The Resin Report
Providing strong product development and expertise is helping resin manufacturers make gains in the marketplace.
By David Savastano
“Noveon did well in 2006,” said Carol Durgan, tactical marketing manager, Noveon Resins and Polymers. “We introduced several new products during the year and look forward to another successful year in 2007.”
“2006 was a successful year for Rohm and Haas, with moderate growth across all product lines and customer segments,” said Holly J. Anderson, senior sales executive, graphic arts for Rohm and Haas Company.
“BASF Resins experienced a robust first half of 2006 reflecting the underlying strength of the U.S. economy and printing/packaging industry; the second half of 2006 reflected slower growth,” said Rick Krause, business manager for BASF Resins. “Like the ink industry, volume and sales were solid, but pressure on profitability remained.”
“For us, 2006 was a good year after a slow 2005,” said Ivo Lansbergen, business director, adhesives and graphic arts for DSM NeoResins.
The energy-curable market proved to be good for resin suppliers.
“We saw growth in our customer base and in our business,” said Scott Ravech, Cytec’s business director, Radcure-Americas. “We attribute this to aligning our business closer with our customers’ needs, with a focus on new product innovation and greater technical service and development.”
“Industry-wise, the market segment for UV/EB-curable inks continued to grow at a faster pace than the market segment for traditional inks,” said Mike Kucharski, Cytec’s market manager-graphic arts, Radcure-Americas. “The printing industry is using energy-curable ink technology for specialized applications, including food packaging, security/plastic cards and both digital and high-end printing.”
“We have seen the typical 7 to 10 percent growth in the radiation-cured area and we are expecting larger growth for the future,” said Jim Horgan, vice president, technology, Sartomer Company. “As energy costs have skyrocketed the last several years, the industry is finding the low energy cost UV-curing technology a big advantage over old, energy-intensive technologies. UV/EB curing will greatly decrease costs for the ink and other coatings industries.”
Ink Industry Trends
There are fundamental changes occurring in the ink industry, as some production shifts to Asia and consolidation continues. Resin manufacturers are monitoring these changes closely.
For example, Mr. Lansbergen noted the ongoing consolidation of ink manufacturing capacity, increasing importance of Asia, greater focus on the absence of some chemically substances and interest in water-based binders.
John O’Mahoney, president of Arez International, Ltd. noted that continuing M&A activity and geographical restructuring seem likely to continue.
“The industry continues to face numerous challenges, including volatile raw material cost, geographical restructuring, etc.,” said Mr. O’Mahoney.
Photo courtesy of BASF Resins
Ink manufacturers are relying on their resin suppliers to help develop new formulations as well as to provide expertise.
“Suppliers are having to balance customers’ needs for improved cost productivity with the needs for developing ever-advancing product technologies and technical resources,” Mr. Ravech said.
“More companies are utilizing our advanced labs and technical development resources,” said Jo Ann Arceneaux, Cytec’s TS&D manager-graphic arts, Radcure-Americas. “Being able to trial new formulations on real presses before you ship the product to the customer can make all the difference in the world.
“Also, we’re getting more inquiries from our ink customers about the new REACH regulations, and about our new low-odor/low-extractable resins that are designed for indirect packaging printing,” Ms. Arceneaux added.
Providing value and containing costs are essential to success.
“All companies within the printing, publishing and packaging industries are dealing with fundamentally higher costs and face the ongoing globalization of customers and suppliers,” Mr. Krause said. “These are permanent changes and present challenges we all must address.
“Feedstock costs and ongoing pressure on profitability continue to challenge the polymer and resin industry,” Mr. Krause said. “Everyone within the graphic arts marketplace is faced with similar challenges. Cost effectiveness and delivering end-user value in partnership with our customers will continue to be critical to our mutual success. Each of our respective companies needs to seek adequate reinvestment levels to ensure ongoing sustainability in the ink industry.
