Market for Energy Curable Inks Is a Bright Spot for Manufacturers

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 11.11.09

There has not been a lot of good news for ink manufacturers in the past few years, as dramatically higher raw material prices, driven by skyrocketing crude oil prices, was quickly followed by a deep global recession that heavily impacted the printing industry.

There are not a lot of end-use markets that have so much as remained flat, not to mention shown growth, during the last year. In particular, the publication market has been ravaged,as newspaper, magazine and catalog publishers have faced the devastating combination of reduced advertising and circulation. As a result, many prominent magazines (Gourmet and Country Home among them) have been discontinued, and a few leading newspapers (Christian Science Monitor, Seattle Post-Intelligencer) have gone to web-only editions.

For printers and ink manufacturers alike, these are difficult times. To gain a perspective of what leading ink manufacturersare seeing, please see my article on “The Publication Ink Market,” beginning on page 20.

As we detailed in our October 2009 issue, the packaging market offers better news. Over the years, packaging has tended to be more recession-proof, as food packaging remains a constant regardless of the economy.

Within the packaging segment, there are specific areas that stand out in terms ofgrowth, and one of the sectors that continues to do well is the energy curable ink market. Ultraviolet (UV) and electron beam (EB) curing enjoyed solid years in 2009, and in “The UV/EB Report,” which begins on page 16, ink industry executives discuss areas of growth, including food packaging and flexible packaging.

For UV and EB, there appears to be even greater opportunities ahead. The increased interest in environmentally friendly technologies is a strong drawing card for energy curing, as the technology offers low VOC content, low emissions and instantaneous drying, thus eliminating the need for ovens and saving energy in the process.

All told, the market for energy curable inks continues to offer promise, which comes as good news in an otherwise challenging time for the printing ink industry.

David Savastano
Ink World Editor