NPIRI Conference Review

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 09.09.05

Increased attendance indicates that program improvements over the years have made the NPIRI Technical Conference a much more essential program, and this year�s conference offered more value to its attendees.

"Redesigning Our Future,” the theme of this year’s National Printing Ink Research Institute (NPIRI) Technical Conference, focused on new technologies and the future.

In another sense, the theme of this year’s conference, held by the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) on Oct. 2-4 in Marco Island, FL, could also be taken as symbolic of the redesign that has occurred to the conference itself during the past few years. The additions of the short courses and poster boards, combined with a greater emphasis on presentations offering scientific merit, has helped to add value for the attendees. Conference chair Robert Peters of Kohl & Madden Printing Ink and co-chair Diane Parisi of Flint Ink Corporation, along with the moderators and NPIRI committee members, put together a program that succeeded on all of these fronts. More than 240 people attended the conference, a significant increase from the past two years, and all indications are that the attendees came away pleased with the conference.

NPIRI officials once again worked to develop a greater array of talks and informative opportunities for attendees, beginning with the two short courses that opened the conference. Jeff Gilbert, director, process improvement, publication division at Flint Ink, discussed “An Overview of Six Sigma,” while “Energy Curable Update – Equipment and Consumables” featured talks by Jim Crawford, Fuji Photo Film USA; Victor Lewis, Printers’ Service; Larry Lowe, Bottchier America; and Richard Stowe, Fusion UV Systems.

The subject of Six Sigma was particularly topical, as Sun Chemical. Flint Ink, INX International and other companies are presently working on their own projects. Mr. Gilbert discussed its history, its goals and opportunities, both in manufacturing and in areas such as accounts receivable and inventory.

Joining Flexo Tech’s Lisa Hahn’s to celebrate her receiving NPIRI’s Technical Achievement Award are, from left, past award winners Sal Moscuzza of Superior Printing Ink, Joe Cichon of INX International, Robert Peters of Kohl & Madden, Robert Bassemir of Sun Chemical and Byron Hahn of Braden Sutphin Printing Ink.
“Six Sigma isn’t the answer to everything, but it has its place,” Mr. Gilbert said. “Its best use is on chronic problems that you haven’t been able to fix in the past. You’ll win in the marketplace, because your customer will know.”

After lunch, the conference resumed with its opening session, moderated by Tony Cieri of Sun Chemical Inks GPI. It included a NPIRI first – a keynote speaker. In this case, Dr. Ronnie Davis, chief economist for Printing Industries of America (PIA), gave an overview of the printing industry’s present and future state in “Strategies for Success in a Mature Industry.”

“The news has not been good for print markets, as advertising really declined in 2001, and print’s recovery is at a slower pace than the economy’s” Dr. Davis said. He added that PIA anticipates 2 percent to 3 percent growth for the printing i
ndustry in the coming year.

Dr. Davis also noted that print is becoming a mature industry. In the past year, the number of employees has been reduced by 60,000 to 1.1 million. In 1993, there were 54,000 printing plants; in 2001, there were 45,000 facilities. Ten years from now, that number could be 30,000.

“This is a changing, competitive landscape, and ink suppliers have to understand who buys their product,” Dr. Davis said, adding, “I still see opportunities.”

After Dr. Davis, Flint Ink’s Mr. Gilbert discussed “Repeatability and Reproducibility Related to R&D;” Mary Steermann, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, gave the “Print Buyer’s Perspective;” and Matthew Perry of Chemidex discussed “Searching the Internet.” The afternoon closed with nearly 40 tabletop exhibits and a dinner.

Thursday morning featured concurrent paste and liquid ink sessions.

The paste ink session, moderated by Greg Webb of MeadWestvaco, featured “Ink Mist: Monitoring Concentration and Particle Size” by Jay Hilsenbeck of GATF; “Printing Research/Resource Centers’ Update” by Dale Drake of Fox Valley Technical College, John Lind of GATF and Bill Garno of Rochester Institute of Technology; “Alternatives to Four Color Process” by Steve Simpson of Superior Printing Ink; “An Overview of Paper Industry Trends and Coated Paper Product Designs” by C. David Niles, Sappi Fine Paper; and “Stochastic Screening – Computer to Plate” by John Gaspari, Quebecor World.

Nasry Rizk, right, of Carroll Scientific presented the three Poster Session Competition honorariums to Bonnie Bedolla of Flint Ink, Paul Williams of Arizona Chemical and Martin Schick of Eastman Resins.
George Willock, right, is congratulated by past TAM Award honoree Rucker Wickline of CDR Pigments & Dispersions.
The fluid ink session, moderated by Mathew Mathew of Sun Chemical Ink (GPI), began with “Neutral pH Products for Better Performance” by George Beetz, Rohm & Haas; “New Tin-free, Aliphatic Polyurethane Laminating Ink Resin” by Doug Rhubright of Cognis; “Solventless Adhesives Laminating” by Dr. Grant Kenion, Liofol-A Henkel Company; “Flexo and Gravure – An Update on Technology” by Hans Deamer, Windmoeller & Hoelscher; “Gravure Myths – Prepress and Short Runs are Expensive” by Richard Dunnington, Gravure Association of America; and “Polyester Film: Surface Modifications and Ink Interaction” Dr. M.S. (Lala) Nerurkar, SKC, Inc.

The session leaders were also happy with the quality of the presentations.

“I hope the session provided information to the attendees that can be used in developing new raw materials or inks, new pigments or ways to print an extended color gamut, better substrates or coating for paper and/or new ideas for printing processes,” Mr. Webb said.

