By David Savastano, Editor | November 1, 2014

Waxes and additives suppliers are paying close attention to food packaging rules that are impacting ink makers.

Waxes and additives play a crucial role for printing inks, from improving runnability on the press to imparting key characteristics to the finished product.

Considering the ink industry has seen its best results in the packaging ink segment, the fact that suppliers of waxes and additives are seeing their strongest results in this market is understandable.

“The wax and additive worlds follow the market trends for print markets and the inks that service those markets,” said Rich Bradley, global market segment manager, print & packaging for Lubrizol Advanced Materials. “Strong performance in liquid ink packaging applications outperformed slower moving publication markets.”

“This year has been a good year for Micro Powders,” said Gary Strauss, president and chief operating officer of Micro Powders, Inc. (MPI). “Since MPI sells around the world, we are dealing with the global economy and some markets are certainly doing better than others. For us, the U.S. seems to be stronger than some other international markets.”

“In 2014, we have increased volume year-over-year with growth exceeding market growth rate and expectations,” said Julie Vaughn, vice president marketing for Emerald Performance Materials. “Defoamers, silicones and coalescents have also experienced better-than-market growth rates, benefitting from market need for low VOCs and higher performance products.”

John Erbeck, Emerald Specialties product manager – graphic arts, Emerald Performance Materials, said that the packaging and low migration markets are growing rapidly, with demand increasing in these segments.

“Emerald Performance Materials has positioned itself to supply new value-added products in water-based applications, energy cure and inkjet markets,” Erbeck noted.
Jerry Trauth, product manager ink applications at Kustom Group, said that Kustom Group has seen modest growth in our sales of waxes and additives in 2014.

“We continue to grow our product mix and promote our ability to offer products and technical service in all distinct chemistries, including UV/EB, LED, aqueous and oil-base,” Trauth noted. “This has been a valuable asset in helping our customers with their formulation needs. As a vehicle manufacturer, we do our best to help our customers optimize their ink formulations with the right vehicle selection. However, we also believe that an additive, when used correctly and at the proper percentage, can be the last part of the puzzle that helps push an ink to perform in a specific way that the printer requires without having to completely reformulate.”

“From our perspective and regarding the materials we are producing in our group, including solid and water-based wax additives as well as non wax-based specialty coating additives, we see the ‘traditional’ inks and coatings market in Europe as stable, while in North America and several Asian countries there is still an increasing demand for high quality coatings additives,” said David Grabacki, president of Keim Additec Surface USA.

Food Packaging

The packaging market is growing, with food packaging an important driver. However, food packaging has special requirements, for obvious reasons. Ink manufacturers are especially concerned with their ingredients.

As an example of the interest in food packaging, the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) covered the regulatory landscape for food packaging during the National Printing Ink Research Institute (NPIRI) Technical Conference in October. Speakers provided a U.S. and European perspective on this important issue.

Eric Greenberg of Eric F. Greenberg P.C., a food and drug lawyer, discussed “Inks on Food Packaging – Food for Thought.” Greenberg analyzed key standards such as Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS).

“If the ink on packaging gets into food, it is regulated like any other food additive, unless it is GRAS and is exempt from regulation as a food additive,” Greenberg said. “Food additives need clearance to be used as intended. Food is unsafe if it contains additives that lack clearance for that use, and therefore it is unlawful for sale.”

Janice Robinson of CEPE and the European Printing Ink Association (EuPIA) offered the European perspective on the food contact materials legislation in the EU, including the latest developments in Europe, such as Printing Inks for Food Contact Materials, the Swiss Ordinance and the coming German Ordinance for food packaging, as well as REACH and biocides. She noted that the European Commission is researching food contact, although no decisions have been reached, leaving nations to develop their own regulations.

“Paper and boards, varnishes and coatings and printing inks are the top priorities for food contact, but no legislation has come yet,” Robinson said.

The Swiss Ordinance requires that inks used for indirect food contact be manufactured according to Good Manufacturing Practices, and formulated exclusively from the positive list of ingredients. In addition, migration limits may not be exceeded in the final packed foodstuffs.

