Wide format inkjet printer manufacturer Mutoh Belgium nv announces immediate availability of its new Bio-Lactite™ inks, which were first presented at the past Fespa 2010 show in Munich, Germany. Mutoh’s new Bio-Lactite™ ink is a renewable resource based ink – made from corn – capable of printing on both flexible and rigid materials.
“Our new organic Bio-Lactite inks are the result of Mutoh’s ongoing commitment to develop sustainable and environmentally friendly printing solutions for both installed base Mutoh users and new users”, says Arthur Vanhoutte, President of Mutoh’s European operations.
“The inks will offer print providers a sustainable print solution that will enable them to reduce the entire environmental footprint of their daily production. The new Bio-Lactite inks will enable users to explore green output on recyclable media whilst keeping the performance features of typical solvent-based inks and keeping an efficient energy consumption. The ink’s attractive price setting will furthermore enable printer users to reduce their cost for print figures. Last but not least, Mutoh’s award-winning and so far unrivalled Intelligent Interweaving print technology will avoid trial and error printing and therefore reduce media waste”, Vanhoutte concludes.
The new Bio-Lactite™ ink is compatible with Mutoh Rockhopper 3 Extreme roll printers and the Mutoh ValueJet Hybrid roll to roll and rigid printer. Available in 220 & 440 ml cassettes, 880 ml bags and in litre bottles, the inks will be marketed all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa through Mutoh’s authorised distributor channel.
Key Characteristics of Mutoh Bio-Lactite™ Inks
Ink Composition & Safety Aspects
Mutoh’s Bio Lactite™ inks are non-petrochemical based inks. 50 % of the inks is ethyl-lactate, a component which is derived from corn.
The inks do not spread any harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in the working environment and therefore do not require any forced or special ventilation.
Non ODP inks (non Ozone DePleting), meaning the inks do not contain products which are considered as harmful to the earth's protective ozone layer.
Rapid drying; no external drying equipment is required to dry the inks.
Inks are fixed and dried at regular heating temperatures. For roll printing, only 600 W is consumed during printing.
Wide colour gamut with unique media gloss preservation.
Low maintenance – same ease of use as Mutoh Eco Ultra inks.
Unique Ink Fixation Process
Selected binders contained in the Bio-Lactite™ inks ensure an optimized chemical interaction among the pigments and the media surface.
For roll media, the ink is fixed and dried by the printer’s conventional integrated heating elements.
For rigid media printing and for insulating roll media such as polypropylene, Mutoh proprietary rapid response heated air knives (ValueJet Hybrid only) deliver instant heating from the top, fixing and drying the ink.
Mutoh Bio-Lactite™ inks are suited for both roll and rigid printing.
Unlike other “green” inks, the unique ink formulation of Mutoh Bio-Lactite™ inks, specifically tuned to piezo drop-on-demand inkjet head technology, will enable printing on a wide range of conventional solvent-compatible media.
The inks will also be the obvious choice for customers demanding “green output” on recyclable media and for high quality direct printing on “exotic” media not typically intended for inkjet printing.
Suited for 3D wrap applications and for unique thermo-deformation applications.
For high quality prints for close viewing distances (< 1 meter), typical production speeds of 9 m² per hour at 720 x 720 dpi can be reached on flexible substrates. For rigid substrates, speeds of 8 m²/h at 720 x 720 dpi can be reached.
Outdoor durability of up to two years, without lamination. For fleet, floor graphics or other applications where prints are exposed to intensive mechanical stress or abrasion, lamination is recommended.
220 ml cassettes
440 ml cassettes
880 ml bags (for ValueJet Hybrid only)
1 litre bottles (for use in combination with Mutoh’s bulk ink system).
About Mutoh’s Bulk Ink System (BIS)
Mutoh’s BIS system was developed for speed-intensive, volume oriented users that require a high-volume ink delivery and refill system. The bulk ink system can be easily mounted on top of the printer.
EFI, a world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation, today announced a new ink for its VUTEk GS5000r five-metre roll-to-roll digital printer. With EFI’s new ink, co-branded with and qualified by 3M, output from the GS5000r, on 3M media, will meet the requirements of the 3M™ MCS™ Warranty, the premier graphics guarantee in the industry. EFI VUTEk customers will be able to print the same applications they provide today, plus an extended range of applications offered by 3M’s materials, including long-term signage and fleet graphics, as well as reflective applications. The new ink is currently scheduled for commercial release in Q4 2010.
