The Ink Industry in 2018 – A Review

Since 2018 is gone and the first month of 2019 is almost over, it’s time to review the developments in the ink industry, to sum up what shaped it during the past year.

2018 is gone and the first month of the new year is almost over. So, it’s time to look at the most important developments in various sectors our industry is interconnected with. We get started with reviewing the ink industry.

Due to raw material shortages, strong competition, and ongoing customer consolidations, the ink industry had to face several challenges, especially the packaging and digital printing sectors. While packaging and digital printing continued to grow, the publication and commercial side had its challenges.

It’s the energy curable ink field that seems to be really promising since it’s already one of the dominating technologies used in narrow web and mid-web printing in some regions. There’s still room for the technology to grow in the graphic arts market, it remains a growing market with sustained future potential in other regions around the world.

Furthermore, UV has found a position in packaging, commercial, industrial and more. It can be used for a variety of printing processes, including offset, screen, digital, etc. Variations of energy cure are the future of printing. Because UV inks dry in a matter of seconds, the printed material can be immediately processed when coming out of the press, which saves printers money and time. Besides, UV printing can be used with almost any surface and therefore, offers a vast selection of inflexible and flexible print substrates.

Raw Materials

When it comes to raw materials, 2018 was really challenging. For instance, in May 2018, the European Printing Ink Association (EuPIA) warned of a “potential shortage of photoinitiators”.

Additionally, TPO and TPO-L, important photoinitiators for inkjet inks, UV LED inks, automotive coatings, and wood coatings and flooring, were in short supply due to the shutdown of a key precursor. Now, there are only a handful of companies left that produce this precursor. This made the prices rise dramatically. Meanwhile, pigments, intermediates and other materials remain a challenge. For titanium dioxide, the supply situation remains more than tight. Due to stricter environmental regulations, prices for pigments relating intermediates, photoinitiators as well as other additives, have also increased significantly during 2018.

With the challenges the raw material market had to tackle, waxes and additive manufacturers had to work closer with their customers to find solutions for their current problems. But nevertheless, leading suppliers reported gains in their respective segments.

Metallic Pigments

But now to some pleasant developments: Because it’s getting more and more important to catch the attention of the consumer, it’s no surprise that the global metallic pigments market is growing. It is expected to reach $1.86 billion by 2026.

Additionally, brand owners continue to see a strong interest in metallic inks and they are being used on a much broader variety of packaging than in the past.

We’re curious about the developments the new year will bring to the ink (and packaging) industry. And guess what’s best about 2019? It’s only one year to go until we welcome you at drupa 2020, where we’re able to see what ink manufacturers have in mind for the future.

What was the most important development in 2018 for you?