“Cost effectiveness with value-in-use performance is a particularly high priority in today’s business environment,” Mr. Krause added. “BASF Resins continues to invest in advancements to water-based technology that bring value to the printer, converter, ink manufacturer and overprint varnish manufacturer. Ink companies continue to look at how they can enable their customers to apply color on a printed surface in the most cost-effective, environmentally-conscious and printer-friendly manner.”
Ms. Anderson noted that water-based systems continue to draw increased interest.
“Interest continues to remain strong in pH neutral/stable water-based systems,” Ms. Anderson said. “The value that this technology brings to the printer is evident, and Rohm and Haas continues to build upon its portfolio of products that support its growth.”
Challenges Facing The Resin Industry
There are a variety of important issues facing resin manufacturers. Mr. O’Mahoney and Mr. Lansbergen both said that resin companies must drive growth through new technologies.
“We believe the resin producer must invest more time and effort in advancing the technologies prevalent in the sector as cost elimination as a driver towards increased profitability would appear to have all but run its course,” Mr. O’Mahoney said. “Arez has and will continue to invest in technology, equipment and personnel to specifically meet the challenges.”
“The most difficult challenge is to introduce new products in an ever-increasing cost-competitive market,” Mr. Lansbergen said. “Due to focus on cost in the value chain, focus on technical innovations has reduced, making it increasingly more difficult to differentiate between competition. DSM NeoResins is increasing its focus on introducing new innovative products on the market. DSM NeoResins has set up innovation centers with only one goal: introducing new products meeting customer needs.”
There is expansion occurring among resin manufacturers.
“Having recently completed the Phase II expansion, we expect to continue to grow our business at a rate far in excess of the industry as a whole,” Mr. O’Mahoney said. “Arez has done well as a newcomer to the industry during this challenging period.”
“2007 will be an exciting year for BASF Resins,” Mr. Krause continued. “We expect to introduce a number of new water-based polymer products. We will be re-locating to our new commercial and technical headquarters in Wyandotte, MI. We will begin construction of our new state-of-the-art Joncryl plant in Wyandotte, where BASF is making a significant investment in the graphic arts and coatings industries. We’re also learning more about the variety of products, chemistries and technologies within BASF that we hope to share with the graphic arts industry.”
With greater emphasis being placed on environmental issues, energy-curable resin suppliers are poised to continue their growth as companies look to switch to UV or EB.
“The biggest challenge for us is to educate the industry on the benefits of switching from the old energy-intensive curing process to the UV/EB technology,” Mr. Horgan said.
“We are seeing wide acceptance of the new products we have brought to the industry in recent years: pigment dispersion, monofunctional monomers, screen ink vehicles and low viscosity pigment grinding vehicles for UV liquid and inkjet ink,” Mr. Horgan added.
“As global competition increases, retail merchandisers will need to launch higher-performance products faster while also managing costs,” said Mr. Kucharski. “This will involve more energy-curable printing on the full spectrum of substrates and presses. In particular, there will be more differentiated packaging types and forms that will increase the product’s appeal. And while the retail and marketing side is driving innovation, we will continue addressing ongoing regulatory standards, such as REACH and the need to lower VOC levels.”
Resin suppliers are working to determine how REACH will impact their business as well as their customers.
“The European REACH regulations will have a big impact on the food packaging printing industry,” said Maureen Waite, Cytec’s chief product steward, Radcure and powder coating resins. “Raw material suppliers will have to assess each of their products and fill data gaps where necessary, determine and communicate risk management practices, and work with their supply chains and customers to ensure REACH compliance.”
Expectations for The Coming Year
Even with the challenges being faced by resin companies, there is a sense of optimism about the coming year.
“Noveon looks forward to a very exciting year in 2007. We plan new product introductions for 2007 that will be exciting,” Ms. Durgan said.
Mr. Lansbergen anticipates continued growth of DSM NeoResins’ business, especially in Asia. “After some good growth figures in 2006 we expect Europe and North America to stabilize and to grow at much more moderate growth rates than 2006,” Mr. Lansbergen added.
