NPIRI Technical Conference Examines Future Opportunities

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 11.16.12

Past NPIRI award honorees gathered to honor Jonathan Graunke and Rick Krause after they received their awards during the NPIRI Technical Conference: from left, Maurice Carruthers, Rich Bradley, Lisa Fine. Joe Cichon, Rick Krause, Diane Parisi, Jonathan Graunke, Joon Choo, Dan DeLegge, Rod Balmer and Andrew Matthews.
The printing ink market is in a time of transition, and knowing where opportunities lie and forming the partnerships that are required to survive and succeed in new markets are becoming ever more critical.

With this in mind, the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) centered this year’s National Printing Ink Research Institute’s (NPIRI) Annual Technical Conference on the themes of Future Opportunities/Navigating/Markets/Partnerships. The conference, which was chaired by Doug Anderson of Central Ink Corporation, was held at the Eaglewood Resort and Spa, Itasca, IL from Oct. 16-18, 2012.

The conference opened with a pair of well-attended concurrent short courses. “Regulation Navigation: Surviving Amidst the Perfect Storm,” a look at global regulatory programs, was led by Richard Johnson of Penn Color Inc. “Adhesion Science,” an overview of adhesion as well as some practical challenges, was presented by Greg Turco of BASF.

The Technical Conference formally opened with“Importance of Supply Chain Communication from a Brand Owner’s Perspective,” the keynote address, presented byGlenn Ventrell of Ventrell Consulting.

Mr. Ventrell was senior director R&D packaging and customer innovation for Quaker Foods and Snacks and Global Nutrition Group, both divisions of PepsiCo. Mr. Ventrell also served as senior director packaging innovation for Sara Lee, and spent 20 years with Wrigley in various roles. He focused his talk on product packaging from a brand owner’s perspective.

“Brand identity is extremely important throughout the company,” Mr. Ventrell said. “Color is important to customers – they remember colors, maybe not the name of the product. The owner of Wrigley even carried a color chip with him and checked packaging.

“Understanding your customer’s customers point of view is important,” Mr. Ventrell added. “You need to understand the decision makers and their drivers.”

Brad Bergey, executive director of NAPIM, followed Mr. Ventrell with “The State of the Industry Report,” a review of the ink industry’s economic performance in 2011, updated through the first half of 2012.

Mr. Bergey reported that 2011 saw a -1.9% earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) for the ink industry, down from 3.0% in 2010, which is a product of raw materials prices, among other issues. Meanwhile, return on net assets (RONA) was -3.9% in 2011, a decline from 8.1% in 2010.

Mr. Bergey pointed out that studies show that ad pages are down 55% from 2000. This has led to major changes in the publication printing field.

“Litho inks used to be 60% of the ink business, but it has declined to 800 million pounds in 2011 from 1.1 billion pounds in 2004,” Mr. Bergey said. “Studies say litho printing will shrink further. Packaging is a $600 billion business today, and it could be $1 trillion by 2020 as there is an emerging middle class in the developing countries. This is a structural change – it won’t go back to the way it was.”

One of the main reasons for the ink industry’s decline in profitability has been the dramatic increase in prices for raw materials; concerns over availability are also a major issue. Flint Group’s Diane Parisi brought together a panel of experts to discuss “The Future of Raw Materials.”

Jan Jeffries of BASF discussed kaolin; Matt Snow of Dow Chemical looked at oxygenated solvents; Josh Mathes of Southern Clay Products analyzed organoclays, while Kevin Bergeron of Flint Group offered his analysis of the titanium dioxide market.

“Kaolin is supplied from Georgia and Brazil, and there are five suppliers, four to paper and four to industrial applications,” Mr. Jeffries noted. “Kaolin production dropped about 50% in the last 12 years, and there has been a lot of consolidation and huge fixed costs. Kaolin producers expect to see escalation in pricing.”

“Solvent manufacturers must improve their earnings to sustainable levels in order to justify investment to meet demand,” Mr. Snow observed. “Backward integration will help smooth volatility.”

Mr. Bergeron noted that TiO2 consumption has declined a lot, and TiO2 is overstocked. “The sulphate process is used for ink, and suppliers have declined,” Mr. Bergeron said. “Suppliers are offering more innovative TiO2 products. They don’t want to lose the ink industry.”

On hand for Flint Group are, from left, Michael Kellen, Bill Miller, Michael Podd, Rod Balmer, Kevin Bergeson, Kevin Kingman, Andrew Matthews, Diane Parisi, Mike Stoltz, David Hart and Bill McPartland.

The Oct. 17 concurrent sessions covered Analytics and Regulatory issues.

