While these challenges made for difficult times in the past year, it does appear that the economy is on a slight upswing, which is generating some optimism going into 2010.
The Impact of
The Global Recession
Very few industries came through the recession unscathed, and manufacturers of waxes and additives were no exception. Still, there does seem to be some improvement in the market.
Rich Bradley, global marketing manager, Lubrizol Advanced Materials, Inc., Graphic Arts Group, said that 2009 was a universally difficult time in the industry in general, with a weak first half and modest recovery into the second half of the year.
“Most printing segments were affected, and that trickles down to the ink supply side of the business,” Mr. Bradley added.
“The waxes and additives business was severely hampered by the global recession of 2009,” said Ed Schneider, vice president, communications for Shamrock Technologies. “The industry was down by more than 35 percent in the first half of the year. It has rallied in the second half, but will not likely rebound as high as 2008 year-end levels.”
Patrick Heraty, Jr., market segment manager, graphic arts at Evonik/Tego, also noted that 2009 has been a challenging year.
“With worldwide production down, it has been difficult to meet our goals,” Mr. Heraty said. “At the same time, we have seen significant projects underway and thus opportunities to help our customers.”
“The additive industry started off very slowly into 2009, and a lot of changes could be seen in the marketplace,” added Andrea Napalowski, marketing manager NAFTA, Evonik/Tego. “Being closer to the consumers, our customers were affected first and had to find ways to shave off overall operation costs to steer through the economic crisis. As a business partner and solution provider to the industry, Evonik/Tego additives’ business was affected by the economic situation as well. However, in the last couple of months, we are experiencing an uptick in demand that put more focus on the overall supply chain. Evonik/Tego has met the challenge; with inventories low throughout the industry, a well organized supply chain management is key.”
“The additives industry saw a performance that paralleled the ink industry in general, where for the first half of the year business was down some 20 percent from 2008, but we saw recovery start in the summer and continue to improve so that business is down 10 percent or so in the third quarter,” said Christopher Henkee, Americas marketing manager, specialty additives for Air Products.
“U.S. ink markets in general were down significantly in 2009,” said Alan Kalmikoff, president of Keim Additec Surface USA LLC. “Oil-based ink products sustained greater reductions in commercial and publication printing than in packaging. Water and solvent flexo and gravure inks took a similar or slightly less hit in the first half of 2009, based on inventory reductions and lower consumption. The second half of the year seems to be coming back quite a bit.”
The Cost of Raw Materials
With sales sliding, the last thing anyone needed was higher material costs, but costs have been rising.
“We saw some stabilization through the end of last year and into the first quarter, but petroleum-based materials have started to creep up since then,” Mr. Bradley said.
“Despite the downturn, the cost situation in our industry was stable and was even slightly increasing towards the end of the year,” said Ms. Napalowski.
Mr. Schneider noted that material prices continued to rise in the first half of the year. “By the middle of the year, prices had stabilized except for shortages of PE and FT waxes in general,” he added.
“Cost-wise, specialty chemicals have not tracked in parallel to commodity materials,” Mr. Kalmikoff said. “Imported products are seeing a double whammy from weak U.S. currency and recently announced increased freight costs due to lower volumes and increased fuel costs.”
Mr. Henke noted that the recession also led to decreased demand as well as consolidation and plant closures, which also impacted pricing.
“Surprisingly, as many specialty additives raw materials are not derived from petrochemical feedstock commodities, prices of the raw materials have actually increased throughout the year and continue to rise,” Mr. Henkee said. “This counter-intuitive outcome results from the fact that the recession caused lower demand for many commodities, which in turn resulted in many manufacturers closing down or curtailing production of non-commodity derivatives. This reduction of market availability and consolidation of producers for these products has resulted in price increases throughout the year. Looking into the future, we remain concerned about the availability of raw materials and expect that our costs may continue to rise.”
When it comes to waxes and additives, ink manufacturers continue to seek improved performance as well as “green” technologies.
“The ink manufacturers continued to seek greater gains in rub and mar resistance in 2009, but the economic downturn put even greater pressure on suppliers to deliver these advancements with even lower cost products,” Mr. Schneider said.