“EFI places a strong emphasis on making our customer’s business successful. As a result of the collaboration between EFI and 3M, this new ink set will help eligible customers create output covered by a best-in-class warranty, which will give our customers a differentiation against the competition,” said EFI President Fred Rosenzweig. “Adding a new 3M qualified ink set to our product portfolio is a great opportunity to showcase our strong partnership.”
“3M and EFI have worked together on piezo inkjet solutions since the mid-1990s. We are excited to announce this new ink as a result of our collaboration, as well as the extension of the 3M MCS Warranty to VUTEk GS5000r output produced with the new ink, 3M media, and applied according to 3M technical literature,” said Vice President of 3M Commercial Graphics Division, Bob Doughty.
The MCS™ Warranty covers defects in finished graphics’ appearance for up to four years outdoors, including discoloration, fading, cracking, peeling, and other defects that make the graphics unsuitable for their intended purpose and up to five years for vehicle graphics. These inks also come with an extended shelf life of 15 months. The new inks match the high standards of EFI’s current ink set in terms of adhesion and colour gamut, and are highly flexible with noticeably lower odour than other UV inks. Warranty-qualifying output will be shown in EFI’s booth (#413) at the 2010 SGIA Expo in Las Vegas (October 13-16), with side-by-side comparative samples.
As with many Councils around the UK and Ireland, Dublin City Council has faced major challenges in recent months trying to make cost savings whilst maintaining quality. After some consideration it has installed Triangle Inks’ Digital Mild Solvent inks in its Roland Versacamm.
Dublin City Council realised that there were big savings to be made on ink cartridges by switching to Triangle Inks but its main priority was to ensure the quality it was getting from its original Roland cartridges was met. Josero, the sole distributor in the UK and Ireland of Triangle inks and its local dealer in Ireland, Trimwel Ltd, worked with the City Council to carry out rigorous tests to make sure the quality was up to standard.
Nick Little, Sales Director for Trimwel said, “We knew the quality would not be an issue as we have installed Triangle inks in many Rolands, Mimakis and Mutohs over the past year and we know our customer base is very happy. What we were really impressed with was the support from Josero. They sent their Director of Sales to Ireland to work with the Council to ensure everything ran smoothly and to manage the changeover. Triangle Inks has a simple approach to the way it sells its inks all over the world, which is quality at a competitive price. Trimwel has taken this approach and Dublin City Council is now making savings of 40%."
Triangle Inks became a REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of CHemicals) pre-registered Green Business in April 2008. REACH Certification will become compulsory for all ink manufacturers in 2012 and this certification will ensure that all certified comply with strict rules to make sure their inks are environmentally friendly.
Director of Sales at Josero, Gareth McDonald, commented, “We’re delighted that Triangle inks has helped Dublin City Council to save money and hope that others will see the benefit of switching to a quality alternative ink supplier who will match the reliability and service provided by OEMs, whilst offering significant cost savings.”
The introduction by Roland of its metallic ink into dedicated print-and-cut systems has been welcomed by companies wanting to extend their product offerings within the sign, display and specialist digital sectors. Both the original SolJet Pro III XC-540MT and the more recent VersaCAMM VS-640 have been designed and manufactured specifically to incorporate this important new addition, as well as white, making them integral and reliable elements within these wide-format systems.
Roland recognised that in order to remain competitive, its customers from all sectors needed to offer fresh and innovative ideas to their end users. The addition of wide-format print-and-cut solutions designed to handle metallic and white ink formulations has resulted in a new breed of applications which benefits from the broad palette of more than 500 vivid, glittering colours as well as a highly opaque white.
The first company to invest in the Roland VersaCAMM VS-640 was Reddhart Graphics, who signed the order immediately after this machine was launched in the spring. Purchased from Roland specialist reseller PrintMAX, this solution's metallic option was instantly acknowledged as being vital to the Essex-based print service provider's growth plans.
Reddhart Graphics supplies a broad range of print-related services, including offset litho, including a vast array of wide-format output ranging from point-of-sale materials, through displays and posters, to more unusual jobs such as guitar wraps. Managing Partner, Steve Hart, believes firmly that the compact and versatile print-and-cut VersaCAMM VS-640 was the right machine to drive his company forward into more innovative applications, with the addition of metallic and white inks adding to the high quality of its CMYKLcLm eco-solvent inks.
"The quality is pretty amazing," explains Hart. "And it's all the more so when you consider that it's coming from a 1.6 m wide-format printer. Some of our clients are especially sensitive to colour accuracy but the VS-640 satisfies them. We produce posters and point-of-sale graphics for make-up brands where skin tones and colour have to be spot on."
