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Environment industries archive


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

The Printing Office
Cleaner Production - No Solvents Used in New Dampener - Roller Washing System


The Printing Office (TPO) is a medium sized print shop employing 30 staff. It specialises in the production of high quality, short run jobs.

In the printing industry, the use of solvents has always been a problem. Whether it is from the point of view of workplace health and safety or from environmental concern, any reduction in the use of solvents is a welcome change. Motivated by these issues, TPO decided to trial a new dampener roller washer system that uses no solvents.


The offset printing process requires a dampening system, which comprises three cloth covered rollers that supply a thin film of moisture to the printing plate. The roller covers become ink soiled with use, and require regular cleaning to keep spoilage to a minimum.

Cleaning used to be a slow process where the dampeners were manually sprayed with solvents and hosed down in a tub. This resulted in excessive machine down-time and water usage (as much as 200 litres per wash). The rollers would then have to be wrung out to remove excess water, which resulted in excess wear to the covers. Consequently, a more cost effective and environmentally friendly method of cleaning the dampeners was sought.


In 1998, TPO trialed a new process using high pressure water without any solvent to wash the dampeners. In this process, water was sprayed onto the rollers at high pressure and filtered through a Dacron filter pad before being reused.

The new process used only seven litres of water per week. The water pressure also caused the rollers to spin while they are washed, and the centrifugal force of the spinning rollers facilitated the drying of the covers after the water spraying was stopped.

The entire process took a little more than two minutes compared with more than ten minutes required by the old method. This enabled TPO to clean the dampeners more frequently to ensure consistent print quality without the incurrence of excessive production and maintenance costs.


Implementation of the project  resulted in the following outcomes:

Cost Savings

Two of  TPO’s presses use the offset process that utilises the dampener roller system. There are six rollers in all and they are washed on average three times a day. Estimated cost savings from the implementation of this project are over $31,820 per annum, in addition to an annual saving of 285,000 litres of water.

The machine was purchased for $3750. In the case of  TPO, this resulted in a payback period of around 1.3 months.

Other Improvements

TPO is willing to test alternative technologies as they come onto the market. Providing the quality of their work is not compromised, the potential to improve workplace health and safety as well as environmental performance is recognised as one way to increase productivity.

Other areas looked at included:

Further Developments

The Printing Office has continued to benefit from this initiative and has been using a Dampner Roller Washer since the successful trial. 

Other initiatives and achievements since 1998 have demonstrated  TPO's continuing commitment to pursuing environmental excellence. These have included:

Direct Image Heidelburg Printing Machine

Direct Image Heidelburg


Joe Clouston or Julie Nicholson
The Printing Office
8 Cordelia Street
PO Box 3066
South Brisbane QLD 4101
Phone: (07) 3844 7622
Fax: (07) 3844 8168
We site:
Email: sales@the