New print systems and applications are driving ink suppliers to innovate.
Like her competitors, Witte at INX Digital considers UV LED as a technology to watch: “UV LED is in greater demand this year with more printers on the horizon. The smaller units targeting promotional and light industrial work are all designed with LED,” generating the awareness and interest that will create a strong market for these inks. Her company is seeing growth in UV and water-based inks, she says, as well as a consistent demand for solvent inks.
Muller at Bordeaux sees an increased demand for UV inks, and a growing interest in latex inks, but not yet at the expense of eco-solvent inks. “Eco is still strong and we don’t see it diminishing for the next few years,” she explains. “New and improved printers are being introduced, and the inks and solutions are smarter, and demand for them continues to rise.”
Mimaki’s McGovern sees an increased demand for latex inks for use in wraps “where no ‘de-gassing’ is required before lamination.” He says the latex inks eliminate a major drawback of solvent inks: the delay, after printing, before final finishing. “The waiting time for lamination has always been an issue with solvent-ink formulations, where the user has to wait 18-20 hours before the protective laminate can be applied. Water-based latex inks enable improved workflow because the laminated vinyl can be applied to the vehicle immediately after printing. The same advantages are in place with UV-cure flexible inks, where immediate lamination or liquid overcoats pose no difficulties after printing rigid or soft substrates.”
Saunders at Sun Chemical sees increased demand for UV LED as well: “There is significant regional demand for UV LED and many bigger players in the market are looking at UV LED because of its environmental benefits. The latex-inks market is also growing – recent developments in this field have opened the industry’s eyes to water-containing inks,” he observes.
Nazdar’s Dunklee reports a “significant decline” in demand for grand-format solvent inks. Offsetting that trend, however, he says, are sales gains in cartridge solvent inks, dye-sublimation inks, and UV inks.”