There were mixed expectations going into the 44th National Printing Ink Research Institute’s (NPIRI) Technical Conference Program, held October 17 to 19 at Callaway Gardens, GA.
While the conference was expected to have a better turnout than last year’s gathering, which was delayed due to Hurricane Floyd, NPIRI was competing head-to-head with the International Coating Expo’s (ICE) show in Chicago, IL.
In order to draw more attendees, particularly from ink companies, National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers’ (NAPIM) executive director James Coleman, NPIRI conference co-chairs Paul Lodewyck of Progressive Ink and Dr. Joe Raksis, senior vice president, research and new product development at Flint Ink, and other industry leaders put together an ambitious conference, with two new short courses, a renewed emphasis on poster boards, and lots of timely topics. NAPIM officials and attendees alike agreed that the conference delivered on its promises.
The opening day of the technical conference featured two concurrent short courses, which provided in-depth information on two key aspects of the industry. Peter Weissman and Dr. JoAnn Arceneaux, of UCB Chemical, and Dr. Eugene Sitzmann and Walt Taplin of Ciba conducted the first, “The Basics of UV/EB Curable Inks.” The session focused on formulating energy curable inks and coatings, and discussed the advantages of these systems.
The second short course, delivered by Dr. Mike Wider of Flint Ink, was “Digital Printing Technologies for the Communications Era.” Dr. Wider focused on ink jet and electrophotography as two growing markets where there are opportunities for ink companies.
“It’s a new market, and while it really hasn’t taken anything away from conventional inks, I think it will intrude on conventional print,” said Dr. Wider of digital printing. “The real commercial opportunity is between $300 million and $500 million. The opportunity is there.”
After Mr. Lodewyck welcomed attendees, Victor Lewis of Printers’ Service began the opening session by discussing “Recent Developments in Fountain Solutions.”
Les Watkins of Flint Ink then presented the “Drupa Update,” in which he spoke of the highs and lows of Drupa. ‘To me, the theme was ‘Digital Comes of Age,” Mr. Watkins said. “The most pervasive technology was DI, as 18 companies shared platforms with Presstek’s DI. In a clash of the titans, we’re starting to see Heidelberg vs. Xerox in both litho and digital, and nothing says we are finished developing new ink products.” As for low points, Mr. Watkins mentioned the “Drupa Song,” which brought back memories of the cloying theme song that blared throughout Drupa.
After Mr. Watkins’ talk, the top two papers in the NPIRI Lecture Competition, sponsored by Lawter International, were presented.
The second-place winner was “Mechanism of Mist Generation in Energy Curable Inks,” by Jean Dominique Turgis of Sun Chemical.
The first place finisher, “Self-crosslinking Acrylic Dispersions Outperform Conventional Solventborne Liquid Inks,” was then given by Dr. Dirk Mestach of Akzo Nobel Resins.
“Safety, health and environmental issues continue to drive the trend to lower volatile organic compounds in printing inks,” Dr. Mestach said. “Stable self-crosslinking printing ink compositions have been developed which meet the requirements of long-term storage stability and development of film properties for flexographic printing and overprint varnishes.”
After Dr. Mestach’s talk, conference attendees walked among the tabletop exhibits and enjoyed a southern dinner at the beach pavilion.
Thursday, Oct. 19 opened with two concurrent sessions, one covering paste inks, the other session on fluid inks. On the paste side, Diane Parisi of Flint Ink served as moderator for five talks and a panel discussion.
The talks included Dr. Ramasamy Krishnan, chief scientist for Sun Chemical, whose “Water-Based Water Washable Offset Ink Systems” received third place in the NPIRI competition. Dr. Krishnan described the challenges that were faced in developing a water-based, water washable offset ink that can be used on existing offset units, including the altering of surface energy on the image area.
Dr. Krishnan was followed by Byron Hahn of Braden Sutphin Printing Ink, who spoke about “Ink Emulsification.” A panel discussion on “Dispensing Systems for Sheetfed Offset Presses – Cost Alternatives” was next, featuring Mike Raio of Superior Printing Ink, John Dowey of Heidelberg USA, Chris Ludwig of Air Flow Spray Equipment, Greg Nyberg of Accel Graphic Systems, and Bruce Potter of Ink Systems
“A Study in Resin & Vehicle Solubility Using Cloud Points,” presented by Bob Cook and Dan DeLegge of Lawter International, discussed this method of testing, which reduces testing time and offers less testing variation. “Impact of the Flushing Vehicle Resin on Flushing and Ink Properties,” by Lidia Calcaterra Barger, Handschy Industries, looked at the performance of a variety of resins in flushing vehicles and the impact of these in sheetfed inks.