EuPIA played a role in the formation of the positive list, which includes five categories of substances: monomers, colorants, solvents, non-pigment additives and photoinitiators.

The German Ordinance is in its fifth draft, and has some significant differences, such as regulations for inks for non-intended direct food contact, such as napkins. Pigments, which are essentially nanoparticles, will not be classified as nanomaterials as long as there is no transfer to the food.

As for biocides, Robinson noted that ink manufacturers use biocides as in-can preservatives for water-based inks, and the number of preservatives are decreasing. REACH is also impacting ink manufacturers in terms of ingredients.

“Ink manufacturers have to reformulate when a substance is removed from the market or receives a more severe classification,” Robinson said.

Understandably, suppliers of waxes and additives are carefully watching these regulatory efforts.

“While aromatics, phthalates and other chemicals/additives are a growing concern to the packaging industry, this has not affected Shamrock since we do not use these types of materials in our products. With that being said, we continue to investigate any new regulatory changes,” said Craig Baudendistel, director of sales for Shamrock Technologies.
“We continue to work closely with our ink and coating customers around the globe to provide them with the information they need to verify low migration, FDA     compliance and other stringent food packaging safety initiatives,” said Rich Czarnecki, technical director at Micro Powders.

Bradley noted that regulatory issues continue to gain importance in the new product development cycle.

“The ability to understand the market specific requirements and formulate for longer term regulatory viability will be critical to our customer’s success in the future,” Bradley added.
Erbeck said that food packaging issues have been in the spotlight in The Wall Street Journal, BBC and other media, and many packaging processes and materials are being heavily scrutinized due to concerns such as migration of chemicals from plastic, cardboard and recycled cardboard packaging materials into food.

“For example, instances of contamination from chemicals have recently caused large multinational companies to recall cereals from their distribution channels,” Erbeck added. “As a result, we have seen an increase in regulatory issues, which influences the material selection of ink, coatings and adhesives used; raw materials such as certain mineral oils, resins, waxes and additives are being reviewed by the industry and regulating agencies.

Erbeck noted that Emerald’s team has spent time developing a thorough understanding of the issue and the changing regulatory climate: studies undertaken on migration and the mechanisms, evolving requirements of GFSI/FSMA and the EFSA standards in Europe and the testing protocols around migration in food packaging.

“We are also working with customers about the direction and approach they will take in addressing this issue to work in partnership to develop solutions” Erbeck added. “We have also developed new defoamers with broad FDA clearances and are developing new coalescents to address the migration issue.”

“Just in the last couple years, we have seen an enormous increase in the amount of interest in compliance and food packaging issues,” Trauth said. “It is extremely time consuming and a never ending ongoing process to stay current with these requirements, but Kustom Group is committed to this end of the packaging market. We announced earlier this year our new facility for GMP, and initial feedback from our customers has been positive. Other regulatory requirements are changing quickly, including new GHS Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and labeling requirements, along with REACH are on the horizon. To date, we are on track to meet the deadlines for these requirements.”

“By soon to be enacted food contact legislation or demands by multinational food companies, the usage of special raw materials will be strongly limited, like types of amines in inks or classical fat/grease repellant chemistry in barrier coatings like for fast food,” Grabacki noted.

“Even in the EU we are facing more national instead of less/harmonized regulations in the near future,” Grabacki added. “So on the one side our EHQS-department gets even more workload to go through the legislations and to give our customers proper answers to their questions. On the other hand, this opens new doors for our environmentally friendly additives, with which we have a long-term experience. Last but not least, due to the fact that our production plant in Germany in located in a water protection area, the use of problematic ingredients was prohibited from the early beginning. We have long-since anticipated and addressed many of these issues.”

New Waxes and Additives

To help the ink customers meet the needs of their end-users, waxes and additives manufacturers have developed a wide range of new products during the past year.

For example, Baudendistel said that Shamrock Technologies’ AquaFLON 52 PTFE dispersion has been developed for water-based flexo and gravure inks designed for pre-preg packaging applications. Besides exceptional rub and slip AquaFLON 52 yields high temperature resistance.

“We will be introducing a new line of additives targeted at improved regulatory compliance addressing global changes in materials restrictions currently on the horizon,” Bradley noted.