The Analytics session, which was chaired by Jonathan Graunke of INX International Ink Co., began with “Novel Lamination Ink Resin,” presented by Charlie Hsua of BASF. Mr. Hsua’s paper, which received the Lawter Series Award for best paper, focused on a new technology recently developed for high-speed printing by BASF.

Valerie Woodward of Lubrizol Advanced Materials followed Mr. Hsua’s talk with her presentation on “Analytical Techniques Used in the Characterization of Heatset Printing Inks.” Axel Fisher of the International Association of the Deinking Industry then discussed “How to Get the Ink Off the Paper - A Deinking Technology Update.”

Shawnacy McManus of Hockmeyer Equipment followed with “Optimizing Your Process Through Particle Analysis.” David Carreiro of ThermoFischer closed the Analytics session with his talk on “XRF Technology as a Raw Material Screening Tool for Ink Manufacturers.”

The Regulatory session, which was moderated by Mr. Johnson, opened with Kevin Facklam of INX International Ink, who discussed “European Food Packaging Safety Issues and Programs.” Christina Kelley-Astorga of Food Safety and Quality Systems, LLC, presented her talk on “Introduction to Global Food Safety Initiative and Safe Quality Food Systems.”

Ed Casserly of Ergon discussed “Mineral Oils EHS Update 2012. Erin Veder and David Regelbrugge of Environ talked about “EHS Compliance Auditing to Minimize Business Risks.” Mr. Johnson closed the session with Regulation Navigation,” a summary of his short course.

The New Technology Innovations Session, which was moderated by Bob Wichtendahl of Toyo Ink International Corp., closed the conference on Oct. 18. “Update - EB Technology in Printing/Packaging Applications,” was given by Steve Lapin of PCT Engineered Systems. “An Alternative to Bisphenol-A based Epoxy Acrylates” was presented by Mike O’Brien of Stepan Company.

Danny Rich of Sun Chemical analyzed “Graphic Arts to Graphic Engineering.” Sally Ramsey of Ecology Coatings discussed “A UV Curable Grease Resistant Coating Comprised of GRAS Components,” and Dave Pope of NovaCentrix closed the conference with his talk on “Printed Electronics - An Update for Ink Manufacturers.”

INX International Ink Co. was represented by Rick Clendenning, Mark Hill, Charles Sagert, Rich Lehning, Rick Westrom, Joe Kelly, Joe Cichon, Tom Lynch, Kim Kroncke, Jon Graunke, Tim Bishop, Russ Szadowski, Mike Sajdak, John Hrdlick, Bob Osmundsen, Jim Kochanny, Dan Lombardo, Bryce Kristo and Tom Jasinksi.
Awards Dinner

One of the highlights of the NPIRI Technical Conference is the Awards Dinner, which honors an ink industry leader and a supplier for their accomplishments on behalf of the industry. As was the case last year, the Awards Dinner coincided with the Fall Open Board Reception, which was attended by many industry leaders.

“Today, just making ink isn’t enough,” NAPIM president George Sickinger, president and CEO of Color Resolutions International, told attendees. “You have to make smart inks. Our technical people pull rabbits out of their hats. They are our unsung heroes.”

Mr. Graunke, INX International Ink Company’s vice president, energy curable technology, received the Technical Achievement Award (TAA) for his work at INX International Ink Co. He has been in the ink industry since 1992, and is active in RadTech and in UV/EB matters.

“Thank you very much,” Mr. Graunke said. “I really appreciate the confidence that INX has shown me.”

Rick Krause, business director, Printing & Packaging - North America for BASF, was honored with the Technical Associate Member (TAM) Service Award for his service to BASF and the ink industry. Mr. Krause, who received the prestigious Printing Ink Production Award from NAPIM earlier this year, has been involved in the packaging side of the ink industry for his entire career. He serves as a director-at-large for NAPIM, and is a long-standing member of its Management Services Committee.

NAPIM officials said that the feedback they received on the conference was excellent. Lisa Fine of Joules Angstrom U.V. Printing Inks, who serves as NPIRI’s president, said the conference was very well received.

“It is important to have the ability to get together with your colleagues who you don’t always get a chance to see,” Ms. Fine said. “It helps keep us together. The sessions have been excellent. We are looking at ways we can improve our conferences, and also find ways to attract more ink manufacturers and suppliers.”

“We are getting good feedback on all of our sessions, and great attendance for our awards dinner,” said George Fuchs, director of regulatory affairs and technology for NAPIM. “We had an excellent balance between technology and regulatory talks. Our attendance was really good compared to recent years. Compared to other associations’ meetings, the attendance at our sessions is really good.”

“I am very happy with the conference,” Mr. Bergey concluded. “Having the Board of Directors meeting coincide with the conference works out great. Our planning committee worked hard to select and deliver relevant topics, and we had a lot of non-members join us here.”

To view photos from the NPIRI Technical Conference please click on the image below.