Finally on the paste ink side, Ken Lowden of DuPont Color Proofing presented his paper on “ Pre-Press Proofing Systems – A Challenge to the Ink Industry,” which discussed the need for color standards and the importance of proofing to quality control.
On the fluid ink side, Rich Bradley, of Carroll Scientific served as moderator for the talks, which began with “Polyethylenimine, The Chemical Chameleon,” a discussion of the binding properties of these water-soluble polymers presented by Charles Zullig of BASF.
Next, Lisa Hahn of Flexo Tech gave a presentation on “The Effect of Polymers and Additives on Water-Based Ink Rheology,” which discussed variables and the effect they have on ink rheology. “The Effect of Chambered Doctor Blades & Anilox Rolls on Defoamer Testing and Selection” was presented by Curtis Downs of Ultra Additives.
James Full of Rohm & Haas then spoke on the topic of “Laminating Adhesive and Ink Interactions,” and Karen Chu of the Environmental Protection Agency discussed the Design for the Environment report. “There are preferable systems,” Ms. Chu said. “There is no clear winning system, but some water-based and UV formulations had superior environmental, health and safety profiles.”
Dr. John Schmidhauser of Atofina closed the session with “A New pH Neutral Waterborne Dispersing Resin for Metallic and Organic Pigments.”
Two years ago, NPIRI introduced poster boards to its technical conference. This year, with the sponsorship of Carroll Scientific, the poster boards flourished, as 15 companies participated.
These included the following:
• “Surface Modified Pigments and Their Applicability For Digital Printing” – Cabot Corporation.
• “The Effect of Monomer Structure on Color Development of UV Curable Inks” – Cognis.
• “Solubility and Viscosity Behavior of Polyamide Resins” – Cognis.
• “Carbon Black Interaction with Acrylic Resins” – Columbian Chemicals.
• “Development of Novel Styrene Butadiene Latex for Water Based Inks” – Dow Chemical.
• “The Effect of Polymers and Additives on Water-Based Ink Rheology” – Flexo Tech.
• “An Analysis of Ink Jet Ink and Untreated Vinyl Interactions” – Flint Ink.
• “Influence of Polymer Structure on Dry Time and Resolubility of Inks” – Johnson Polymer.
• “Waterborne Polymer for Surface Printing Inks” – Lawter International.
• “Quality Control for Paste Ink Vehicles Using a Rotational Viscometer” – Kustom Group.
• “High Shear Water Pickup Testing of Inks – Close to Reality” – Novocontrol.
• “Alternative Systems for Solvent Based Publication Gravure” – Sun Chemical.
• “UV Lithographic Inks – A Correlation of Emulsification Properties” – UCB Chemicals.
• “Theoretical Approach to Formulation of Hot Melt Ink for Rotogravure” – Western Michigan University.
• “Opacifiers & Their Properties” – Westvaco.
Carroll Scientific presented $400 honorariums to three poster boards judged as being the best by a panel. These awards went to Cabot Corporation, Flint Ink and Johnson Polymer.
“The poster boards went very well, and thanks to our friends at Carroll Scientific, it’s helped to make it a more important program,” Mr. Lodewyck said.
For Flexo Tech president Lisa Hahn, the poster boards provided an opportunity to discuss ongoing work with an interested audience. “We’ve had a very positive reaction to the poster boards, which have led to stimulating conversations and challenges,” Ms. Hahn said.
After a free afternoon spent by many attendees golfing or walking through the gardens, attendees gathered for the reception and awards banquet. Ron Barry, chairman and CEO of Color Converting Industries and NAPIM’s recipient of the 2000 Ault Award, the most prestigious award in the industry, first talked about the importance of research and development in the ink industry.
“There is no question that technology is the backbone of our industry, but I have a concern that our industry has not put enough emphasis on it,” Mr. Barry said. “The challenge is to frame the value we provide so that our customers understand it is in their best interest. When you do accomplish this, our suppliers are winners, our ink companies are winners, and our customers are winners. There’s an opportunity for us to reinvent the role that we play.”
Stanley Field, technical service manager, national accounts for Flint Ink, was the next speaker. Mr. Field, the 1999 Award for Technical Achievement recipient, emphasized the importance of training. “Training often takes a back seat to anything that makes money,” Mr. Field said. “We can’t afford not to spend money on training.”
