How Bourne Group is making signage more sustainable

Patrick McNulty discusses the benefits of digital-printed inks, LED printing processes and substrates
How Bourne Group is making signage more sustainable
Bourne Group is testing new wall coverings that may be able to be used in youth centres, such as the one on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess, which was created by SMC Design and produced and installed by Bourne Group

By Patrick McNulty |

Signage companies like Bourne Group have faced significant challenges when trying to manufacture sustainable signs for clients in the passenger shipping industry. Historically, it has been difficult to find the inks, substrates and quality equipment needed to design and produce them cost effectively.

However, digital-printed inks have improved vastly over the past few decades and low volatile organic compound inks are now available in large colour gamuts. This enables Bourne Group to create nearly odourless, VCL-free, durable, colourfast and high-quality prints, even on the thinnest and most heat-sensitive media.

Printing processes have advanced too. Many printers now use LED technology rather than traditional ultraviolet (UV) lighting elements, which can result in energy savings of up to 80 per cent when printing UV-cured inks. LEDs also last considerably longer, which makes them a good alternative for printing new and retrofitted signs.

In addition, sustainable substrates are now more readily available. Bourne Group, for example, is in the process of fire-testing a new wall covering for use on ships, which is constructed from recycled water bottles containing more than 30 per cent post-consumer recycled content, rather than PVCs, lead, plasticisers or heavy metals. Designs can be printed on the wall covering with a variety of ultraviolet-curable, solvent, eco-solvent or latex inks, which will allow us to meet our clients’ needs and fulfil our commitment to developing more sustainable products.

As with any new product for the marine industry, it will take time for all these materials to be certified for use onboard ships. However, the silver lining of the pandemic has been that we’ve had additional time to make progress in this regard. There is still a long way to go before sustainable signs become ubiquitous. However, the marine industry’s ongoing commitment to reducing its environmental impact has strengthened Bourne Group’s resolve to introduce more eco-friendly signage concepts as soon as the materials are readily available to us.

Patrick McNulty is owner and principal of Bourne Group

This article was first published in the 2021 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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