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8043Re: Soy update

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  • Gerald Lange
    Jul 9, 2007
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      Actually, I've not found any studies that indicate that soy-based ink
      is compatible with the letterpress process. With the legislation that
      has been passed and is pending, I wonder how long some of the older
      and trusted inks will be available. The push toward safer working
      conditions and concern for the environment, while admirable, doesn't
      necessarily translate into better materials for manufacturing processes.

      There were some studies a long while back on the chemical analysis of
      the ink used in Gutenberg's printed work. Apparently, he took the
      secret of it to his grave as even the subsequent printed work of Fust
      and Schoeffer does not share the formula. The rich and enduring black
      of the ink on the pages of the Gutenberg Bible is due to high
      concentration of lead, presumably lead carbonate (white lead). This is
      a highly toxic substance now banned to some extent in the manufacture
      of paint and volatile products, though still considered a qualitative

      As an aside: I have a book from 1909 titled The Lead and Zinc Pigments
      that details the manufacture of white lead with many photos of the
      processes. Those factory conditions are truly frightening, the workers
      literally lived and breathed the stuff, no gloves, no masks; even a
      photo of a proudly posed woman gathering the material in bare feet.
      We've come a very long way from that.


      > I would agree with you. Making sure that I, and any letterpress or
      offset printer I use, uses the ink [oil or rubber base] efficiently
      [minimize waste] and thoroughly [use up the can] is more important
      than just some soy content.
      > Heidrun

      > >
      > >My limited experience with soy inks has not been all that
      > >satisfactory. I can't get the quality of presswork that I've
      > >experienced with other inksâ€"I suspect that this has something to do
      > >with the carrier to pigment ratio in the blacks. Nor does soy ink seem
      > >to respond well with traditional additives, such as magnesium
      > >carbonate. Also, since it is considered more biodegradable than
      > >traditional inks I wonder about its longevity. Plus, it's a bit
      > >unnerving that the stuff can be washed off your hands with plain soap
      > >and water!!!
      > >
      > >Gerald
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