MMP Capital | Graphic Arts & Printing

Apr 19, 2021

Ink Usage Trends into 2021 | Digital Output

Ink usage is more varied than ever before as new applications form and industries adopt digital printing. Print service providers (PSPs) are tasked with serving customers in the best way they know, pairing emerging technology with their expertise. Leveraging ink certifications as well as taking advantage of the newest ink advancements keeps them ahead of the game.

It is unanimous that UV ink is steadily sought after, however demand for water-based ink and latex continues to grow. UV’s versatility contributes to constant ink utilization. It is used in several hardware configurations. “UV inks are definitely catching up to the level of usage of solvent and latex. Over half of the flatbeds in the market are UV and that number continues to grow. There are many grand format machines that have exclusively gone to UV inks. These machines typically use a greater volume of ink so naturally the usage will continue to rise for UV inks,” explains Chris Padilla, product manager, Mutoh America, Inc.

Mike Kyritsi, president, swissQprint USA, believes, “water-based inks are likely to gradually replace conventional UV inks as they have advantages in terms of migration and cost.”

“Water-based inks are rising in popularity due to concerns regarding sustainability and human health,” agrees Shawn Liu, director of digital technologies, FIREBIRD Digital Inks.

Speaking to latex ink, Terry Amerine, VP, sales and marketing, Polymeric USA, sees consistent growth. “It is probably one of the fastest growing ink technologies in terms of digital ink, except for direct to garment (DTG) water-based ink.” “We have seen a large increase in textile ink, especially digital textile. Much of this is attributed to the rise in online shopping and the ease of adopting DTG printing into existing workflows. Businesses see adding digital garment printers as a way to increase offerings to existing customers,” agrees Taylor Landesman, VP, Lawson Screen & Digital Products, Inc.

“With apparel everything is moving towards water based, lower cure temperatures, faster fixation times, and more eco-friendly needs,” notes Luke Ryerkerk, CEO, Polyprint USA. When it comes to solvent-based ink sets, some say usage is decreasing. “The use of solvent ink is slowly declining, but printers have found a niche with it—primarily driven by their pricing to end customers,” explains Amerine.

“Solvent continues reducing its use in the occidental countries. However, the consumption in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East is still significant and continues being the cheapest option,” shares Pedro J. Martinez, CEO, AFFORD INKS. Kyritsi believes “solvent inks are bound to disappear due to the worldwide movement for environmentally friendly solutions.”

On the other hand, Michael Maxwell, senior manager – corporate strategic development, Mimaki USA, Inc., says solvent continues to be dominant for most of its customers. “We continue to experience growth here. We have also experienced an increase year-over-year in UV LED curable inks. Research data shows that while solvent adoption is stable, UV LED has increased, and others have stalled or declined.” Passing the Test Depending on a PSP’s clientele base, certifications many be necessary to ensure a sustainable product is placed in the final application setting, usually for environmental stewardship reasons and/or for human health. Examples of certifications include OEKO-TEX, CPSIA, and Prop 65, all of which are required by

Kodak Kodacolor water-based pigment ink customers, according to Grant French, director of digital ink sales, Eastman Kodak. “Ink certifications are important as the ethicality of productsare being scrutinized more as the industry grows. —

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