As we reach the middle of 2011, we can take stock on how the ink industry, its suppliers and customers are faring. In recent issues, Ink World has spoken with leaders in the ink industry (North American Top 20 Report), suppliers (the pigment, resin and additive reports), and equipment manufacturers (the milling and mixing report). In each of these articles, similar themes have emerged. For most companies throughout the supply chain, growth is occurring. However, higher raw material costs and availability concerns are major roadblocks.
In this issue, we focus on some of the growth markets within the ink industry. For example, the International Top Companies Report, is a microcosm of the ink industry. However, many of these companies are enjoying stronger growth due to their presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
On the pigment side, The Market for Metallics, is a growth area, with metallic ink and pigment manufacturers working closely with designers to develop new eye-catching packaging and publications for consumers to spot on the shelf. Vehicles and Varnishes, notes the importance of developing new technologies to help ink manufacturers differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
Digital technologies and printed electronics (PE) are two areas of interest for the industry. Inkjet, of course, has been enjoying excellent growth, although that slowed during the recession; the problem for digital printers has been getting the funding to buy new equipment. In the Inkjet Ink Report, digital ink leaders say that their business is improving nicely.
Printed electronics is a new business that could offer explosive growth in the coming years, but further investment is essential. As I note in my report on the recent LOPE-C 2011 conference, held in Frankfurt, Germany, attendance is up dramatically at the major conferences, and lots of new technologies are emerging that may bring the PE industry into full bloom.
All in all, there is plenty of room for optimism for the ink industry, especially for those companies that are developing new technologies with an eye toward the future.