By Dave Savastano, Editor | November 27, 2013

During the 2013 NPIRI Technical Conference, new honorees Greg Webb of MeadWestvaco, third from left, and Gerald Napiecek of Colorcon, No-Tox Products, second from right, are joined by past honorees, from left, Michael Gerkin of Kustom Group, Jon Graunke of INX International Ink, Dan DeLegge of Inksolutions, Diane Parisi of Flint Group, Maurice Carruthers of Sun Chemical, Lisa Fine of Joules Angstrom U.V. Printing Inks, Andrew Matthews of Flint Group, Joon Choo of Shamrock Technologies and Joe Cichon of INX International Ink. Keeping up to date on technology and trends is critical for any business, and the ink industry is no exception. In order to provide ink industry leaders the information they need on technology and growing markets, the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) annual National Printing Ink Research Institute (NPIRI) Technical Conference offers a wide variety of educational and networking opportunities.

This year’s Technical Conference was no exception. With an eye on key topics such as packaging, regulations and new technologies such as conductive inks, this year’s NPIRI Technical Conference, which was held Oct. 2-4 at the Hilton Chicago – Indian Lakes Resort, offered attendees the information they may need to keep their businesses growing.

Jeff Wettersten of Karstedt Partners discussed the packaging market with his Oct. 2 keynote talk on “Packaging: Evaluation of Vertical Markets and Key Applications.”

“The packaging industry is in the midst of a major transformation,” Mr. Wettersten said. “Digital printing is a disruptive technology, and the money invested into digital by major companies is fantastic.”

Brad Bergey, executive director of NAPIM, followed with “State of the Industry,” a recap of the past year’s results for the ink industry, as well as add new information on the early results for 2013. Diane Parisi of Flint Group analyzed “Printing Ink Raw Materials Supply Update,” offering her insights into the cost and supply trends for many key raw materials, including titanium dioxide, nitrocellulose, acrylic acid, vegetable and petroleum oil products and pigments.

“In 2012, raw material costs stabilized, but at high levels,” Ms. Parisi said.

However, 2013 is another story. In particular, crude oil, gum rosin, titanium dioxide, nitrocellulose and pigments are of concern. For example, in 2011, gum rosin prices soared to $3,510 per metric ton, but retreated to $1,520 in 2012. Now it is $2,350, and it could go higher.

“Gum rosin stocks are relatively low for this time of year, which is very reminiscent of 2011,” Ms. Parisi said.

“There has been significant 3Q developments in crude oil, gum rosin and pigments,” Ms. Parisi concluded. “The supply base continues to consolidate, and environmental regulations and European legislation will have effects.”

The Oct. 2 session concluded with a two-and-a-half-hour reception, including Tabletop exhibits and Supplier Spotlights.

Concurrent Sessions

As has been traditional, the second day broke into a pair of concurrent sessions.

Track 1 began with Evonik Industries’ Charles Douglas, who presented the NPIRI Lecture Series winning presentation, “Silica Nanoparticle Composites for Optically Transparent UV-Curable Hybrid Formulations. Mr. Douglas reported that synergistic effects can occur by combining free radical and cationic curing, which may offer advantages.

“Applications for scratch abrasion resistant coatings include electronics, automotive, cell phones, touch pads, optics and solar cells,” Mr. Douglas said.

Rick Pomeranka of Printron discussed “Available Printing Plate Options and How They Affect The Print Image Discussion,” a presentation on available print plate options. Flint Group’s Grant Shouldice was next with “Advances in Energy Curable Printing Inks for Alternative Energy Source,” a look at alternative sources of light energy, including LED and HW (high wave), and their market potential.

Brett Beauregard, Huntsman, discussed “TiO2 Selection Criteria,” and how choosing the appropriate TiO2 can have a significant performance impact on the formulation. Charlie Hsu, BASF, closed Track 1 with “A Chemical Resistant, Two-Pack Water-Based Ink System.”

“The market needs an ink that is safer to handle and has a longer pot life,” Mr. Hsu noted. “We are developing a low toxicity carbodiimide crosslinker to replace polyaziridine in water-based ink systems, and then designing an emulsion polymer specifically for PCDI crosslinkers.”

