34-8 Honcho, Itabashi-ku
Tokyo, Japan 173-0001
Sales: $500 million (¥52,556 million) (consolidated).
Major Products: UV offset, letterpress, flexo, news, waterless and screen inks; sheetfed offset inks; web offset heatset inks; waterless offset inks; gravure and flexo packaging inks; water-based varnishes; metal decorating products; synthetic resins.
Key Personnel: Shigetoshi Nishimori, manager, overseas sales; Hiro Iida, sales representative in charge of America; Hironori Yanagase, sales representative in charge of Europe; Jun Wada, sales representative in charge of synthetic resin; Ryuichi Kurimoto, marketing director; Masanao Kobayashi, technical director.
Number of Employees: 1,600.
Comments: T&K Toka (the T&K in the company’s name stands for Technology and Kindness) is the largest UV ink specialist in the world. Although its overall sales for 2013 don’t reflect the company’s growth due to a change in accounting procedures, T&K Toka continues to grow along with the global UV market, reporting sales of ¥52,556 million ($500 million). Without the accounting change, T&K Toka would have recorded nearly 8% growth.
“Actually, we had a good year in 2013,” said Hiro Iida, sales representative in charge of America for T&K Toka. “Though the competition in the market and the situation in raw materials were so tough for us, we did our best to get higher efficiency and provide higher service and quality. I believe that the market accepts our service and quality, and it led to the good result. Also, the UV market is very active, and it was the biggest key for us to perform well.”
T&K Toka has a major international presence. Hangzhou Toka Ink, T&K Toka’s joint venture in China, is the second-largest ink company in China. The company also has operations in Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and a U.S. distributor, Top Level Ink, in Dallas, TX, as well as distributors in Spain and Brazil.
Raw materials remain a concern for the ink industry.
“Raw material prices keep increasing, and we cannot be optimistic about it for the future either,” Iida said.
“So far, we have been making our best effort to minimize the impact, such as through operating efficiency, negotiations with our suppliers, consideration of formulation sand so on. However, it is difficult to absorb these raw material price increases by our own effort, so we have announced our own price increases recently.”
Product development is a hallmark of T&K Toka, and the company has been developing state-of-the-art systems, such as H-UV inks for Komori’s presses.
“H-UV from Komori Corporation is becoming very popular in the U.S.,” Iida said. “I think that the many printers have understood this well and accepted the strong points of H-UV, such as energy savings, easy to install, cost savings, green etc. So, as a top UV ink manufacturer, we have a UV ink for the H-UV system whose quality and price are suitable for the U.S. market.”
In an important move, T&K Toka is expanding its efforts in UV flexo for the narrow web marketplace,
“So far, our main field is the offset market, but we have developed our new UV flexo ink,” Iida said. “We see that the narrow web market is as big as the offset market, and changing to UV is the trend in the narrow web market, too, so we developed an appropriate ink, quality and price for this market.
“Other than ink, we manufacture the synthetic resins for flexo/gravure ink, hot melt, epoxy curing agents, etc.,” he added. “We are going into this new segment with the know-how from ink production.”
Inkjet printing is also making significant gains, and T&K Toka is using its expertise to develop inks for digital printing as well.
“The digital market is progressing rapidly,” Iida noted. “I guess the volume is still much smaller than present print media, but the digital market has already become one of the core markets for the printing industry, so we developed a new UV inkjet ink (for both regular UV and UV LED) for the market.”
Ultimately, T&K Toka’s expertise in UV inks is the key to the company’s success.
“The UV market is very active,” Iida said. “In the UV market, the packaging area is very active, and it is a great opportunity for us to share our high-end product with the market. As always, our UV ink is manufactured under the policy of T&K (Technology & Kindness), as shown in our company’s name, and we consider the printer’s convenience first always.”