Unattended production has proved to be another bonus for Reddhart Graphics. The company can leave a job running with the knowledge that, when it is complete, Roland's integrated OnSupport system will send out an e-mail notification to a remote computer or mobile phone. This feature also reports status updates, such as ink-low warnings, as Hart confirms. "This is a remarkable development in my opinion," he says. "Overnight production is routine now; it really works wonders for us when we have delivery deadlines looming."
Another enterprising business to have gained instant rewards from the addition of metallic and white ink is Leeds-based Awesome Merchandise. Formed five years ago in a student bedroom, this company concentrates on the creation and production of badges, stickers, promotional items and displays and has grown to become one of Europe's largest producers of bespoke products.
Specialising in print runs from one-offs to hundreds of thousands, Awesome Merchandise uses a variety of creative techniques according to the type of job being produced. Whilst higher volumes are catered for using offset litho or screen-printing, the demand for smaller and personalised applications has driven the growing requirement for digital options. However, the installation of a Roland SolJet Pro III XC-540MT has also helped Awesome Merchandise by expanding the opportunities which can be turned into print.
"This new print-and-cut solution has helped us almost double our product range," claims managing director, Luke Hodson. "Its versatility and quality means we have been able to add many new products to our catalogue, including wide-format posters and billboards, custom-cut stickers and garment transfers."
Hodson opted for the 1.37 m Roland SolJet III XC-540MT not only for its metallic and white ink capabilities but, also, because it is an integrated print-and-cut machine. "This was our first wide-format purchase and, although there were cheaper options on the market, the Roland system was the only which really stood out," he says. "This investment means that we can be ever more creative in our offerings to customers and, in the future, we plan to open up new revenue streams, including vehicle wraps and graphics as well as point-of-sale applications."
Roland DG's technical director, Brett Newman, emphasises: "The use of metallics is here to stay and, with Roland technology, users are assured of absolute compatibility between printer and special ink formulations. These print-and-cut solutions are engineered specifically to accommodate both metallic and white inks to ensure that absolute consistency and quality are assured from the very first print onwards."
The Specialty Graphic Imaging Association's (SGIA) Expo always attracts a crowd and this year should be no exception. INX Digital International Co. has recognized this and supported both the event and industry, introducing new products that are relevant and timely to specialty imagers. INX Digital (booth #3249) will fortify its Gold sponsorship with the debut of two Green and environmentally conscious products when the SGIA Expo is held October 13-15 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
SGIA will mark the North American launch of Triangle ECO inks and the Eco Bulk ink delivery system. EDX is a new line of eco solvent inks and represents the first time INX Digital's Triangle brand has developed a colour and chemically compatible product for the alternative market. The dual compatibility allows users to perform cartridge-by-cartridge changeover without wasting ink, and new colour profiles are not required in order to obtain the same colour as OEM inks when printing. Designed for Roland printers with Epson DX4 print head technology, EDX is an extremely fast drying ink with low odour. Both HAPS- and TAPS-free, it offers a significant cost savings compared to OEM eco inks.
Eco Bulk is a new type of ink delivery system and a prime example of INX Digital's long-term commitment to developing sustainable products. As an integral part of INX Digital's Green recycling programme, it is easy to use and features a unique cardboard box design that consists of 100 percent recycled material.
Eco Bulk is comprised of one box instead of five, 440 ml cartridges, with the ink housed within a foil bag. Once emptied, the bag is disposed of and replaced, a more sustainable approach compared to plastic. The foil bag can contain up to two litres of ink, double the current industry standard of one litre packaging and resulting in less waste, but 440 ml cartridges will remain available for customers using less ink. A test programme showed that more volume allows for greater consistency of the product being delivered through the network.
In spite of the recession, inkjet ink companies continued to increase sales, although that growth was not as large as in previous years.
Inkjet printing has enjoyed excellent growth during the past decade. A look at how the mix between conventional and digital printing technologies has changed at major trade shows such as drupa and IPEX clearly shows this trend. Having taken a large chunk of the screen market, there is every indication that digital will soon take on conventional sheetfed printing.
Major inkjet press manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard, EFI and its subsidiaries VUTEk and Jetrion, Xeikon, Fujifilm, INX Digital and others are making major inroads in terms ofproductivity.
As a result, inkjet ink is a growth area, led by Fujifilm Sericol, Sun Chemical, EFI, Nazdar, INX Digital, Collins Ink and ImTech. In spite of the recession, inkjet ink companies reported that they had good years, although growth was not as explosive as printers found capital less easy to come by, thus curtailing some investment in new equipment.
Mitch Bode, general manager, Sericol Unit, Graphic Systems Division, Fujifilm North America Corporation, said that Fujifilm Sericol’s inkjet business grew modestly in 2009.