Track 2 analyzed regulatory issues, beginning with Catherine Nielsen, Keller and Heckman, who discussed “Food Packaging Regulations and the Printing Ink Manufacturer,” a look at how the Federal Food and Drug Administration and European regulations apply to food packaging and what that means for ink manufacturers, substrate suppliers and printers.

“There is no harmonized legislation in the European Union regarding packaging inks,” Ms. Nielsen noted. “Companies have to look up individual member states, the Swiss Ordinance and the pending German ordinance.”

“Risk Analysis in the Global Food Contact Supply Chain – An Industry Perspective,” presented by Jim Huang, Bemis, talked about how the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and the Global Food Safety Initiative has created new regulatory challenges for the converting industry and its suppliers.

“It would make sense if there was a harmonized standard,” Mr. Huang said.

“Regulatory Update for Ink Manufacturers,” by Cheryl Falvey, Crowell & Moring LLP, provided an overview on new, pending and existing regulations affecting the ink manufacturers. “Sustainability Drivers,” discussed by Jeff Wooster, Dow Chemical Company, offered insights into sustainability. Jon Hellerstein, MWV, concluded Track 2 with “GHS Implementation 2013,” an overview on GHS.

The second day concluded with the annual Golf Outing, Reception & Awards Dinner in conjunction with NAPIM’s Open Board Dinner. NAPIM presented the prestigious Technical Achievement Award to Gerald Napiecek of Colorcon, No-Tox Products, and the Technical Associate Member Service Award to Greg Webb of Mead Westvaco.

New Technologies

The NPIRI Technical Conference concluded its program on Oct. 4 with a look at important new technologies in equipment, packaging, color control and conductive inks.

Tom Dunn, Flexpacknology, opened this session with “Good Manufacturing Practices and the Food Packaging Supply Chain.” Mark Bohan, Printing Industries of America, followed with “New Press Technology,” a look at how innovative technologies are changing the way customers print.

“Packaging is the part of the system that delivers food safely,” Mr. Dunn said. “If you’re printing food packaging, the requirements are clear-cut, but compliance is problematic. You’d better be sure.”

“Printing technologies all have their place,” Mr. Bohan noted. “Offset is all about productivity.”

“The Conductive Ink Panel,” which I led, was next on the schedule. Printed electronics are reaching commercialization, and selecting the right material for conductive inks is critical. I was joined on the panel by Darren Bianchi, president of NanoGap USA, and Richard Morris, business development, Saxby Business Development, representing Si-Cal Inc., PChem Associates and TouchCode.

“Nanoparticle-based inks for printed electronics have been one of the many over-hyped areas of nanotechnology, with the market growth failing to meet expectations over the last 10-20 years,” Mr. Bianchi concluded. “However, there are now good signs on the commercial uptake of nanoparticle-based inks.”

Mr. Morris spoke of the benefits of nano inks, such as lower cost, more efficient use of metals, material reduction, process advantage and lower processing temperature, which allows for lower cost substrates, including PVC. Nano inks provide finer resolution and less that 25 micron features. He also showed some new products in the field, including the EKG Glove.

Tucker McNeil, MWV, then offered his insights into “Packaging Satisfaction Survey.” Mr. McNeil offered a few examples of innovative, successful packaging, including Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop! Pop Up Bowl, SPAM Singles, Gemey-Maybelline – Instant Foundation and iD Chewing Gum from Stride. Brian Ashe, X-Rite, Inc., closed the conference with “Color in a Digital World,” a demonstration of color in the digital age though the use of the Cloud.

Overall, NAPIM officials were pleased with the conference.

“The 2013 NPIRI Technical Conference was one of our most exciting and successful events,” said George Fuchs, NAPIM’s director, regulatory affairs and technology. “We feel that this year’s registration was especially strong because of the quality of the business, technical and regulatory presentations. In addition, our industry awards dinner on Oct. 3 was attended by more than 150 ink manufacturers and suppliers, and is continuing its reputation for being the most exciting, fun and interesting social event of the year for our industry. We are thrilled with the enthusiasm and high level of interest that this conference continues to generate.”

(Ink World)