“Water-based ink makers are always looking for more efficient and effective additive technologies to create value or reduce costs or both,” Mr. Kalmikoff said. “Several polymer supplier changes have taken up some of the time away from looking at other new programs. There are also less folks doing technical work due to the present economic conditions.”
“Performance and cost-effectiveness are the key characteristics our customers desire,” Mr. Heraty said. “Ink manufacturers continue to seek the products that help their inks deliver superior properties. They need additives that help meet and exceed their customers’ expectations.”
“Printers and ink makers are looking for systems that provide improved reliability and runnability with a focus on sustainability,” Mr. Bradley said. “With the economic pressures we all face as we work on solutions for new problems, there is an overriding and significant emphasis on cost reduction and control.”
Ms. Napalowski said that environmental aspects are a key focus.
“More and more consumers are seeking ‘green’ alternatives and forward thinking companies have adopted ‘green’ strategies,” Ms. Napalowski said. “Evonik/Tego’s philosophy is to offer a broad product range tailored for waterborne or UV ink formulations, although we carry additives for solventborne applications, too. In this respect, our portfolio offers additives that meet requirements like low VOC, low to no odor, APE-free and formaldehyde-free.”
“In terms of general product development, ink formulators continue to seek more efficient and lower cost-in-use additives,” Mr. Henkee said. “In terms of developing the next generation of products, our customers are asking for green or sustainable products, whether that is products with lower VOC or products derived from natural sources.”
Even as the economy seems to be improving, there are challenges ahead for manufacturers. Mr. Bradley said that the most difficult challenge facing the industry is finding a way to look past all of the cost pressure and focus on finding high value opportunities to grow their businesses.
“At Lubrizol, we are working hard to apply our resources in areas where we can make this happen,” he added.
“The most difficult challenges in the ink industry continue to be economically driven,” Mr. Schneider noted. “One of the ways that Shamrock Technologies is addressing these challenges is by placing an increased emphasis on the development of higher value additives.”
“For the additive markets, the most challenging situation is the increasing raw material costs, while realizing that our customers are under enormous pressure to contain costs and deliver a quality product,” Mr. Henkee noted. “In order to do this, many of our customers have scaled back some of their own developmental programs. In response Air Products has continued to invest in technical service and product development to provide the assistance our customers need in solving technical problems. We also have continued to develop new and innovative products such as the Carbowet line of pigment wetting and stabilization additives, which provide cost effective wetting with an APE-, HAP-, and solvent-free alternative.”
Mr. Heraty said that regulatory issues are a major challenge.
“The ever-changing legislative landscape is one of our greatest challenges,” Mr. Hearty said. “Differences in regulation between Europe and NAFTA make it exceptionally difficult to serve our global customers. Evonik/Tego has responded by developing products targeted to meet the most stringent global requirements. We have also dedicated staff to provide our customers with the regulatory information they require, such as questions about REACH.”
The Coming Year
With signs that the printing ink industry is starting to rebound, suppliers of waxes and additives are looking ahead to the upcoming year.
“Shamrock is guardedly optimistic about 2010, but not bullish,” Mr. Schneider said. “We would hope to see sales rebound to 2007 and 2008, but we believe margins will likely be lower.”
“Our expectation for the coming year is for the ink industry to continue to recover,” Mr. Henkee said. “In speaking with our customers, we expect them to again invest in new and improved products and explore new markets as the economy stabilizes and then starts to grow. In anticipation of this, our own product development teams have begun working on this feedback from our customers.”
“We hope to see the economy continue to grow stronger and see this reflected in the activity at our customers,” Mr. Heraty said. “As the economy strengthens, we anticipate more opportunities with new products and applications.”
“We are expecting a recovery in the overall industry and are eager to support the continuous improvement of environmental friendly printing inks,” said Ms. Napalowski.
“We are looking forward to 2010 as a year of advancement and recovery in the graphic arts segment,” Mr. Bradley concluded.
New Waxes and Additives
The following listing includes products introduced to the ink industry in 2009.
Air Products & Chemicals
7201 Hamilton Blvd.
Allentown, PA 18195
Phone: (610) 481-4911
Fax: (610) 481-4381
• Carbowet DC11, 125 and 144
Comments: In 2009, Air Products has introduced several new solvent-free and alkyl phenol ethoxylate-free additives for pigment and substrate wetting. Carbowet DC11, 125 and 144 surfactants offer cost-effective substrate wetting, pigment wetting and stabilization in a wide range of applications and polymer systems.
