NPIRI Technical Conference Focuses on Inkmaker – Printer Relationship
The conference offered first-hand knowledge of the relationship between ink companies and printers.
By David Savastano
The relationship between ink manufacturers and printers is critical, especially as both industries
Dr. Kotaro Morita, fourth from left, INX International Ink Co.’s senior vice president and chief technical officer, this year’s Technical Achievement Award recipient, is joined by past honorees, from left, Pete Notti of Ink Systems, Andrew Matthews of Flint Group, Joseph Cichon of INX International Ink, Sal Moscuzza of Superior Printing Ink and Lawrence Lepore of US Ink.
The conference, which was held at the Eaglewood Resort and Spa, Itasca, IL from Sept. 5-7, provided first-hand knowledge of the relationship between ink companies and printers, as Rick Clendenning, INX International Ink Co.’s president and CEO, Jerry Faust, director of quality for Time Inc. Production, and Tony Difford, manager, business integration – innovation – technology, of Cascades, were among those who brought their perspectives to attendees.
The conference opened on Sept. 5 with a pair of concurrent short courses. The first, “Color Basics,” was led by Steve Miller, Sun Chemical Corporation North American Inks, and covered history of color management in the graphic arts industry, color theory and color measurement and mapping. “Non-Impact Printing 101,” conducted by Grant Shouldice of SunJet, presented an overview of the various types of non-impact printing including process steps, hardware, capabilities and inks/toners.
After lunch, the opening session was held, led off by Mr. Clendenning, who discussed “Ink Manufacturers & Printers – Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow.” Mr. Clendenning, who received NAPIM’s 2007 Ault Award, the most prestigious award in the U.S. ink industry, addressed the increasing difficulty and importance of developing strong customer relationships in the highly competitive market.
Dr. Sobhy El-Hefnawi, left, recently retired from Cognis, received the TAM Service Award from NPIRI president Joseph Cichon of INX International Ink Co.
To illustrate his point, Mr. Clendenning noted that INX once had 56 locations throughout the U.S. to service accounts. While that number is down to 26 today, the company now has 200 in-plants throughout the U.S., some as large as the old branches.
“If you don’t take care of your customers, some one will be happy to do so,” Mr. Clendenning noted.
Mr. Clendenning was followed by Mr. Faust of Time, Inc., who focused on “Challenges and Trends in Magazine Publishing.” Noting higher postage rates and the use of lower basis weight paper, Mr. Faust focused on lowering costs to maintain the profitability of magazines, and took aim at ink.
“Ink is a significant rising percentage of total printing cost,” Mr. Faust said. “We need higher mileage inks, reduce our ink spend, higher gloss inks for increased page snap and a reliable method for measuring ink consumption.”
Mr. Difford then presented “Packaging – Current Challenges & Future Trends,” a look at how consumer product companies are looking for innovative ways to package their products while staying within the guidelines of sustainable packaging initiatives. Mr. Difford noted efforts to drive out foil-based packaging, and the impact of the new hybrid presses. He also showcased some of the innovative folding carton designs, and noted the gains being made by folding carton in light of sustainability initiatives.
The session closed with “New Grease for Old Parts,” by Graham Battersby, a consultant who was formerly with Flint Group, who compared the best and worst ink technicians. The first day concluded with tabletops, poster boards and a reception.
On Sept. 6, the conference held two concurrent sessions: Publication/ Commercial and Packaging.
On hand for INX International Ink Co. are, from left, Joseph Cichon, John Hrdlick, Dan Lombardo, Rick Westrom, Dr. Kotaro Morita, George Polasik, Rick Clendenning, Kim Kroncke and Mark Hill.
On the publication and commercial side, which was moderated by Pete Notti of Ink Systems, Paula Gurnee of Ink Systems led off with “How G7 Impacts Ink Makers and Their Customers.” Ms. Gurnee presented an overview of the process of calibrating a press. “Paper – Current Challenges and Future Trends,” led by Douglas McArthur of UPM North America, discussed the impact of finances, green marketing and faster presses, and noted the importance of adapting and rising to new challenges.
