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COUNTERING THE RISING COSTS OF INK

Monday, 06 October 2014 | By Gerry Mulvaney

 

By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

They say that there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes, but I would venture to suggest there’s another one – price increases! There have been noises coming out in recent months from the major ink and coating manufacturers about how their raw material costs have been going up.

It’s not just that they are expecting their costs to rise; they say that they have been going up for a while now and that they have absorbed them to date. This of course presages the next stage of the process when they will start to announce their own end user price increases aimed at their customers. You will forgive my slightly sceptical approach to their dilemma, but my former role as Managing Director of Litho Supplies Plc in the UK, exposed me to the same scenario on several occasions, with inks, plates and chemicals being subjected to the treatment.

It’s not that there is no truth in the arguments that the big manufacturers are putting forward. Much tighter environmental regulations affecting both India and China where many of the pigments are sourced or manufactured are having the effect of putting more cost into the manufacturing process.

The cost of Gum Rosin, a key component of many inks, has also risen substantially since the middle of last year and of course transport costs throughout the supply chain. In particular this affects the end user who in these straitened times keeps minimal stocks and orders on a JIT basis.

My past experience has taught me that while announcing list price increases is the easy part, getting customers to accept them is like getting the proverbial blood out of a stone. Most customers will play one supplier off against another and while there is over capacity in the market, someone will always blink first and reduce or eliminate the planned increase.

Thinner Ink Images Make Your Wallet Fatter

Of course there will soon be another way to reduce ink prices and that’s to use a lot less of it while still getting the same colour density. I declare of course a vested interest, but when you look closely at Nanographic Printing® technology, you can see that it will impact significantly on the production costs for large offset printers with shorter run jobs.

Landa NanoInk<sup>®</sup> containers

Landa NanoInk® containers filled with ink concentrate

For a start it will not use plates to transfer the ink onto the blanket. Instead the ink is ejected to the blanket surface. Secondly we will be using a much thinner layer of ink – around 50% less than a comparable offset printed sheet, which will significantly impact the cost. And thirdly, our NanoInk® is supplied as a concentrate to which the users add their own water. This will have a substantial effect on delivery costs in the supply chain.

Now I am not saying that I don’t expect some hard negotiations with our customers on what we would like them to pay for our ink, but clearly with all the advantages that NanoInk brings to the process, there should be some scope for profit for both of us!

Landa S10 - Printing Press