TESLIN® Substrate Printing Guide: Offset Lithography

Ink Recommendations
While Teslin substrate is a synthetic printing product, it is unique among synthetics because of its porous and absorptive qualities. Teslin substrate works well with heat-set, cold-set, UV-curable, and waterless inks. However, to ensure performance on press, the proper ink must be used. Inks recommended for Teslin substrate are different than those used on other synthetics. They must be long bodied, low tack, very slow setting, and have a very high solids content but low volatile solvent content. These are not the typical inks used for printing non-absorbent plastic substrates. 
The absorptive nature of Teslin substrate allows inks to set very quickly. Drying or curing of the ink film occurs at a normal rate due to oxidation or cross-linking of the ink film. As a result, inks used with Teslin susbrate will be different than inks typically recommended for printing plastic films or other synthetic printing substrates.
Offset lithographic inks used with Teslin substrate should have these properties:
  • Less than 4 percent  VOC (compounds that evaporate within one hour at 230°F/110°C)
  • Tack of 12 at 1200 rpm
  • Good tack stability
  •  Slow setting
  • No Hansa® yellows because they have a tendency to strike through Teslin sheets. The color density on the printed surface remains constant; however, the yellow color migrates through the sheet to the back side. The phenomenon is related to the sublimation of the Hansa® yellow pigments.
Yellow pigments that have been used successfully:  
Yellow pigments to avoid:
  • Mono azo or arylide yellows; trade name: Hansa® yellow
Color Index # Name Shade
1 Arylide G Warm Yellow
3 Arylide 10G Greenish Yellow
Arylide 13G
Arylide RN
Slight Green
Reddish Yellow
73 Arylide GX Bright Yellow
74 Arylide 5GX Lemon Yellow
97 Arylide FGL Bright

While special inks are not necessary for use with Teslin substrate, several ink formulators have developed specific inks for added performance on Teslin sheets. The following is a limited list of ink suppliers who have prepared inks meeting the guidelines for printing on Teslin substrate. In most cases, the phone number given is for the contact location that supplied our ink sample. Most suppliers have multiple locations that can supply the correct ink. Other ink suppliers may also be able to supply correctly formulated inks to successfully print Teslin substrate.
Ink Supplier Website Ink Series
Braden Sutphin Ink www.bsink.com Teslin Synthetic Stock
Sun Chemical, Ltd. www.sunchemical.com BIO-Tech
Flint Ink www.flintgrp.com Agri-tek Process Colors (Soy Based)
Michael Huber München www.microinks.com Folien 49 N 5030
Inx International Inks www.inxink.com Teslin Synthetic Stock
Kramer Ink www.kramerink.com Teslin Synthetic Stock
Flint Ink, Ltd. www.flintink.com Agri-tek Process Colors (Soy Based)
Superior Inks www.superiorink.com Teslin Synthetic Stock
Toyo International Inks www.toyoink.com TSP-400
VanSon Holland www.vansonink.com Tough Tex, Tough Tex LR, Mega-laser
Colorcon www.colorcon.com FDA  Inks
SICPA (Security Inks) www.sicpa.com Plastoffset

Sheet Fed Offset Lithography

Individual sheets of Teslin substrate, versus continuous rolls, can be printed via the sheet fed printing process. Key points to remember when printing Teslin substrate are:
Press feed: For optimum press feed reliability, fan the sheets prior to printing. If possible, a mill cut edge should be the lead edge.
Inks: Teslin substrate will allow inks to set up very fast; at least as fast as uncoated paper, and much faster than other synthetics. Offsetting is not a problem. Most inks will take from 4 - 24 hours to reach maximum hardness. All yellow inks and match colors with yellow pigment content should be formulated for use with Teslin substrate.
Fountain solutions: Teslin substrate absorbs water on press the way paper does. There is no need to modify fountain solutions. Etch conditions used for paper should work fine. Fountain solutions between 4.5 - 6.0 pH are acceptable. The highest quality product will be obtained with minimum water.
Squeeze: Teslin substrate is porous and, therefore, compressible. Only minimal squeeze is required to ensure uniform coverage. Excessive squeeze could result in poor fit or loss of registration and print quality problems. If the job is being set up on paper, be sure to adjust squeeze for the actual thickness of Teslin substrate when you switch stocks. Measure the thickness because Teslin substrate is thicker than it feels. A squeeze of 0.5-1.0 mil (13-25 micron) should be sufficient.
Double feed: Make sure that the double feed detector is set properly.
Static build-up: Static should not be any more of a problem with Teslin substrate than with paper. If you do experience static, wind or fan the sheets as you would with paper. Use of static eliminating tinsel on the delivery section of the press can also help reduce static build-up.
Suction cups: Teslin substrate is very light. Excessive vacuum on suction cups can leave marks on the sheet surface. Therefore, the vacuum at the suction cups in the feed area should be reduced. If a sheet cleaner is used, it should be turned off. With thinner gauges, a very minimal amount of spray powder will help the sheets deliver.
Sweep settings: Sweep settings will be as much as 20 to 30 percent higher on Teslin substrate than with coated paper stocks.
Teslin substrate is stronger and more extensible than paper. If you experience a jam on press, remove the Teslin sheet with caution. It will not tear like paper.
Brushes and wheels should be moved to outside the print area if possible.

Web Fed Offset Lithography

Like individual Teslin sheet, continuous rolls of the substrate can be used for printing via the web printing process. Key points to remember when printing rolls of Teslin substrate are: 
Inks: High solids / low solvent inks are recommended for heat-set web printing on Teslin substrate (see Ink Requirements above). These inks work better than standard heat-set inks, which typically have high ink solvent contents. Teslin substrate readily absorbs ink solvents (e.g., Magie oils), which can lead to rapid tack build and back trap mottle or ink piling in multi-color presses if high solvent content inks are used. Ink tack should be appreciably lower (i.e., 12 at 1200 rpm) than that of standard heat-set inks for Teslin substrate to register properly.
Oven temperature: Drying oven temperatures can be lowered to about 150°F/66°C since: 
  1. There are no or low quantities of ink solvents to evaporate and set the ink, and 
  2. Teslin substrate loses strength at elevated temperatures (>200°F/93°C sheet temperatures), which leads to web stretching and loss of registration. Though Teslin substrate has a high ultimate tensile strength at room temperature, the loss of strength at excessive oven temperatures and press shut-downs can lead to web breaks.
Tension: Press tension control requirements (unwind, press and rewind) for Teslin substrate are similar to those needed for thin films. Because Teslin substrate is elastic, it should be run with a range of 0.5-1.0 lb/in (0.9-1.8 N/cm) of width tension.
On-line sheeting: On-line sheeting of Teslin substrate for consistent and accurate sheet length requires accurate sheeter adjustment, sharp sheeter blades, good blade tolerances and minimal web tension.
Ink recommendations for cold-set web printing of Teslin substrate are the same as those for sheet fed offset lithography (see Ink Requirements above). The tensioning guidelines given for heat-set web offset should be followed. It is possible to under tension Teslin substrate.