There is solid growth in the energy-curing marketplace, which is driving growth in the resin business.
“We expect continued growth and demand, especially as more companies realize the advantages of UV/EB printing – speed of curing, cost productivity, lower energy costs – and take advantage of our technical development capabilities,” Mr. Ravech said.
Economic growth will be a key to success for the resin industry in general.
“We see stability and modest growth, but the general economic climate will dictate how 2007 will shape up overall,” Ms. Anderson said.
“Economic forecasts continue to point to an easing of growth for the U.S. economy, but growth nonetheless,” Mr. Krause said. “We’re expecting our business to continue to grow steadily throughout 2007.”
Raw Material Pricing and Supply and the Resin Industry
Higher raw material costs continue to be a major concern for resin manufacturers, as the price of feedstocks, an essential building block, continue to rise.
“The extreme volatility of feedstocks continues to be a challenge,” said Scott Hain, Cytec’s vice president, global procurement-specialty chemicals. “The cost for propylene and benzene just tied or hit new record highs. For instance, the cost of propylene increased from $0.39/lb. in December 2006 to $0.52/lb. in May 2007.”
“We also see continued global volatility in the cost of crude oil and natural gas, which will put upward pressure on the price of downstream derivatives over the next 90 to 120 days,” Mr. Hain predicted. “Supply-wise, we’ve taken measures to protect our long-term supply position and flexibility globally.”
“We have found that our raw material prices are more affected by the supply/demand balance than by the base raws (oil, natural gas),” Mr. Horgan noted. “This has allowed our raw material prices to hold steady, even when oil drops.”
“Continued pressure on raw material pricing will be a challenge for the industry,” Ms. Durgan said. “We are trying to keep our raw material cost in-line.”
“Petrochemical feedstock pricing continues to remain high and while supply is tight, there have been no disruptions in our polymer supply to customers,” Ms. Anderson noted. “Some, but not all, of the rise in costs were passed on to the ink industry in 2006.”
“Raw materials did increase towards the end of last year,” Mr. Lansbergen noted. “DSM NeoResins increased its prices by the beginning of 2007. We keep following the raw material prices trend carefully. Currently, markets seem to be fairly balanced. Oil and benzene, a major pre-cursor for many raw materials, however did increase again, which could result in more pressure.”
Despite some relative stability in raw material costs, profitability remains a challenge for resin manufacturers, as it has been virtually impossible to pass along all the price increases that have occurred.
“2006 brought a degree of cost stability compared to the dramatic industry-wide increases observed in 2004 and 2005,” Mr. Krause noted. “Yet, pressures on profitability remain significant throughout the ink industry and with their raw material suppliers. No company has been able to pass on the entire amount of cost increases – everyone is sharing the pain. If global economic growth continues to be healthy throughout 2007, basic feedstock costs are unlikely to ease, and costs remain susceptible to petrochemical feedstock shocks and volatility. Profitability will continue to be a challenge for the industry in 2007 and beyond.”
“As is common in the resin industry, there is always a time delay in raw material cost increases and the ability to reflect these increases in the selling price,” Mr. O’Mahoney said. “This trend was particularly evident in the earlier part of 2006, although the major raw materials have stabilized in the interim.”
New Resin Products
The following listing includes resin products introduced to the printing ink industry in the past year.
16 East Main St.
Mendham, NJ 07945
Phone: (973) 543-6900
Fax: (973) 543-6997
Comments: In 2006, Arez introduced approximately 15 innovative offset resins, grouped in three series. Each of the series brought extra properties to resins. The following three resins are representative for each series.
• Arez PM1129 (1100 series)
Comments: To improve flushing and pigment wetting properties, Arez PM1129 was developed. Arez PM1129 yields – with reduced solid level – an ink system with higher gloss. This almost Newtonian resin is very soluble in paraffinic and mineral distillates.
