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Digital Ink Technologies Remain Strong in Early 2012

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 02.09.12

By all accounts, the digital printing market has enjoyed excellent growth during the past decade. Even during the global recession, inkjet technologies continued to expand, although the rate of growth slowed due to money for investments in new technology being reduced dramatically.

The printing industry will soon turn its attention to drupa, and all indications are that the two-week trade fair will once again see growing interest in digital technologies, with more floor space and attendee interest being devoted to HP, Fujifilm, Electronics for Imaging (EFI), INX International Ink and its INX Digital subsidiary, among other digital ink industry leaders.

Looking over the recent news from the printing ink industry, there continues to be good news on the inkjet front. On the financial end, EFI and Sensient Technologies reported their full-year financial results, and each company had a record year in 2011. While inkjet is not the major portion of their respective businesses, these companies stress innovation and continue to grow their digital offerings.

EFI recently announced its 2011 results, with record sales of $163.1 million for the fourth quarter and year-end sales of $591.6 million, up 17% year-over-year from 2010.

"Our eighth consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth, which reflects records for both our Inkjet and APPS segments, completes a very successful year for EFI on many levels," Guy Gecht, CEO of EFI, reported.

EFI has been active on the acquisition front, buying privately held Cretaprint S.L., a leading developer and supplier of inkjet printers for ceramic tiles, for approximately $31 million in January. The company also launched its EFI VUTEk TX3250r fabric printer for the growing soft signage markets. The VUTEk TX3250r features new, fast drying inks.

"As evidenced by our record revenues, we are benefitting from strong traction in our industrial inkjet segment and are excited about expanding into the ceramic tile market, which represents a tremendous growth opportunity for EFI," said Mr. Gecht of the Cretaprint acquisition.

In the case of Sensient, the company reported record revenue, operating income and earnings per share in 2011. Sales exceeded $1.43 billion, an increase of 7.7% over 2010 revenue of $1.33 billion.
The Color Group, which includes Sensient’s inkjet operations, recorded a record $491.9 million in 2011, an increase of 9.9% over the $447.5 million in 2010. Operating income also achieved record levels of $90.2 million in 2011, up 16.6% from 2010.

“The company performed exceptionally well in 2011,” said Kenneth P. Manning, chairman, president and CEO of Sensient Technologies. “We achieved record revenue and earnings for the second consecutive year, made substantial investments in our operations, reduced debt and increased the dividend to shareholders.”

Sensient continues to be active on the inkjet front. In December, the company announced plans to invest $22 million in the digital ink capabilities and production at its Morges, Switzerland facility. This investment will expand the plant’s production capabilities and add new technology for textiles and other industrial inks, including the ElvaJet ink line. Sensient Imaging Technologies S.A. is showcasing its expanded ElvaJet industrial inkjet ink line at FESPA in Barcelona, Spain.

“We see a significant opportunity to grow our digital inks business and to meet the long-term needs of our customers,” Mr. Manning stated regarding the investment in Morges. “Our investments ensure that we will remain in the forefront of the industry, with cutting-edge technologies and state-of-the-art facilities.”

Bordeaux Digital PrintInk will also be at FESPA 2012, showcasing its newest versions of Bordeaux inkjet ink solutions, including UV and UV LED ink, newly formulated Eco Solvent and Mild Solvent ink, as well as True Solvent inks.

As will be seen at FESPA 2012, drupa 2012 and SGIA 2012 later this year, digital printing continues to expand its horizons, and inkjet ink manufacturers are helping to lead the way forward for these technologies.

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