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Think Ink

(May 2014) posted on Tue Apr 29, 2014

New print systems and applications are driving ink suppliers to innovate.

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By Mike Antoniak

Ink: To a print provider, it’s the equivalent of potable water. Without a good supply of quality ink, your printers go thirsty, your resultant jobs look haggard, and your profits will dry up and wither away.

On a broader scale, ink also plays a critical role in the wide-format industry as a whole. Ink suppliers are being challenged to develop inks that can adhere to more substrates as inkjet is used for an unending variety of applications, but also dry even more quickly while providing a broader color gamut.

Ink suppliers – OEMs as well as producers of aftermarket inks – have been moving to answer these challenges. They’re continually refining and expanding their ink offerings to capitalize on all the capabilities of the latest wide-format print equipment, plus the expansive selection of print media now available. Of course, it’s on the shop floor where the ink producers’ answers to those industry challenges converge with the print service provider’s needs and jobs.

In reading through the comments of the six companies that appear here, you’ll find their take on the broader ink trends affecting the entire wide-format industry. In addition, you’ll get a glimpse of each company’s particular marketing focus and even a look into a product or two.

Meeting market demands
According to Peter Saunders, global sales and marketing manager for Sun Chemical, the most noteworthy trend in wide format is “the need for inks that adhere to a wide range of substrates on much faster presses.” He reports that the company is working with its OEM partners to make digital wide format a more viable alternative to offset, and ink will be one key to realizing that goal. “The inks need to cure on the wide range of substrates used at production speeds, which are now achieving up to 100 square meters per hour.”

Terry Mitchell, vice president of marketing for Fujifilm North America’s Graphic Systems Division, sees the prospects for inks and new print systems intertwined: “We’re seeing growth in demand for digital equipment and ink from all segments of the market,” he reports.