Thermal v Air-Cured Inks

/Thermal v Air-Cured Inks
Thermal v Air-Cured Inks 2018-02-21T06:58:34+00:00


It shouldn’t be … Not all screen printed bottles are created equal.

Thermal Inks (MFT Baked) verses Air-Cured inks (GL) on Screen Printed Bottles

From a consumer perspective, packaging has a powerful influence on purchasing decisions – the first sale is the label, the second is the product inside, therefore it’s important that the bottle decoration creates the best first impression.

Most bottles used in the beverage industry have protective treatment added to their surface which provides protection to the raw glass on the bottling line and during transportation. Referred to as a cold-end coating, as it’s applied at the end of the manufacturing process, it is this Duracoat that forms a protective layer on the container.

When a screen print image is printed onto the bottle surface, the ink system used determines how the image is held in place. Thermal inks (MFT) penetrate the protective bottle coating and bond directly with the glass becoming one with the bottle. This happens during the baking process and at the end of it, the protective coating is reapplied over the printed label and bottle once again. Air-Cured inks (GL) are printed at room temperature and bond with the protective coating covering the bottle, not the bottle itself.

Both ink systems are high-quality and capable of performing their appropriate roles in the market.

The pros and cons of the two screen printing processes – and when they should be considered.

Thermal v Air-Cured Screen Printed Label Comparison
Thermal Screen Printing Air-Cured Screen Printing
  • Long and short run
  • Export markets
  • High speed bottling lines
  • Extensive freight required
  • Permanent bonding
  • Fully recyclable
  • Excellent adhesion (molecular bonding to glass)
  • Up to 10 colour printing
  • Boutique runs
  • Local market
  • Low speed bottling lines
  • Minimal freight required
  • Adhesion not critical
  • Minimal packaging and handling
  • Decoration of filled bottles
  • Increased colour range
  • Up to 2 colours


The Thermal print process is recommended for both long and short runs on high-speed or boutique bottling lines, where label adhesion and integrity is critical, eg. export markets where extensive freight is required. Thermal inks can only be used on empty glass bottles before filling.

The Air-Cured print process is recommended on wine bottles that have already been filled and for short runs where bottles are hand packed or individually wrapped. It is not recommended for empty bottle export or where long-haul freight is involved.

Screen Printed Bottles vs Clear Labels Comparison

Thermal Ink Label