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South Yorkshire manufacturer launches "green" ink

A South Yorkshire ink manufacturer has launched a new product that it claims could revolutionise screen printing and save thousands of tons of carbon dioxide a year.

Magna Colours, of Dodworth, near Barnsley, has developed an ink for T-shirts that can be cured in half the time and at a lower temperature than traditional ink, so reducing energy use by up to 75%.

Operations manager Steve Noble said: “All of our products are environmentally-friendly as they are water-based, but with Aquafast110 we have gone one step further. And in these days of retailers being worried about their green credentials we believe this product really is pioneering.”

Barnsley Development Agency (BDA), a partner in the South Yorkshire Sector Growth Enhancement Programme (SYSGEP), helped Magna Colours apply for a grant from CO2Sense to help develop the new ink. BDA is also helping with advice over intellectual property.

The Aquafast110 ink can be cured at 110 degrees C in one and a half minutes, rather than at 165 degrees in three minutes for standard water-based inks. This means saving 113g of carbon dioxide for every T-shirt.

“It might seem a small saving per T-shirt, but multiply that by the millions that are printed each year and it adds up to potentially hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide,” added Steve.

“We are continually innovating and developing new products in our lab. Like in any industry if you stay still you are not going to survive.”

Magna Colours’ screen printing inks are exported to T-shirt manufacturers worldwide, with 85 per cent going outside the European Union to countries like China, India and Vietnam.

The company was started by the current managing director Tom Abbey’s father in a room above a shop in Almondbury near Huddersfield, in 1978, reselling printing inks. It now employs 28 people at its 30,000 square foot factory in Dodworth. Three of the 28 staff have been taken on this year, with a view to taking on further staff in the foreseeable future.

Adrian Waite is Barnsley Development Agency’s SYSGEP sector growth manager. SYSGEP is part-financed by the European Union’s 2007-13 European Regional Development Fund.

Adrian said: “This is a good example of how important it is for companies to invest in research and development. But the great thing is that there is financial support out there to do that.

“We were able to introduce a grant opportunity here that the company would not have discovered on its own. This new product should be very lucrative for Magna Colours.”

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