Such steps have succeeded in doubling the water-based flexo inks production capacity of these facilities. Production using newly installed equipment commenced in November 2016.
The use of polymer plate, flexographic printing, a type of letterpress printing, offers comparatively lower costs than gravure printing—which involves etching the images to be printed into the surface of a metal cylinder—and is thus used extensively in the printing of department store and boutique shopping bags, corrugated boxes and other types of packaging materials.
Thanks to recent technological advances, flexographic printing has seen improvements in productivity, such as printing speed and high resolution, while the range of compatible substrates has grown to include films and textiles.
In Asia, printing for packaging materials has traditionally used solvent-based gravure inks. However, in many emerging markets, governments have introduced national regulations governing the use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). As a result, demand has increased for environment-friendly alternatives. Water-based flexo inks are attracting increasing attention from Asian customers, with the local market for these products expanding steadily at high single digit percentage annually.
The DIC Group supplies inks to customers in Oceania and exports them to customers in Asia primarily through Pacific Inks Limited of New Zealand, acquired in 2011. DIC recently closed Pacific Inks’ production facility in Auckland, New Zealand, integrating the functions into its facility in Sydney, Australia, where it also installed state-of-the-art new production equipment.
Sun Chemical, a wholly owned subsidiary of DIC, has accumulated technological expertise in the area of water-based flexo inks, particularly in Europe and the Americas. By capitalizing on Sun Chemical’s product lineup, as well as on key management resources, DIC aims to double its output of flexo inks from the fiscal year 2015 level by fiscal year 2020.