“We began to see a recovery in overall business climate in September 2009 and we’ve seen the demand for print has begun to improve over the last several months,” Mr. Bode said. “Fujifilm’s business reflects this trend, and we see it in our digital ink businesses.
“Sales of new inkjet printing equipment slowed in 2009; however, demand did improve in the later part of the year,” Mr. Bode added. “We attribute this sales increase to the economic recovery and increased demand in display graphics and promotional activity. Point of sales graphics are also improving along with the economy and consumer confidence continues to strengthen. We are not where we were before the economic downturn, but we are getting there as credit and financing begin to loosen up.”
Ken Kisner, president of INX Digital, also noted that the sales grew at the end of 2009.
“We were extremely pleased to see 2009 end on a strong note in November and December,” said Mr. Kisner. “We achieved market share gains in the alternative ink segment for the year as customers moved towards more cost effective output per square foot. The industry overall showed signs of weakness as did most segments of all industries, but the rebound that was experienced in late 2009 has carried over industry-wide through the first quarter of 2010.”
“Our sales grew again in 2009, and it marked the third year in a row that we appeared in the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Oregon by the Portland Business Journal,” said Les Faulds, director sales and marketing for ImTech, Inc. “Our OEM thermal inkjet print controller and ink sales nearly doubled. We released some new inks, including an excellent new PVC ink, as well as engaged new partnerships giving us access to new markets.”
“All in all, our business continues to do well,” said Lawrence Gamblin, president of Collins Ink. “We did well through the recession, and while our growth was small, we saw sales increases every year. This year our business is up, so life is good.”
Collins Ink acquired the inkjet ink business of Hexion Specialty Chemicals last year, which has worked out well for the company. “The Hexion purchase rounded out our product portfolio. It is still a relatively small part of our overall business, but it is growing,” Mr. Gamblin said.
Leading screen ink manufacturers like Fujifilm Sericol, Nazdar and Sun Chemical all have become heavily involved in the digital ink market as many of their customers bolstered their offerings to include digital printing. In the case of Nazdar, the company acquired Lyson, Ltd. in early 2006, and the decision proved to be a successful one for Nazdar.
“Nazdar’s solvent and UV-curable inkjet business continues to grow beyond expectations,” said Richard Bowles, vice president and general manager of Nazdar. “Several new ink developments and print service providers searching for more economical ink solutions have bolstered Nazdar’s inkjet business over the past 12 to 18 months.”
Impact of the Recession
For inkjet ink manufacturers, the global recession did take a bite out of growth, as areas such as advertising suffered.
“The digital ink field in general was not immune to the economic downturn,” Mr. Bowles said. “Wide format printing is often part of advertising and promotional campaigns. Many of these campaigns were put on hold or removed from budgets altogether.”
Mr. Bowles did note that Nazdar has seen signs of improvement beginning in Q1 of this year in the overall digital ink market.
“The key sign of improvement will be to sustain this momentum through the typically slow summer printing season and into Q3,” Mr. Bowles added.
“All areas of print felt the impact of the recession, however digital ink volumes showed a slower growth rate rather than a year-on-year decline,” Mr. Bode said.
“However, we are definitely beginning to see signs of improvement as the economy recovers and printers begin to invest in new digital print technologies.”
Mr. Bode reported that Fujifilm has seen customers who have taken advantage of the economy as a good time to invest in new technologies
“Using this strategy, those who are investing in new technologies now will be the ones who succeed in the future because they have positioned themselves for growth as the economy begins to bounce back,” Mr. Bode added. “For example, we recently sold two Inca Onset S70s into traditional screen and offset printing environments. The introduction of this printer into their businesses is going to enable them to offer their customers fast turnaround for short-run, on-demand orders for POP, retail display graphics and signage. These printers have placed themselves ahead of the curve as the demand for these types of orders steadily increases.”
Printed Electronics and Inkjet
Printed electronics is an area of opportunity for inkjet ink manufacturers.
“Printheads are becoming more robust and precise in their drop placement, and as a result, there will be more applications in printed electronics as well as life sciences Mr. Faulds said. “As fluids become more specialized to address new materials, printhead firing and material handling characteristics will require specialized engineering experience which is ImTech’s core competency.”
Mr. Kisner noted that INX Digital is not yet in the printed elctronics field, but it does seem to hold much promise.
“I wish we were because we get a phone call or two every week,” said Mr. Kisner. “It’s very interesting and I know there are many R & D companies working on formulations. One thing that INX Digital excels at is making consistent, high quality jettable fluids. If a toll manufacturing opportunity exists, I’d strongly consider it.”
