ColorGen Sets its Sights on the Fast-Growing UV Ink Market
By David Savastano
The market for UV inks and coatings is one of the strongest growth areas for the printing ink industry. As interest in energy curing grows among printers and their customers, UV ink manufacturers are developing the products and services their customers need to succeed.
Even though the global recession is a difficult time to open a new business, a company that has a strong focus on product development and customer service can move ahead, particularly in a field such as UV. This is just the recipe that ColorGen Limited, a Suffolk, UK-based manufacturer of high quality UV curing ink systems for the packaging industry, is using to make its mark in the energy curable ink market.
ColorGen was founded in 2008 by a group of industry veterans, including chairman and director Alex Stevenson, managing director Mark Bowman, operations manager Kevin Green, sales manager Tony Martin and technical manager Clive Surridge, all of whom came out of Intercolor, another UK-based UV specialist that is owned by Zeller+Gmelin (ZG). While its beginnings, coming during the recession, were challenging, the company is now doing very well, selling 40 tons of ink per month.
“ColorGen has recovered from a ‘rocky’ birth after the split from Intercolor and ZG, and is now established as a reliable UK producer of UV flexo and letterpress Inks for the narrow web industry,” Mr. Stevenson said.
ColorGen’s leaders believe that true expertise is best achieved by drawing together the experience of specialist personnel, and as with most progressive organizations, the company regards its people as its key asset. Its managers and technicians have a long history of working closely with the packaging industry to meet it quality and service needs.
While ColorGen’s primary focus is on the packaging industry, the company is also looking into newer technologies.
“ColorGen continues to focus purely on UV packaging for the narrow web market, but as part of my role we are actively investigating other possibilities,” Mr. Stevenson said. “One field where I can definitely see growth coming is in the field of digital UV printing, which will benefit from the boost which will come when LED curing technology matures.
“I see a real future for this technology, and intend to get involved,” Mr. Stevenson added. “I well remember trying unsuccessfully to push my previous companies into this direction back in 2001 at Labelexpo Chicago – no luck then, maybe I was just a little bit premature. Similarly with in-line printable RFID solutions – I reckon we jumped about 10 years too soon, and sadly weren’t able to stay on that bandwagon. We also offer security inks, and have had some limited success with various bespoke devices, but again are not yet mainstream with this part of our business.”
Through the company’s association with Ashland Coatings, it is also a mainline supplier of speciality UV coatings and adhesives for the food industry.
The export market is another area for potential growth for ColorGen. “As the recession continues to abate, we plan to enter the export field, where I have established a demand for our products in several interesting regions,” Mr. Stevenson said. “We are not actively exporting at the moment, due to the fragility of the various economies, but we are seeing signs that this position is definitely improving.”
Outside of ColorGen, Mr. Stevenson remains active in the industry; he has been appointed a board member of the British Coatings Federation, and has also joined the BCF section of the Proskills Board, charged with steering the training and recruitment requirements of the coatings industry, in his case printing inks. Mr Stevenson clearly relishes the challenge of mentoring a new ink company.
“I am very much the old boy in the background available for consultation and advice,” Mr. Stevenson said. “I reach 65 next year and feel physically and mentally great – retirement is not in my plan just yet.”