Press technology was the focus of the next two talks. Christopher Travis of KBA North America Sheetfed Division led the talk on “New Press Technology and Its Impact on Inkmakers.” He was followed by Rob Meij, Drent Goebel, who discussed “Staying Ahead of a Changing Print Market by Use of the Variable Sleeve Printing Press.”
Joseph Truncale concluded the session with “Commercial Printing – Perspective for the Printing Ink Industry.”
Mr. Truncale noted that the number of printers in the U.S. is down 17.2 percent in the past eight years. “The printing industry is not simply changing,’ Mr. Truncale said. “It is being redefined. The critical issue for printers is getting the chance to know their clients’ business intimately and to show how they can make those businesses more successful.”
On the packaging side, moderated by Superior Printing Ink’s Richard Czarnecki, John Mayer of Western Michigan University led off with “Western’s Pressroom Speeds New Products to Market,” a look at WMU’s pilot plants and its flexo and gravure capabilities.
Thomas Carlson, Sid Richardson Carbon & Energy Co., next discussed “Plasma Treated Carbon Blacks as Pigments for Aqueous Ink Applications,” examining some of the work involving the use of plasma treatment to modify the surface of carbon black and the resulting changes in pigment behavior in aqueous media.
Ted Schaffer of Fujifilm Graphic Systems U.S.A., Inc. covered “Influence of Flexographic Plates on Printability,” a discussion of the different kinds of flexographic plates that are available in the market place, improvements in plate technology that have been made in recent years and how this impacts ink.
Mark Hill, INX International Ink Co., followed with “Technical Challenges for Liquid Ink Application to Nonporous Substrates,” covering the key factors to consider when formulating liquid inks for non-porous substrates, both surface and reverse printing – customer expectations, performance challenges and adhesion issues.
“Printing with Energy Curable Inks on Narrow Web,” presented by Kishore Sarkar of Gallus, closed the session. He included a history of energy curable printing, areas of growth, pros/cons of energy curable inks, printer’s needs and working together with the other printers’ vendors.
“I learned a few things,” Mr. Czarnecki said afterward. “The presentations were interesting, and there were many questions as well.”
In the evening, NAPIM presented its Technical Achievement Award (TAA) and Technical Associate Member (TAM) Service Award during its award banquet.
Dr. Kotaro Morita, INX International Ink’s senior vice president and chief technical officer, received the Technical Achievement Award, while Sobhy El-Hefnawi, recently retired from Cognis, received the TAM Service Award.
The closing session on Sept. 7 began with “Biodegradable Binder System for the Inkjet Applications,” the second-place NPIRI Lecture paper, presented by Ron Schuck of Penn Color.
The opening session included presentations by, from left, Tony Difford of Cascades, Rick Clendenning of INX International Ink Co., Jerry Faust of Time Inc. Production, conference chair John Edelbrock of Color Resolutions International,and Graham Battersby, formerly with Flint Group.
Next, David Campbell of BASF Performance Resins presented “Fundamental Aspects of Paper/ Polymer Interaction and Their Effect on Ink and Barrier Coating Properties,” the first-place NPIRI Lecture Paper. Mr. Campbell’s paper examined fundamental aspects of the physical interactions between polymer formulations, paper substrates and application methods with specific attention to grease barrier performance.
NAPIM’s George Fuchs concluded the conference with “GHS and Its Impact on the Graphic Arts Industry,” a look at the proposed changes to the Hazard Communication Standard from the adoption of the Global Harmonization System (GHS) and the potential impact on ink manufacturers.
Overall, NAPIM officials were pleased with the program.
“The program focused on our industry’s needs, particularly the importance of customer service,” said NPIRI president Joseph Cichon, senior vice president, manufacturing technology for INX International Ink.
“The conference went very well,” said conference chair John Edelbrock, vice president of manufacturing for Color Resolutions International. “We opened the conference with really strong presentations, and having two printers speaking helped set the tone.
“I thought the program was exceptionally strong, which is the result of having the program committee develop the conference and focus on the key issues today,” said NAPIM executive director James Coleman.
Next year, the NPIRI Technical Conference will be heading out to west to Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, AZ. The conference will be held Sept. 23-25, which Mr. Coleman noted is off-season, resulting in NAPIM getting excellent room rates. For more information, contact NAPIM at (732) 855-1525 or on the web at www.napim.org.