Advice Articles

Print protection with humidity control

June 7, 2022

Printing presses are fickle things. So is finishing equipment, cutting equipment, and all the other equipment that a printing company uses. This equipment can be very sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure. The problem is, printing companies have invested a lot of money in their equipment and paper stock. The last thing they want is for it to be ruined by humidity. A print company should be willing to invest slightly more to ensure the life and efficiency of print equipment.

Without some sort of humidity control, machines and paper stock are exposed to uncontrolled environments. This can mean that climate can change on an hourly basis. Low humidity can draw moisture from paper causing curling and tight edges. High humidity will affect the performance of both paper and machines. But a stable humidity reduces static and improves the dimensional stability of the paper. This results in a seamless and consistent print environment. It’s so important that press manufacturers require effective humidity control. This is to maintain the effective performance of their equipment, and detail the exact levels.

So, how can printing companies control their print environment to get the best out of their machinery, equipment and people?

Air quality

Just as importantly, humidity is a big contributor to indoor air quality. Poor air quality can lead to illness in staff, a lack of productivity and a much higher rate of absenteeism. Low humidity can make your eyes itchy, dry out your respiratory surfaces and dehydrate your body. Drying out mucous membranes in your body also means you can’t fight off airborne infections like colds and flu. Also, if your environment has a relative humidity of under 40% then you will feel colder than it is. The natural response will be to turn up the heating, increasing energy consumption and lowering the humidity even further.

Tailored approach

Here’s the thing – no two print environments are the same. So no two solutions should be the same either. It’s important to make sure that the solution you put in place is tailored to the conditions of the building and the types of machinery being used. At Humidity Solutions, we don’t believe in a one size fits all approach. Instead, each project is evaluated against a number of key criteria. Therefore the best solution is identified from all options available on the market.

Ideal options for print

So what’s the ideal solution? Well, for litho, large digital and web-based printers, a high-pressure system is perfect. High-pressure systems inject water into the air under pressure through a multi-directional, fan assisted set of nozzles. The pressure helps ensure water is atomised and absorbed into the air within 1.5 metres of the nozzle. The systems can be used with ceiling heights as low as 2.4 meters, with nozzle fan heads around the same size as a CCTV camera, so they are unobtrusive and can slot into any print environment. They can also be controlled by zones or individually, helping control the rate of humidification for each unique space from one control panel.

A key benefit of this approach is that it uses cold water, so no additional heat energy is required to run it. The absorption into the air (adiabatic humidification) also has a free cooling effect, which reduces the load on comfort cooling systems and helps them run more efficiently. For every 500 litres of water that’s evaporated the system provides around 34 kW of cooling for a power input of just 4kW. High-pressure systems have been successfully installed in many renowned web press publishing houses including the New York Times, News International, and the Daily Mail.

For smaller, digital print rooms Humidity Solutions have designed a bespoke unit – the Eiger.  It provides temperature and humidity control plus air filtration, air movement and fresh air from a single unit to ensure conditions remain in the Quality zone for optimum machine speeds and print quality.

Why is humidity control important in print?

It’s not just important, it’s an essential part of the printing process, and all press manufacturers require humidity control to ensure the effective performance of their equipment. Print halls are rarely seen without humidity controls in the rest of Europe, and now the UK is catching up with the benefits of humidity control and its implementation. It’s also worth noting that it’s not an overly expensive solution to implement – despite what you might think. And besides, compared to the cost of under-performing machines, constantly re-buying equipment and high staff turnover, it’s the cheapest solution you will ever implement.

At Humidity Solutions, we provide effective humidity control solutions for all shapes and sizes of print companies. From small independent units to large-scale print houses. Your solutions will be tailored to your needs, so you can be sure your humidity is being managed effectively. For more information on our solutions, or to ask us about print control in your organisation, get in touch with the team at Humidity Solutions today.