• Carbowet 13-40
Comments: Carbowet 13-40 surfactant provides emulsification and improves freeze-thaw, mechanical and oven-aging stability of emulsion systems. These alternatives to APE’s such as nonylphenol and octylphenol ethoxylates can be incorporated into a wide range of applications, including pigment dispersions and synthesis, waterborne inks, industrial and architectural coatings.
BYK USA, Inc.
524 South Cherry St.
Wallingford, CT 06492
Tel: (203) 265-2086
Fax: (203) 284-9158
Comments: Disperbyk-2008 has been specifically designed as a wetting and dispersing additive for silica-based matting agents for use in solvent-free UV cure and solvent-based systems. It provides excellent deflocculating, stabilization and orientation of matting agents, resulting in significant viscosity reduction.
5051 Estecreek Dr.
Cincinnati, OH 45240
Phone: (513) 482-2340
Fax: (513) 482-5512
• DSX 3291
Comments: DSX 3291 is a VOC-free, APEO-free, solvent-free, heavy metal and odor-free, ultra-efficient associative thickener for “green” water-based coatings. It allows thick coatings to be easily sprayed. Performance highlights include excellent low shear viscosity builder, easy handling, easy incorporation without high shear mixing, superior sag resistance for thick coatings and lower viscosity drop-on-tinting.
• DSX 3121
Comments: DSX 3121 is a VOC-free, Newtonian (ICI) associative thickener exceeding benchmark HEUR technology in performance and efficiency. It is designed for a new class of latexes used in very low VOC paints. Excellent for high shear viscosity build for one-coat coverage while enhancing low shear performance for superior sag resistance.
• Dehydran 2293
Comments: Dehydran 2293 is a new highly efficient defoamer that is free from VOCs for mid-range to high-end paint formulations. It is designed for use in paints with pro-environmental labeling and consequently enables paint manufacturers to serve the consumer demand for sustainable end-products. Dehydran defoamers offer excellent long-term efficiency, market-leading defoaming performance and outstanding compatibility with a range of high-gloss, highly pigmented paints and clear coatings. Cognis’ latest product, Dehydran 2293, enhances the company’s existing portfolio of green VOC-free, mineral-oil-free, organosilicone defoamers for water-based coatings.
710 South 6th Ave.
Hopewell, VA 23860
Phone: (804) 452-5604
Fax: (804) 541-6290
• TEGO Glide 485
Comments: TEGO Glide 485 is a slip and flow additive for FDA-compliant printing inks and overprint varnishes used in packaging applications. Addition levels up to 1.0% are in compliance with FDA Regulation 21 CFR 175.300 (c) resinous and polymeric coatings. With a well-balanced property profile, TEGO Glide 485 is distinguished by its outstanding anti-blocking, slip and release properties. This additive is also ideal for wood and furniture coatings to improve scratch resistance.
• TEGO Dispers 685
Comments: TEGO Dispers 685 is a high performance wetting and dispersing additive designed for organic pigments and carbon black in energy-curing and solventborne systems. TEGO Dispers 685 allows for higher pigment loads while supporting the reduction of viscosity and improving the flow behavior of the ink and its printability on the press. TEGO Dispers 685 produces outstanding development of color strength. Main areas of application are UV flexo, screen or litho ink systems; however, it can also be used to formulate solventborne printing inks, solventborne or high-solids industrial coatings. It is available as 100% active liquid.
• TEGO Dispers 670
Comments: TEGO Dispers 670 is ideal for the production of pigment concentrates and co-grinds. It is distinguished by its effectiveness in wetting and stabilizing inorganic, organic and carbon black pigments used in high-solids and solventborne automotive, industrial and wood and furniture coatings as well as solventborne inks. TEGO Dispers 670 produces outstanding development of color strength while allowing for high pigment loading. This additive offers excellent compatibility, reduces mill base viscosity while maintaining excellent rheology, and imparts long-term shelf stability.