“Everyone had a positive response to the short courses,” said Ms. Hahn, who coordinated the short courses.

“I think there were some excellent presentations,” Mr. Mathew added.

During a recess, the poster board session was held, which proved to be a highlight of the conference. There were 14 poster boards presented overall, many of which were exceptional.

“This is a good opportunity for people who have done work in a narrow area to exhibit and get some feedback,” said Bonnie Bedolla of Flint Ink, whose poster board, “Improving Properties of UV Flexo Inks with Use of Nitrogen Inerting,” was one of the winners in the Carroll Scientific poster session competition.

Ms. Bedolla shared the honors with Arizona Chemical’s David Buxton, Tom Fontana and Paul Williams for “Ester Terminated Polyamides, an Alternative to Standard Aluminum Gelling Agents for Lithographic Inks,” and Hieu Phan and Martin Schick of Eastman Chemical for their “High Performance Waterborne Polymer.”

After the sessions, attendees had the afternoon off to play in the NPIRI golf tournament, tour the Everglades or relax for the rest of the day prior to the awards reception and dinner.

The Friday morning closing session, moderated by Mr. Peters, led off with “Special Effect Pigment for Liquid and UV Inks” by Dr. Klaus-Christian Ullmann, Merck KgaA; “Print Mottle Quantification: Theory and Applications” by Gary Wood of TCE Limited; and “New Approach to Coloring UV Flexo and Screen Inks” by David Dugan of Clariant.

The conference then closed with the two papers which were honored in the NPIRI Lecture Competition, sponsored by Eastman Resins. The first was “The Use of Thermal Analysis on Lithographic Resins for Product Development and Quality Control” by Richard Houser and Craig Melchor of MeadWestvaco, which earned second place. The conference ended with the first-place lecture, “Gloss Dry-Back from Wet-Trap Printing with Aqueous Coatings,” by Stephen A. Fischer, Theresa Ruehle, H. Tom Mills, Sunil Jayasuriya and Paul Gloor of Johnson Polymer.

Awards Banquet
One of the traditional highlights of the NPIRI Conference is the awards reception and dinner, and this year’s was no exception. Cal Sutphin, president of Braden Sutphin Printing Ink and this year’s winner of the Ault Award, the most prestigious honor in the industry, first addressed the audience on his experiences in the industry, the importance of integrity and caring, and closed with an emotional poem, “A Child of God.”

Next, George Willock, vice president of sales, Neville Chemical, received the NPIRI Technical Associate Member Service Award for all of his efforts on behalf of the printing ink industry.

“I’m very pleased, very proud and quite surprised,” said Mr. Willock. “This is a wonderful award.”
Lisa Hahn, president of Flexo Tech, was then presented with the Technical Achievement Award. “I am thrilled and so honored,” Ms. Hahn said. “Thank you so much.”

NPIRI leaders were understandably pleased with the increased turnout and the quality of the conference.

“The conference went very well,” said James Coleman, NAPIM’s executive director. “Some of the things we tried were received very well, such as moving the NPIRI lecture papers to the last day. We were certainly pleased with the attendance, which was up from last year. The short courses have become a highlight for us, because it gives the attendees the opportunity to focus on a subject, and I think the numbers and quality of the poster boards has improved dramatically.”

On hand for Flint Ink and CDR Pigments & Dispersions were, back from left, Suresh Mani, Dr. Joseph Raksis, Duke Thompson, Jim Garner, Mike Blystra, and Rucker Wickline; and in front, from left, Kathy Marx, Ed Bianchina, Bonnie Bedolla, Ron Gallas, Diane Parisi and Andrew Matthews.
“We have more than 240 attendees, which, in this economy, says a lot about how people feel about the importance of our technical conference,” said Mr. Cieri. “I think the speakers did a really great job.”

“I want to thank everyone who put this together,” said Mr. Peters. “We had some great presentations, and the information they gave was timely and forward looking. We had better attendance than we anticipated, which is due to the high quality of the program.”

“We had a real good turnout. I was really pleased with how many people sent in poster boards and next year will be even better.” said Ms. Parisi, who is the chair for next year’s conference, which will be held Oct. 15-17 at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott, Dana Point, CA.

If Ms. Parisi and her colleagues can continue to make improvements in NPIRI’s offerings, that conference could exceed the strides in attendance and value made this year.

Scenes from NPIRI
Stephen Fischer of Johnson Polymer accepts the honorarium for first place in the NPIRI Lecture Competition, sponsored by Eastman Resins, from Jack Baarends of Eastman Resins. On hand after the awards reception and dinner are, from left, Cal and Sandy Sutphin of Braden Sutphin, conference chair Bob and Peggy Peters of Kohl & Madden and NAPIM executive director James and Sue Coleman.
William T. Rimel, third from left, of American Inks & Coatings and NAPIM’s president, meets with fluid ink session presenters, from left, Doug Rhubright of Cognis, Richard Dunnington of GAA, Dr. M.S. (Lala) Nerurkar of SKC, Inc., moderator Mathew Mathew of Sun Chemical Ink (GPI) and Dr. Grant Kenion of Liofol-A Henkel Company. The paste ink session was led by, from left, John Lind of GATF; Jay Hilsenback of GATF, Bill Garno of RIT, moderator Greg Webb of MeadWestvaco, Steve Simpson of Superior Printing Ink, and Dick Drake of Fox Valley Technical College.