Market Watch

Market Watch


Opportunities for Silver Inks, Future of Flexo and Lithography in PE are Bright

NanoMarkets, an industry analyst firm based in Glen Allen, VA, has issued two white papers. The first examines the market opportunities available for manufacturers of silver powders and inks used in the manufacture of printable electronics. The second paper addresses the future of flexography and lithography as production methods for printing circuits.

How Silver Will Shine

According to NanoMarkets’ report, silver conductive inks will offer sizeable opportunities to materials firms and ink makers over the next decade.

In a recent report the firm projected the value of silver inks sold to the printable electronics (PE) industry by 2014 to be nearly $1.2 billion. The huge expansion NanoMarkets expects in the market for silver inks is going to occur mostly in new applications such as displays, backplanes, RFIDs, etc., where the design requirements are for thin lines, high resolution, good registration between layers and highly consistent ink properties. The firm believes that traditional thick film applications will continue to grow, but by 2014 will contribute only around 20 percent of the entire silver conductive ink market. The firm also believes that the biggest trend is toward inks that use nanoparticulate versions of silver, which offer a wide range of advantages ranging from higher conductivity, through finer lines to less need for thermal processing.

The Future of Flexography And Lithography in PE

This white paper discusses what role NanoMarkets expects flexo and litho to play in the future of PE.

Screen printing and inkjet are the dominant printing technologies but neither represents the future of volume PE manufacturing. Screen cannot achieve the fine features required by many potential PE products, nor can its machines support the volumes that are expected to be required. Inkjet printing is attractive for manufacturing PE because it can create small features, it does not waste expensive conductive inks and it is capable of printing in small quantities, which is good for the R&D environment and for customized electronics. However, inkjetting isn’t capable of producing circuits in large volumes either. As volume requirements ramp up in the PE business, both offset and flexo will account for a growing share of activity once PE moves beyond the R&D phase.

The two white papers are available for free download from NanoMarkets’ web site at

PIA/GATF Reports Printing Industry Profits Increasing

Printing industry profits increased slightly over the past year, back to the rates of the mid- to late-1990s, according to the recently completed 2007 PIA/GATF Ratios Survey.

The average printers’ before-tax profit on sales was 3.4 percent for the typical Ratios participant over this past year, compared to 2.7 percent for 2006. It is also within the 3.0-3.4 percent range from 1995-2001.

Profit leaders, printers in the top 25 percent of profitability, saw profits decrease slightly to 10.1 percent as compared to 10.3 percent in 2006. Despite the small decrease, profit as a percentage of sales for profit leaders remained at the same level it was at in the mid- to late-1990s. In 2007 materials accounted for the largest single cost category for the typical U.S. printer, approximately 35.4 percent of sales.

Other major costs incurred by printers last year included factory payroll (24.95 percent of sales), factory expenses (16.77 percent of sales), administrative expenses (9.57 percent of sales) and selling expenses (8.77 percent of sales). Total materials expenses increased from 35.12 percent of sales in 2006 to 35.44 percent of sales in the 2007 survey.

Specific reports are available for various firm profiles by size of firm, printing process and print market segments. To view a sample Ratios Volume and learn more about the 16 different volumes, visit