Printing Inks
Printing Inks
Phil Calderoni and Tadahisa Sasano and Anshwani K. Singh and Lani Ritchey and Ray Will


Printing inks are a customer- and applications-specific formulations business. Markets are many, but can be categorized into two major segmentsÛthe commercial printing/publishing industry and the packaging industry. Alternatively, printing inks are categorized by printing processÛlithography, rotogravure and flexography being the most important. However, digital printing is becoming more important and growing significantly. A reputation for both quality products and technical service is essential for a printing inks company.

Printing inks are mixtures of pigments dispersed in vehicles (combinations of oils, resins, organic solvents and/or water) plus chemical additives. The pigments are the most important part of the raw material cost and the major global printing ink manufacturers are producers of pigments.

In todayÌs global business market, interest in Asia is increasing. Seven of the most commonly pursued marketsÛChina, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and VietnamÛare home to more than 3 billion people, more than half of the worldÌs population. As the economies of these countries develop, a growing number of ink makers are seeing that the long-term business potential of this region outweighs the short-term economic difficulties some of these countries are currently experiencing. The East Asian printing inks market (excluding Japan) in 2005 is estimated to have had a volume of about 400 thousand metric tons, with China consuming approximately half. The market size in South America is around 100 thousand metric tons. India is increasing in importance as both a consumer and producer of printing inks. In the various countries of Asia, growth rates for printing ink consumption in the range of 5Ò6% are expected during 2005Ò2010.

Printing ink technology and formulations have changed significantly over the last decade. Water-based inks now exhibit significant market share and acrylate binders have shown good growth. Many kinds of inks that can be used in high-speed printing for nonporous polymeric film substrates have been developed. In fields such as packaging, flexographic water-based printing inks have been increasingly used in place of solvent-based printing inks, especially in the United States.

In 2005, printing ink consumption in the United States, Western Europe and Japan was estimated to be 3.0 million metric tons, representing a value of $11.5 billion. The United States is the largest consuming region, with a volume of just under 1.3 million metric tons and a dollar value of approximately $4.2 billion. The Japanese market is a higher-priced market in comparison with the United States and Western European markets.

Radiation-curable inks are used primarily in lithography and screen printing but are finding use in virtually all types of printing and imaging processes. A significant portion of the remaining letterpress market is UV cure, and this is the market with highest UV penetration, at about 20%. Ultraviolet- and electron beamÒcured inks are increasing their market share in the printing inks industry because of their better performance characteristics; lower VOC emissions; improvements in the production process regarding handling, productivity, quality and downtime; and the generation of less waste.

Electronic media have fragmented advertising, reducing advertising spending in print media, and causing the closure of magazine and newspapers. However, digital imaging, especially through ink jet printing, is increasingly becoming a major part of the ÏtraditionalÓ printing business. Computerized platemaking and printing stations (typically inkjet) that customize each printed product are becoming common technologies. Customization and quick turnaround for short runs are major customer demands being placed on the printing industry, and ink manufacturers must produce inks that accommodate these needs. New technologies that allow the printer to come up to color quickly and produce consistent color throughout the run are being used.

Menlo Park, California
SRI Consulting
4300 Bohannon Drive, Suite 200
Menlo Park, California 94025
Tel: +1 650 384 4300
Fax: +1 650 330 1149
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