spray-coated bottles based on epoxy resins, a standard pre-treatment by flame is sufficient for excellent results.
UV ink technology has become an established, proven solution for the decoration of glass and ceramic products. New developments in UV ink technology are constantly offering innovative ways to meet customer demands.