• Arez PM1233 (1200 series)
Comments: The 1200 series resins improve the general lithographic properties. By reducing the resin polarity and polar density in the polymer chain, a better water balance was found. Arez PM1233 provides high gloss, fast setting and excellent press stability under high shear conditions. Combined with the low misting level, Arez PM1233 is well suited for sheetfed and web-fed offset inks.
• Arez PM1327 (1300 series)
Comments: The extremely high molecular weight 1300 series was developed to yield a higher structure and to reduce solids by about 15% in the varnish. Arez PM1327 provides a lower tack, improves water pick-up properties and allows for elimination of gelling agent. With this new technology, the improved litho properties, a stable rheology and low misting can be obtained more easily in the formulation.
1609 Biddle Ave.
Wyandotte MI 48192
Phone: (800) 231-7868
Fax: (800) 437-3266
• Joncryl 2037
Comments: Joncryl 2037 is an improved alkaline resistant non-film forming acrylic emulsion. Joncryl 2037 combines improved chemical resistance with on-press resolubility; provides resistance to household cleaners and alkaline solutions; cleans up easily with very good press resolubility; and is compatible with a wide range of coalescing solvents.
• Joncryl 2664
Comments: Joncryl 2664 is a film-forming acrylic emulsion for high quality, fine line anilox flexo printing. Joncryl 2664 enables the formulation of high color strength inks for high quality flexo printing; achieves low viscosity inks with up to 25% pigment loads for fine line anilox rolls exceeding 800 lines per inch and under 2.0 BCM volumes; and provides viscosity stability, transfer, adhesion and gloss suitable for paper, film and foil substrates.
• Joncryl HPD 296
Comments: Joncryl HPD 296 is a high performance dispersion resin solution that enables stable, high solids, low viscosity pigment dispersions. Use of Joncryl HPD 296 allows for 40% or higher organic pigmented dispersions; improves shock and storage stability to reduce waste; enables high strength, low viscosity inks for fine line anilox printing; and improves milling efficiency and throughput.
• Joncryl FLX 5000
Comments: Joncryl FLX 5000 is a self-crosslinking emulsion with excellent press resolubility that rivals solvent-based ink performance on polyethylene film. Joncryl FLX 5000 develops excellent rub, wet crinkle and deep freeze resistance; provides excellent adhesion to polyolefin films; and provides a cost-effective and environmentally-compliant alternative to solvent-based inks.
• Joncryl HR 1687
Comments: Joncryl HR 1687 is a high performance hot mar resistant emulsion for inks and overprint varnishes. Joncryl HR 1687 provides excellent hot mar and scuff resistance for pre-print corrugated applications with very good gloss, heat resistance, and high slide angle – all without metallic crosslinkers.
P.O. Box 123
5140 AC Waalwijk
Phone: +31 416 689911
Fax: +31 416 689922
• NeoRez P-900 adhesive resins
Comments: NeoRez P-900 is a high molecular weight polyester resin ideal for film to film and film to foil lamination applications.
• NeoRez R-552 adhesive resins
Comments: NeoRez R-552 is a polyurethane dispersion that is APEO and TEA free (HAPS free) for automotive and industrial laminating applications.
• NeoRez U-410 graphic arts resins
Comments: NeoRez U-410 is an elastomeric solvent urethane laminating ink resin designed for high speed flexo and gravure printing.
• NeoPac E-200 graphic arts resins
Comments: NeoPac E-200 is a waterborne urethane acrylic ink resin designed for flexo and gravure laminating inks for packaging applications.
• NeoCryl B-819 graphic arts resins
Comments: NeoCryl B-819 is a solid acrylic resin exposing excellent compatibility with nitrocellulose in flexo inks.
• NeoCryl FL-715 film coating resins
Comments: NeoCryl FL-715 is an acrylic emulsion for application as a heat seal coating for OPP packaging film with broader food contact approval.
• NeoCryl FL-735 film coating resins
Comments: NeoCryl FL-735 is an acrylic emulsion for application as an anti-static coating for filmic substrates including OPP and PET.
