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Link: 2015 Waxes and Additives Report | Ink World
By: Catherine Diamond, Associate Editor of Ink World
Waxes and additives are critical to the performance of printing inks. They can improve runnability of inks on the press and can determine the features seen in the finished product.
They are so vital to the performance of printing inks that Markets and Markets, a global research and consulting firm, predicts that the international market for waxes and additives will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.78% through 2019.
The report “Ink Additives Market by Type (Rheology Modifier, Slip/Rub Material, Defoamers, Dispersants), by Process (Flexographic, Lithographic, Gravure, Digital), by Application (Flexible Packaging, Publication, Corrugated, Promotion) – Global Forecasts to 2019” analyzes the global ink additives market with respect to market drivers, restraints, opportunities and challenges in different regions.
According to Markets and Markets, the global ink additives market is significantly penetrating in the printing ink applications. The characteristics of the end products differ as per the requirement of end-user industries and for different applications.
The Asia-Pacific region is the fastest growing segment of the global ink additive market, and is mainly attributed to high economic growth rate followed by growing demand for online shopping and packet food, which is helping to drive growth in the printing ink industry. The Asia-Pacific and RoW markets are estimated to show a rising growth in the next five years, with the allied industries expected to stabilize the overall business need in the respective regions.
The Eastern and Central European nations, emerging South-East Asian and Latin American nations that will host future global events will supplement the growth of food & beverage packaging, followed by publishing and promotion, which will indirectly boost the demand for the ink additives.
The ink additives demand, in terms of value and volume, depicts the current and future projections according to the parallel economic and industrial outlook. The global market value of the ink additives market was estimated to $629.02 million in 2013.
Leading waxes and additives suppliers unanimously agreed that the market is seeing sustained growth. According to Julie Vaughn, VP of business development and marketing at Emerald Performance Materials, stricter regulatory requirements have driven innovation in waxes and additives to meet requirements such as REACH, the Swiss Ordinance and other global regulatory concerns.
“As a result,” she said, “companies have developed more customized technical solutions to address emerging issues, and so a one-size-fits-all answer is becoming obsolete. Notable areas of growth for inks and graphic arts include the packaging and inkjet segments, driven both by increased consumption and by new technology in equipment and ink, expanding the range of possibilities.”
Vaughn noted that geographically emerging markets, including India, Middle East and Turkey and Eastern Europe, are showing good growth. “From an applications standpoint, food packaging continues to be a growth segment,” she said.
Joon Choo, VP at Shamrock Technologies, said that the last few years has seen a stronger focus on more efficient and environmentally friendly additives. “Given the growth in the high solids and water-based segments, customers have asked for new developments with improved performance that comply with both criteria,” Choo said.
The Asia/Pacific region seems to still have the highest growth potential, he added, and more multinational corporations continue investments in labs for packaging inks.
Inksolutions provides waxes and additives to its US-based customers in the vehicles, overprint varnishes and carbon black dispersions markets. For its part, VP of sales John Jilek Jr. said the company has seen a lot of larger heatset manufacturers move towards micro waxes over PTFE for cost savings.
“PTFE ultimately performs better,” he said. “However, in today’s HS market, printers and their customers lean on price over performance. On the coating side we see interest in specialty waxes that can provide a unique attribute to coatings.”
Ink customers often need products to perform in demanding environments. As such, waxes and additives suppliers work with these customers to provide innovative solutions to meet trying requirements.
John McAllister, director of sales/US & Canada at Micro Powders, Inc., said that his company’s printing ink customers place a high value on product quality, technical service and competitive pricing. “We have developed a wide range of micronized, dispersion and emulsion wax additives that cover the spectrum of problem solving. Improving ink performance without adding to formulation cost is a goal that can be achieved through additive efficiency,” he said.
David Grabacki, president of keim additec surface USA, said that high performance is the key focus for keim’s customers in this market. “That is followed by cost efficiency, supply chain sustainability, and compliance with an ever-restrictive regulatory environment,” he said.
Vaughn, of Emerald, added that economics and regulatory concerns tend to dominate the most important requirements in the graphic arts industry. “Following these ‘must-haves’, technical requirements of importance in the industry include clarity, abrasion/scuff/mar, and printability on a variety of substrates – polymer, corrugated, glass etc.,” she said. “As a result, it is important for formulators to strive for a balance of key performance features and economy. Emerald has focused on expanding the range of additives we offer as formulators’ performance needs have evolved: defoamers offering easier incorporation and handling, with wide compatibility and maximum persistence at low dosage; silicone additives with enhanced slip and mar resistance in water-based printing inks; and low-VOC coalescents with full FDA approvals that maximize efficiency in flexographic inks and waterborne OPV applications.”
