New print systems and applications are driving ink suppliers to innovate.
Features looked for
Are there specific features, qualities, or factors that print providers look for when shopping for an ink?
Marco Boer at consultancy IT Strategies (it-strategies.com) thinks so: “First and foremost, print providers want a predictable, readily available source of inks,” he says. “Secondly, they want to be educated on where those inks work well and not well, how they react to different substrates, and how they perform in different applications. It’s become clear that there is no universal ink that works equally well in every circumstance. Knowledge is a valuable shortcut to preventing costly experimentation or, worse, customer complaints about final output. Too, a fair price for ink is always a given.”
Bordeaux customers want a comparable combination of benefits, says Muller. “Best price is always important, but quality and ease of work always seem to take precedent. Special ink features like better adhesion and special colors like vivid magenta are in demand. When you provide the customer with a simple, quality solution that is cost effective, the customer will usually go for it.”
From his viewpoint, Dunklee at Nazdar sees end-users looking for specific ink attributes based on the print equipment they have in place. “Providers using solvent inks are simply looking for the best price – the portion of the market that still uses solvent inks has seen significant price erosion of the products they typically manufacture. With print providers using UV technology, we’re seeing a need for more specialized inks.”
Fujifilm’s Mitchell asserts: “Print providers are seeking the solution that best meets their needs. We’re seeing printers targeting specific applications with dedicated equipment. Ink is only one part of the decision.”
At Mimaki, McGovern also cites trends in print systems sales, which are impacting prospects in categories like UV inks. “We feel the marketplace for more compact UV-cure flatbeds is a growing area for smaller sign shops that have not previously adopted UV flatbeds due to the pricing of larger and more expensive flatbeds. Printers with a lower entry price point, sub $99K, are becoming attractive to this group.”
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