Ink manufacturers are actively developing new products for the market. For example, ImTech is making key technical advances on both the hardware and consumable sides of its business.
“We are very close to launching an OEM print controller that manages multiple printheads,” Mr. Faulds said. “On the ink side, we continue to stay focused on specialty inks for particular markets. For example, our new PVC thermal inkjet ink is a very fast drying, dark color solvent ink that provides excellent print quality and eliminates the need for driers.”
“Nazdar is moving into the industrial and membrane switch UV digital sector with new inks specifically designed for applications such as glass, metals and plastics that can be bent and vacuum formed,” Mr. Bowles said.
Mr. Kisner said that INX and INX Digital green ink products are attracting plenty of excitement in the market.
“Developing products that reduce the impact on human health and the environment have a lot of appeal today, and we will continue to push on our end to produce more of these types of products,” Mr. Kisner added. “We will be launching our first textile ink at FESPA, and that has long been a goal of ours. We have a very strong feeling about the textile market for the future and this introduction will show our commitment to water based technology. Our companies are well known for solvent and UV technology and this adds a new dimension to our business focus. Our dedication to becoming more sustainable began 10 years ago and this introduction is just another step in that direction.”
Fujifilm has been active on the press side, notably its latest innovation in digital inkjet technology – the Fujifilm Inkjet Digital Press, which was demonstrated in action at IPEX 2010. The Fujifilm Inkjet Digital Press uses water-based inks and washes that are VOC-free, simplifying the de-inking process and increasing the potential for recycling. The Fujifilm Inkjet Digital Press also incorporates an infrared drying system which means no drying time is required after printing and sheets are immediately ready for finishing.
Opportunities for Inkjet
Having made tremendous strides in the traditional screen market, digital technologies are now poised to gain a larger foothold in the offset market.
“The advances in inkjet technology have put aggressive pressure on the silk screen industry over the last 10 years,” Mr. Kisner said. “With faster and more reliable printheads, coupled with the many advances in ink technology, we are now seeing increased pressure on gravure and offset printing. Regardless if it is textile, package printing or corrugated, the fact is digital printing is taking market share away from these groups and adding new capabilities that industries have not seen before.”
Mr. Faulds sees garments and brand authentication systems as opportunities for digital printing.
“We see good opportunities in the high-end garment market, where manufacturers are looking to reduce their production costs,” Mr. Faulds said. “Personalization is where inkjet will play. People want to create their own designs and inkjet is a powerful enabler. We also see more and more brand owners who are seeking to protect themselves and their supply chain through brand authentication and lot tracking strategies.”
Meanwhile, UV inkjet is continuing to grow, due primarily to its environmental and productivity advantages.
“There has been increasing demand for UV printers as this print technology replaces solvent inkjet printing,” Mr. Bode said. “This is being driven by the increased speed and productivity of UV as well as the ability to eliminate VOCs and reduce energy costs. We also see growth in inkjet to meet the need for more versioning, short-run, high-quality, on-demand printing that can be delivered fast, and in some cases can even accommodate same-day turnaround. These market shifts continue to drive the sales of our UV roll printers such as the Uvistar series, Fujifilm’s UV flatbed printers like the Acuity Advance HS, and the Inca Onset series, all of which are capable of producing high quality output at impressive speeds.
“We also predict that the continued advancement of speed and quality from digital inkjet press platforms will also spark advances in ink technology,” Mr. Bode noted. “New ink technologies will be developed that can penetrate new and different substrates, arming our customers with new and innovative ways to produce indoor and outdoor signage for virtually any application.”
“UV-curable ink continues to be a good source of growth for Nazdar as early-adopters move to third-party inks and hardware prices in general decline,” Mr. Bowles noted. “Grand format solvent is also a good opportunity as users look for inks that are an improvement in color gamut and performance compared to OEM offerings. Nazdar is also making significant investments in the wide format solvent market segment as well. This market is saturated with hardware that is coming out of warranty or currently out of warranty and users are looking for economical ink solutions.”
“The biggest development we are seeing is the introduction of many new four color inkjet printing presses,” Mr. Gamblin said. “The markets these printers are going after are the same markets that Collins has operated in for the past 20 years. It appears clear that the ink markets for these new printers are going to be different from traditional inkjet ink markets. Luckily, Collins’ business model appears to be well suited to meet the needs of these new customers and OEMs.”
Large Format Review provides daily breaking news on digital printer technology as used for commercial production of print for wide-format sign and display, dye-sublimation textile and fabric printing, packaging and industrial applications. We also cover 3D print and additive manufacturing.