Trends, Regulations and Challenges
The waxes and additives market is susceptible to not only regulations, but also end-user preferences. Keim’s Grabacki said that the number one trend for this market is increasing requirements for regulatory needs, such as VOC-free, amine-free and direct food contact status.
“Unfortunately even in the EU, we are facing more national instead of less/harmonized regulations in the future,” he said. “So on the one side our SHE-department gets even more workload to go through the legislations and giving our customers proper answers to their questions; on the other hand, this opens up new doors for our environmentally friendly additives, with which we have long term experience. Last but not least, due to the fact that our production plant in Germany is located in a water protection area, the use of problematic ingredients was prohibited from the early beginning.”
Consolidation is a major trend for suppliers and ink manufacturers alike. Jerry Trauth, product manager for wax and ink applications at Kustom Group, noted that the compnay’s acquisition of Lubrizol’s wax compound, ink vehicle, and litho overprint product lines is an example of market consolidation.
“In this acquisition, Kustom Group has acquired all of the associated Lubrizol formulations and processing equipment for these product lines,” Trauth said. “As we have done with our acquisitions of Varchem and Lawter, our commitment to our customers is continued supply, service and support of products and formulations they have come to trust over the years.”
Micro Powders’ McAllister said that new designs in consumer packaging place high demands on printing inks and coatings with regard to appearance, surface feel and utility. “This evolution in design creates an opportunity for the wax industry to offer innovative products to meet those formulating challenges,” he said.
New applications have generated a more diverse market with an expanding variety of performance needs, according to Emerald’s Vaughn. “Packaging markets increasingly utilize energy-curable and inkjet products expanding range of available product technologies and creating new markets for our additives,” she said.
Vaughn said that the major challenges faced by formulators are largely dictated by meeting both economic and regulatory challenges while providing the needed performance.
“For example,” she said, “products incorporated into food packaging have seen recent challenges related to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and other regulations, as well as concerns regarding the migration of components from packaging – such as ink, coatings and adhesives. Emerald has worked with customers to determine their needs with regards to performance while also helping them to meet all the relevant food-grade regulations. As a result of these efforts, we have continued to focus on developing new products with the requisite performance benefits, while also ensuring these products meet the needed criteria for regulations.”
Trauth said that a current challenge to the whole industry will be meeting the OSHA 2012 GHS guidelines deadline of June 1st.
“Everyone has the same deadline so the higher you are up the food chain, the closer you will be to the deadline before you get the information needed to develop your own SDS’s,” Trauth said.
He also noted that the move away from oil-based ink is another challenge for the industry.
“We continue to observe the disturbing trend of suppliers moving out of the oil-base litho ink market,” Trauth noted. “While this market has certainly trended down over the past few years, and will continue to fight to maintain market share, we still see plenty of offset presses running oil-base ink. “
The ink industry at large is exceptionally sensitive to raw material price fluctuations, and waxes and additives are no exception. According to Vaughn, while the price of oil may have declined in recent years, the same cannot be said of pigments and the many specialty chemicals which are utilized to produce waxes and additives – which typically have been stable or showed modest increases. “A notable exception has been carnauba wax, which has increased sharply,” she said.
Kustom Group’s Trauth added that 2014 has been a year of improved raw material stability. “Although, availability with some raw materials has been unpredictable,” he said. “Prices seem stable for now, although reduced capacity at refineries is a concern for the wax market.”
Shamrock’s Choo said that the impact of the lower oil prices and currency fluctuations have posed recent challenges. “Raw materials based on oil have seen improved cost positions, but that has not translated into actual better costs for various reasons,” he said.
“Buyers in Europe and Japan may see their oil-based reductions offset by the forex if they are sourcing from overseas. On the other hand, buyers in the US have the most to gain if they are sourcing from the EU or Asia, but then again, this may be a temporary window. Supply has stabilized in recent years, and look to be that way for the near term,” he added.
According to Grabacki of keim, keeping ahead of the global regulatory aspects is the most challenging aspect of this market. “There have been efforts to globally harmonize some regulations, but many differences remain – even within Europe. Secondly, cost efficiency and in-use effectiveness are required,” he said.
“Even though there is price pressure on the wax additives, typically the wax additive cost is not decisive for the overall formulation, so this influence is not too strong. However, as the availability of basic raw materials is also influenced by additional factors, we are ongoing in our efforts for an increased backward-integration of the raw materials used for the production of our additives.”
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