Innovations Continue to Drive Growth in the Ink Industry

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 10.16.09

It is a basic truth in the business world that innovative products can make or a break a company, and that a business that rests on its laurels for too long becomes stagnant and is usually surpassed by hungrier competitors.

A quick look at the changes that have happened in the ink industry will help make this point. Back in the early 1960s and 1970s, there was work being done with ultraviolet (UV) curing for printing. However, success was not initially within the grasp of ink manufacturers, and the technology languished for a few years.

Today, of course, UV is one of the great success stories in the ink industry. Growth remains in the high single digits, which is a far cry from virtually the rest of the industry’s products. UV has taken a large share of the label and narrow web markets, and is making inroads into sheetfed and mid-web applications as R&D leaders develop new products.

However, the major innovations that are occurring in UV are in the hybrid and UV ink jet segments. Hybrid inks, a combination of conventional and UV inks that can run on conventional presses, have drawn much attention, and ink companies are working hard to meet the interest from their customers. UV ink jet, which would be ideal for the outdoor signage printed by wide format, has seemingly become the hottest area for R&D in recent years. For more information on UV, please see our story beginning on page 49.

Innovation was also an essential aspect of the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers’ (NAPIM) National Printing Ink Research Institute’s (NPIRI) 57th Annual Technical Conference, which was held Oct. 15-16 in Dana Point, CA.

The theme of this year’s conference, which is reviewed beginning on page 53, was “Innovation for a Changing Industry,” with short courses on UV ink jet and prepress, lots of insightful talks on the past, present and future of the ink industry and new looks at emerging technologies. Overall, the conference was excellent, providing attendees with in-depth, thoughtful examinations into the topics that are current today.

Ultimately, companies that are capable of creating innovative products and services that truly bring value to their customers are the ones that will thrive well into the future.
David Savastano
Ink World Editor