• NeoRez R-610 film coating resins
Comments: NeoRez R-610 is an aliphatic urethane dispersion for application as a primer onto filmic substrates including OPP and PET.
Hexion Specialty Chemicals
180 East Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 225-4000
Fax: (614) 225-3339
• Alpha-Rez 9410S Hydrocarbon Hybrid Resin Solution
Comments: Alpha-Rez 9410S can be used in formulating heatset vehicles. It can serve as a stand-alone high gloss heatset let-down. Alpha-Rez 9410S takes advantage of Hexion’s state-of-the-art resin technology. This innovative hybrid resin chemistry produces vehicles which exhibit excellent gloss, transfer, and lithographic ink-water balance. Vehicles based on Alpha-Rez 9410S set at low oven temperatures and exhibit fast solvent release.
• Alpha-Rez 4194S Resin Solution
Comments: Alpha-Rez 4194S can be used as a heatset vehicle or as a component in a heatset vehicle formulation. It can serve as a stand alone high gloss heatset let-down. Alpha-Rez 4194S utilizes an optimized blend of proprietary resin chemistries. This blend provides the formulator with the tools to achieve optimum gloss, transfer, lithographic ink-water balance and superior rub resistance at today’s web speeds and oven temperatures.
• Alpha-Rez 7000S Hydrocarbon Hybrid Solution
Comments: Alpha-Rez 7000S is a hydrocarbon hybrid resin solution based on new and innovative processing and chemistry, and provides optimum production flexibility and product consistency. Alpha-Rez 7000S provides the formulator with a resin system that is rheologically optimized for web offset applications. Alpha-Rez 7000S also exhibits excellent ink-water balance and heat stability while maintaining transfer and set speed at today’s web speeds and oven temperatures.
9911 Brecksville Road
Cleveland, OH 44141
Phone: (216) 447-5000
Fax: (216) 447-5238
• Carboset GA 2921
Comments: Carboset GA 2921 is an acrylic copolymer emulsion designed for use in printing on films, foil and where the use of a softer emulsion would be appropriate. Carboset GA 2921 adheres to a wide variety of films including treated polyethylene (shopping bags and frozen food bags), treated or coated polypropylene (confectionary wraps and bakery packaging), and treated polyester. Properly formulated inks and overprint varnishes utilizing Carboset GA 2921 will exhibit excellent adhesion, gloss, water resistance and “ice crinkle.”
Rohm and Haas
727 Norristown Road
Spring House, PA 19477
Phone:(800) FOR RESN
Fax: (215) 641-7027
• Morcryl 410
Comments: Morcryl 410 is a new pigment dispersing resin that offers excellent pigment wetting at high loadings as well as outstanding viscosity stability and rheology with difficult pigments. Pigment grind loadings of >38% with low cost carbon black pigments and P/B ratios of up to 6/1 are possible with many organic colorants. Morcryl 410 based color dispersions can be used with both conventional letdown emulsions and neutral pH letdowns.
502 Thomas Jones Way
Exton, PA 19341
Phone: (800) SARTOMER
Fax: (610) 363-4140
Comments: CN9167 is a urethane acrylate with good water balance and fast cure response for UV/EB litho inks.
Comments: CN2207 is a polyester acrylate with good cure speed and excellent pigment wetting characteristics for UV/EB litho and rotary screen inks.
Comments: CN2304 is a hyperbranched polyester acrylate that offers low odor and low extractable properties in combination with fast cure response, low viscosity and low shrinkage. CN2304 is especially suited for UV flexo and rotary screen inks.
Additionally, Sartomer continues to support its offerings for high functionality, hyperbranched polyester acrylates (the CN2300 series) for enhancement of cure speed and cured ink properties. New versions are in development. New monomer diluents also are available for viscosity and performance adjustment in various ink applications ranging from offset, flexo, screen and digital printing. Various other products are in development with the company’s U.S. and European research groups. Again, these development efforts focus on the broad needs of the graphic arts market.