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The Verdigris blog: ISO 21632 for calculating the energy usage of digital printing devices

2018.11.28




It's got a long and clumsy title, but what ISO 21632 (Graphic technology - Determination of the energy consumption of digital printing devices including transitional and related modes) can do for the graphics industry has nothing to do with clumsiness. Far from it. This document will help make short run digital printing devices, including large format machines, much more environmentally accountable.
 

ISO 21632 is due for imminent publication, and has much in common with ISO 20690 (Graphic technology - Determination of the operating power consumption of digital printing devices) published earlier this year. The two documents are intended to achieve the same goals, however they are tailored for very different situations. ISO 20690 provides a standard reference for calculating energy consumption as the press is running, based on the kilowatt-hours required to digitally print 1000 A4 sheets.
 

ISO 21632 is a standard reference for digital production printing devices used for relatively short run lengths, and which use relatively high amounts of transitional energy, including surge power. These operating transitions can make a substantial difference to the overall energy profile and are not taken into account in ISO 20690.
 

The basic difference between the two documents is that one is more suitable for digital presses used to produce long runs without multiple operational transitions. The other, ISO 21632, is designed for digital presses used to produce on demand applications such as photobooks, sign and display work and other types of print produced in short runs. The standards distinguish between devices that have one print mode, say production or best quality and devices that in addition have multiple modes such as sleep and print ready.
 

These documents are both important because they provide the tools that allow us to do complete Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) on digital printing devices. LCA is necessary to make digital presses environmentally accountable, and allows printers, press manufacturers and print buyers a means to assess the overall environmental impact of their print related activities.
 

Whether that matters, given the environmental apathy that seems to infect the graphics industry, depends on where you sit in the supply chain. The best we can hope for is that machine manufacturers, print buyers, printing companies and industry associations take a leadership position on this industry's environmental impact. The worse case is that print continues to lose out to electronic media, despite their lack of sustainability credentials and inability to support the circular economy. Arguments and tools for supporting print's environmental sustainability are increasingly abundant. But unless they are used to make a constructive case for the graphics industry's sustainability, the slope might be more slippery than we thought.