• TEGO AddBond and TEGO VariPlus
Comments: TEGO AddBond and TEGO VariPlus improve the adhesion of paints and printing inks on metals and plastics. When used as co-binders, additional properties, such as the hardness flexibility balance and drying speed, can be matched to the customer's individual needs. TEGO AddBond and TEGO VariPlus products meet the highest standard for product quality and are available for solventborne, waterborne, and energy-curing coatings and printing inks.
Hexion Specialty Chemicals
99 East Cottage Ave.
Carpentersville, IL 60110
Phone: (866) 443-9466
Fax: (877) 443-9466
• Stirinol 385E
Comments: Stirinol 385E combines excellent rub resistance, abrasion and scratch resistance with good gloss retention, outstanding slip and anti-blocking. Stirinol 385E exhibits low peppering. This product brings an broad band of performance for heatset web offset inks.
• Ultrapoly 980E
Comments: Ultrapoly 980E is 100% nonvolatile polyethylene wax compound formulated with a high content of renewable material. Ultrapoly 980 E combines excellent rub resistance, abrasion and scratch resistance.
• Fluoron 770
Comments: Fluoron 770 is a high quality, high performance additive with good rub and slip. Fluoron 770 is a proprietary blend of PTFE dispersed in a unique, 100% nonvolatile, lubricating paste with 68 to 71% bio-renewable content. Fluoron 770 is recommended in heatset ink systems.
• Flexonic 902
Comments: Flexonic 902 was developed for waterborne flexo systems requiring a high degree of slip, scratch resistance and wet rub resistance, without reducing gloss levels. Flexonic 902 utilizes a unique surfactant system that controls foaming without sacrificing water resistance or contributing to incompatibility.
Keim-Additec Surface USA LLC
1200 Central Ave., Suite 306
Wilmette, IL 60091
Phone: (847) 920-1676
Fax: (847) 920-1681
• ULTRALUBE OS-1 and ULTRALUBE OS-4
Comments: ULTRALUBE OS-1 and ULTRALUBE OS-4 are vegetable oil-based wax compounds for the use in lithographic inks, especially sheetfed offset grades, to achieve rub resistance and gloss retention.
• ULTRALUBE D-806
Comments: ULTRALUBE D-806 is a cost-efficient high performance aqueous HDPE-wax dispersion to replace micronized waxes, especially in flexo inks.
• ULTRALUBE E-850
Comments: ULTRALUBE E-850 is a high performing aqueous HDPE-wax emulsion especially for use in high gloss OPVs to strongly improve abrasion resistance.
• ULTRALUBE MD-2030
Comments: ULTRALUBE MD-2030 is an aqueous micro dispersion based on a mod. HDPE-wax providing strong anti-blocking, rub and scratch resistance, especially in flexo inks.
• CERALENE 1 M
Comments: CERALENE 1M is a non-oxidized PE wax for the use in solvent-based publication gravure inks.
• SILCO SPERSE HLD-11
Comments: SILCO SPERSE HLD-11 is typically used in resin-based pigment concentrates. The FDA compliant dispersant shows broad versatility and compatibility to grinding resins like styrene acrylics, styrene maleics, acrylics and caseinic binders.
• SILCO SPERSE HLD-9/M
Comments: SILCO SPERSE types are pigment dispersing additives; HLD-9/M is designed for binder-free pigment concentrates typically used in the water-based ink industries. The shelf life of the concentrates and the compatibility to typical letdowns is outstanding.
Lubrizol Advanced Materials, Inc.
9911 Brecksville Road
Cleveland, OH 44141
Phone: (216) 447-5000
Fax: (216) 447-5238
• Carbocure 652
• Carbocure 960
• Pinnacle 2530
• Solsperse X-300
Comments: Lubrizol Advanced Materials has a number of new developments in its energy-cured additives line, including Carbocure 652 for matting effects, Carbocure 960 for texturing, Pinnacle 2530 for soft-feel applications, and CC-8550 as a primer for spot texturing applications. In addition, Solsperse X-300 is a unique reactive hyper-dispersant that helps maintain excellent curing rate and film integrity for UV systems.
• Liquilube 504
Comments: For aqueous specialty packaging systems, Lubrizol’s new polypropylene dispersion, CC-4199, is designed for excellent block resistance and COF control. Lubrizol is also releasing a new high efficiency emulsion system, Liquilube 504, designed for excellent abrasion resistance at low use levels.