For many years, ink jet has been looked at longingly by printing ink manufacturers, who saw it as the wave of the future and also an opportunity to improve profitability. However, the vast majority of the ink jet ink business is tied up in the SOHO market, where OEMs have held a virtual monopoly on the sale of ink cartridges to desktop printers.
That did not deter major ink manufacturers and small entrepreneurs alike from trying to break into the market. It looks like the hard work is finally paying off as ink jet technology moves into new fields where the ability to create shorter runs and utilize variable data are sought by customers.
In particular, the growth of ink jet into the wide format printing, offers great opportunities for ink companies. Already, Sun Chemical’s SunJet, Flint Ink, Sericol, Nazdar and Graphic Sciences, among others, have made headway into these fields, while companies solely dedicated to the ink jet market such as American Ink Jet, Squid Ink and Collins Ink continue to synthesize innovative products.
These companies are utilizing their manufacturing experience to develop inks that can be used in the outdoor market. In particular, UV and pigmented ink jet inks are becoming more prominent, which plays to the strength of ink companies. With its ability to dry practically instantaneously, improved resistance properties and no solvent emissions, UV offers some critical benefits. When the advantages of UV are combined with ink jet, there is no telling where ink jet will go next.
The corrugated and textile markets are also areas for potential growth. BCM Inks USA is one company that is active in the corrugated digital ink field, and some of the products that are being printed by ink jet are extremely impressive. In textiles, ink jet technology is making gains in areas such as samples and short runs, where the high costs of set up can be eliminated.
In “The Ink Jet Ink Market,” starting on page 26,U.S. ink companies discuss those opportunities in detail, while European ink manufacturers are the focus of Sean Milmo’s article, “Opportunities are Springing Up in the Ink Jet Ink Market,” beginning on page 20. In both articles, the ink industry is looking at potential developments with great optimism.
The ink jet ink market offers remarkable possibilities, and new applications are being explored daily. For ink companies, the ability to use their expertise to provide solutions is an opportunity that that has practically limitless potential.