Bright and bold

25 January 2016

Bright and bold

Bright and bold

The ink world is colourful; its role in the converting industry gives a number of solutions to applications across the supply chain. Emma-Jane Batey interviews leading players to learn more about the latest trends.

Ink and marking products bring packaging to life. After all, what good is great converting and packaging without knowing what's inside? With stricter regulations and a greater consumer understanding of how the products we use impact our bodies and the environment, it is essential for the ink industry to keep updating its processes and ingredients.

Companies are welcoming this new challenge. Needham Inks, the UK's leading industrial ink supplier, has over 50 years of experience in the ink industry. Based in Whitchurch, Shropshire, the company is dedicated to progression. Its recent partnership with a Vietnamese company and its increasingly diverse variety of colours and products are testament to that. Aaron Pawson, Needham Inks technical director, explains: "Our research, development and manufacturing facilities supply our extensive product range to select distributors in over 73 countries. We pride ourselves on our ability to innovate and provide long-lasting valuable relationships with our clients. We're always looking to create new partnerships and we believe it is our technically-advanced approach, paired with our high-quality industrial ink and fluids, which brings exceptional benefits to our partners."

It is Needham Inks' new partnership with Vietnamese company EIP, which is based in Long An Province and specialises in CIJ and food-grade ink, that will boost its presence across the country. Pawson says: "We are pleased to be able to introduce our new partnership with EIP. This will allow our extensive range of industrial inks to me made available within the province and wider Vietnam, with EIP acting as our primary distributor in the area."

With over 3,000 ink formulations, Needham Inks' strength is its in-house team of chemists that are dedicated to developing and enhancing its products. Pawson says: "We have extensive knowledge across all types of ink technology, ranging from high-tech inkjet inks and flexographic inks to election stains and health and meat marking inks. We are able to work on small, one-off projects and specialist ink development projects, with every project we undertake allocated a lead chemist and project manager to ensure it is operated efficiently and is completed within the agreed timescales."

New global partners

A globally-active player in the ink game, AkzoNobel has recently invested in a new operation in Asia. The coatings and chemicals giant has started new operations in Songjiang, China, where its state-of-the-art plant is the world's biggest site for packaging coatings. Chen Bin, AkzoNobel's metal coatings director says: "This new facility will establish AkzoNobel as a local supplier of inks in China and strengthen our position in the local packaging market. It also means that we now have local production of the complete external coatings system."

With AkzoNobel's plant able to produce inks used in beverage and can packaging, it will employ about 300 people and will also house the company's largest research and development centre in China. Bin says: "We are very pleased to have started local production of inks in Songjiang. It will help us to better serve customers in what is one of our most important markets." Serving over 80 countries and employing close to 50,000 people worldwide, AkzoNobel has well-known brands Dulux, Sikkens, International and Eka in its portfolio of global paints, coatings and speciality chemicals. With its promise of "transforming communities through the power of colour and to supply the essential ingredients that make lives more liveable", the company is passionate about "developing sustainable answers" for its customers.

Commitment to its promise is clearly reflected in its Planet Possible initiative, which is focused on delivering more value from fewer resources. This includes more efficient use of renewable energy throughout its operations and production processes and using less fossil-based raw materials. AkzoNobel is also increasingly using and developing bio-based products in its ink production.

Needham Inks is eager to promote its dedication to sustainable products and production processes. It aims to prevent environmental incidents and pollution by developing and designing safe plants that have no negative impact on the planet and by continually working above and beyond the ISO14001 compliance standards.

Presenting the best

The 2015 LabelExpo, with over 600 exhibitors, highlighted the importance of sustainability in high-performance inks. Held in Brussels from 29 September to 2 October, attendees to the LabelExpo learnt that ink manufacturers are a vital part of the show, due to tags and labels being a considerable driver of the ink market.

Held every two years and attracting nearly 32,000 visitors in 2013 and nearly 36,000 last year, LabelExpo is the world's largest event for the label and package printing industry. Packed with new product launches and developments, the European show is its flagship exhibition. At last year's event, important exhibitor launches included the Flint Group, global ink giant Sun Chemical and Pulse Roll Label Products.

For the Luxembourg-based, privately owned company Flint Group, which is one of the largest suppliers to the global printing and packaging industry, LabelExpo was the perfect launch pad for its new upgraded products. It presented its next-generation UV flexo and UV offset inks for low migration, UV flexo and water-based inks for narrow-web flexible packaging applications and a new range of coatings, which were specifically targeted at digital printed media.

Sun Chemical presented its latest products and innovations at LabelExpo, which included a dispensing system, digital inkjet inks, brand-protection solutions, colour management and speciality coatings all on show. Sun Chemical demonstrated its commitment to innovation as a provider of global solutions, by taking visitors on a journey through its full-capability product portfolio, which spans the entire packaging and labelling workflow. The company showcased its experience in conceptualising the initial package design, prepress, coatings, inks and consumables, conversion, brand integrity and compliant packaging solutions all the way to the final point of sale.

Pulse Roll Label Products showcased its new high-strength UV flexo ink system, which has been designed to "push the boundaries of what can be achieved in terms of ink vibrancy and colour". The Bristol-based manufacturer of high-quality inks and varnishes for the global narrow-web label printing market is setting new standards for UV flexo inks, particularly as its sustainability focus means that its mono-pigmented mixing bases and other products help printers achieve brighter and higher colour strength with substantially less ink.

With sustainability being a popular watchword, it is clear that no compromise is acceptable when it comes to quality and clarity for ink manufacturers.


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