Michael S. Murphy, senior vice president and general manager, ink operations for Sun Chemical and NAPIM president, then presented the Technical Associate Member (TAM) Service Award to W. Richard Hoster, president of Magie Bros. Oil Company, who was grateful to all the people he has worked with over the years.
Next, Mr. Murphy presented the Award for Technical Achievement to Walter Zawacki, technical manager of color and printing research at Flint Ink, for his years of service and leadership in developing color standards and much more.
“This is a great honor, and there’s too many people to thank,” said Mr. Zawacki.
The closing session, moderated by Ms. Hahn, was held Friday morning. “Color Standards for Paste Inks” was delivered by Mr. Zawacki, winner of the Technical Achievement Award. He discussed the importance of ISO 2846 standards for sheetfed, heatset and coldset process color inks.
Mr. Zawacki was then followed by Karl Guyler of Hallmark, who discussed “Visualization of Expanded Printing Gamuts Using 3-Dimensional Convex Hulls.”
Dr. Paul Gupta of Flint Ink then discussed “High Speed UV Offset Printing.”
Dr. Gupta talked about the faster press speeds, in which UV offset is expected to run at more than 1,500 feet per minute and sheetfed at 15,000 impressions per hour. . “As you speed up, the ink receives less energy and doesn’t cure as well,” Dr. Gupta said, adding that despite the limitations, improvements are being made by ink manufacturers and suppliers to eliminate the problems. “We are very close to printing at high speeds,” Dr. Gupta concluded.
“Bronzing of Prints: A Study by the NPIRI Color Measurement Task Force,” was presented by Robert Bassemir of Sun Chemical. Mr. Bassemir discussed the ongoing research on the topic, and some conclusions that have been drawn
The technical conference closed with Taro Watanabe of Toyo Ink, whose topic was “Elcorsy Technology.” Mr. Watanabe talked about the growth of Elcography and electrocoagulation, Elcorsy’s new digital printing process, in which the ink reacts to a pulsing electric current. Toyo Ink is a partner with Elcorsy, and Mr. Watanabe foresees it becoming a major technology in the future.
“We call it computer to ink, not computer to plate,” Mr. Watanabe said of this plateless technology which can print either a 64-page tabloid newspaper or a 250-page book in five seconds. “We hope to start testing it in the market soon.” He anticipates that Elcograpy could be used in zoned newspapers, direct mail, business forms, books, wallpaper and packaging.
While the number of attendees was not as high as it may have been due to the ICE Show running during the same dates in Chicago, industry leaders were pleased by the turnout, particularly with the fact that nearly a quarter of the more than 275 attendees came from ink companies, a higher percentage than usual. NAPIM leaders attributed the increase to the improved range of timely programs.
“We are very pleased with the number of members from ink companies that were there,” said Mr. Coleman. “It seems that our increased range of programs are bringing in a growing number of ink company representatives.”
“I’m very impressed by the quality and quantity that we are displaying,” said Mr. Murphy.
“I think this is the best conference I have ever been to at NPIRI,” said Bill Tasker, executive vice president, product and manufacturing technology at INX International and NPIRI president.
“I think it went very well,” added Mr. Lodewyck. “We knew the papers had good content, and I’ve been very impressed by the quality of the presentations. I think that the short courses were very successful. The level of technology that was presented shows the way the industry needs to move forward.” The moderators were all pleased with the speakers and the quality of work that they presented.
“I think it went very well,” said Ms. Parisi, who is technical director, paste ink laboratory for Flint Ink. “The speakers did a great job, and their topics were timely and of interest to the audience.”
“I think this session was really excellent,” said Ms. Hahn. “”We were trying to make the last sessions more interesting, and we have a good selection of papers.”
“Overall, the quality of the presentations have improved dramatically,” noted Rich Bradley, vice president of R&D at Carroll Scientific, who moderated the liquid ink session. “You have to give credit to Jim Coleman, NAPIM and the NPIRI board for that. The overall quality of presentations was very good and of great interest to the industry, and we’ve moved away from commercialism.”
Dr. Raksis concluded the conference by noting that the 2001 NPIRI Technical Conference will be held October 17-19 at the Marriott Mountain Shadow Resort and Golf Club, Scottsdale, AZ.
“I think the quality and attendance have been good, and the two short courses and the poster boards have been great,” said Dr. Raksis. “There’s still room for it to be better, and I’m looking forward to next year in Arizona.”