Keim-Additec is also active. “According to requests from the food industry for grease barrier coating formulations that are paraffin-free and fluorocarbon-free, we offer a concentrated ULTRASEAL W-980 K,” Grabacki said. “This product is a water-based wax-polymer formulation to be used as a basic compound for coatings on paper and board after combining with suited acrylic or latex binders, to increase the KIT-value of the substrate. Depending on the substrate and film-thickness, KIT-values of the coating of up to 12 can be achieved and the Ultralube W-980 K uses raw materials that comply with the requirements of; FDA 175.300, 176.170, 176.180, with German BfR XIV and XXXVI as well as many more.”

“We are very excited about our new MicroTouch aliphatic polyurethane beads,” McAllister said. “These spherical beads can be used to develop tactile properties ranging from rubbery soft to silky smooth. MicroTouch beads are very effective in reducing specular gloss and improving burnish and rub resistance in all types of inks and varnishes. PropylMatte 31HD is our new micronized high-density polypropylene wax specifically designed for gloss reduction in waterborne and energy cure formulations. With a density of 1.07g/cc, PropylMatte 31HD resists floatation resulting in improved in-can stability.”

Emerald continued to innovate in 2014, developing and expanding upon new product platforms.

“With the introduction of several new products this past year, Emerald has sought to bring features that offer valuable benefits to the end user,” Erbck said. “For example, inkjet is a fast moving and growing market, and Emerald Hilton Davis has launched its new line of water-based, self-dispersed pigments, Lucida Colors IJ, and continues to improve the Lucida Colors brand in the marketplace.

“We have developed a new technology platform of modified organosilicones, which has been the basis for several new products in the defoamer and silicone product lines,” Erbeck noted. “The first product in the SILMERA line of performance additives is an additive that provides exceptional slip and mar properties and defect-free films.  The FOAM BLAST line added two new products in October 2014, FOAM BLAST 4288 and FOAM BLAST 4011. FOAM BLAST 4288 offers the formulator a zero-VOC, APE-free, organomodified silicone-based product that provides superior foam control balanced with excellent compatibility. FOAM BLAST 4011 is designed for a broad range of use.”

Emerald also expanded its Kalama K-FLEX line of low-VOC non-phthalate, non-SVHC coalescents, as well as its Lucida Colors energy cure dispersions for flexo and offset printing inks.

Expectations for 2015

Heading into 2015, waxes and additives suppliers are optimistic, with expectations that the coming year will see similar gains and trends as 2014.

“We expect continued growth in packaging inks,” said Baudendistel. “We have a number of products for the formulator’s tool box to assist in this market segment.”
“We are very optimistic regarding business in the coming year,,” said John McAllister, director of sales, United States and Canada at Micro Powders, Inc. “There are new trends in consumer packaging and publication that are a good fit for our wax additive technology. Our product development team is always working hard developing products to address the newest trends in the marketplace.”

“The expectation for 2015 is basically a continuation of what we had in 2014 regarding the development of the different markets, especially in North America and Asia,” Grabacki said.

“We look forward to solving valuable problems for our customers that give them the opportunity to grow their business in 2015,” Bradley said.

“Growth expectations for 2015 look exceptional based on very favorable response to newly released products and new product concepts on the horizon,” Vaughn said. “These expectations are also driven by continued reformulation toward low- and zero-VOC systems, as well as ‘greener’ products such as our UV-cured technology Lucida Colors EC line and our low-VOC K-FLEX coalescents. In addition, we anticipate a continued rise in the requests for products that satisfy foreign and domestic regulatory requirements (FDA, Swiss Ordinance, Nestle List, etc.). As the industry truly becomes a global marketplace, the demands for products that comply around the globe have grown exponentially.”

“There will continue to be significant economic pressure on all the companies in our industry and further consolidation will likely continue to be the result, but many now understand the market we are in and have found ways to cope,” Trauth concluded. “Finding your strengths as a company and partners that you can count on will be more important than ever. We continue to remain optimistic about the future. We, like many others in our industry, need to be nimble in our approach to the market. There are parts of the graphic arts market that have stabilized and will be growing in the next 12 months.”

(Ink World)