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Opportunities, challenges and trends in the global digital printing ink industry!


1. Overview of global development

The history of digital printing can be traced back to 1884. The American C•H•Richard put water in the syringe and squeezed the tip of the needle to fly out droplets. He was inspired by this. If the fly out of the liquid is charged, use electricity to control it. The drop point can form an image on paper, which is called fog ink printing. In 1972, Siemens introduced the piezoelectric drop-on-demand inkjet technology, which enabled the development of inkjet technology to enter a practical stage of controllable and on-demand inkjet. In 1979, Canon introduced thermal foaming drop-on-demand inkjet technology. In 1984, HP also introduced similar thermal foaming drop-on-demand inkjet technology. Then there appeared Epson’s Micro Piezo technology, HP’s Fureto technology, CANON’s FINE technology, and so on. In recent years, many manufacturers have introduced new inkjet heads, such as Toshiba CA4 inkjet heads, Fuji Dimatix’s M series inkjet head arrays, Panasonic inkjet head arrays, etc., which have been applied in inkjet printing equipment and other fields.

Digital inkjet printing has now become the industry’s recognized focus of the development of the digital printing industry. In the North American market, which accounts for half of the total global printing scale, its inkjet printing revenue accounts for more than 70% of the annual revenue. It is estimated that the total scale of the inkjet printing market will reach 90.3 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. In the next 10 years, inkjet printing technology will be comparable to traditional printing technology in terms of print quality, printing speed and production cost. , Leading the future development trend of the printing industry. With the vigorous development of the inkjet printing market, the sales of inkjet printing inks have also maintained continuous growth. According to statistics, the global sales of inkjet printing inks in 2018 were about 182,900 tons, or about 4.889 billion U.S. dollars, and will continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.7% in the future. Continue to expand within 5 years.
At present, water-based inks and solvent-based inks still dominate the printing ink market. However, with the continuous development of the UV ink market and the continuous improvement of environmental protection requirements for printing inks, UV inks will inevitably develop rapidly. The share has been continuously improved.
Chart 1 The main application areas of the digital printing industry

2. Overview of domestic development

Jet printing ink is a high-end fine chemical product. Due to foreign monopoly on nozzle and ink technology, my country has been relying on matching inks from imported equipment before 2000, and the development of domestic inks, especially high-end functional inks, is lagging behind. my country’s ink jet printing industry has mainly experienced the following stages of development:
Before 2000, it was a stage of complete dependence on imports. At this stage, although inkjet-type engineering CAD plotters, color inkjet printers, and household inkjet printers below 300DPI have appeared in China, all inks were imported. The higher prices of imported inks provide domestic companies concerned about the future development of inkjet technology with a historical opportunity to develop the national inkjet ink industry.
From 2000 to 2010, domestic ink products entered the market one after another, gradually replacing foreign products. At this stage, inkjet technology has begun to be widely used in office printing, advertising inkjet, digital imaging, and digital pre-printing proofing. In these fields, there have been many ink production companies focusing on office inkjet inks, inkjet inks, or digital imaging inks. After these ink manufacturers entered the digital printing market, they insisted on their own advantages in the application direction and achieved rapid development. By 2010, the inkjet printing market in the office printing field has formed a situation dominated by domestic inks; in the field of digital imaging, domestic inks and imported inks have been contending for a long time; in the fields of digital printing and digital printing, domestic inks have gradually emerged. Replace the situation of imported ink. After 2010, my country has entered a stage of completely replacing imported inks, and domestic inks insisted on independent innovation. Many functional indicators have reached or surpassed imported inks, which not only met domestic needs, but also began to export inks in batches to other countries. At this stage, the application of inkjet technology began to enter the industrial field, from the advertising industry and the imaging industry to the textile printing industry, packaging and publication digital printing industry, building decoration materials and other industries. Domestic inks have gradually entered the international market due to their low cost, good quality, and innovative functions. China has become one of the most important ink exporting countries in the world.

3. Industry development opportunities

(1) Support of industrial policies
The digital printing technology and material industry is a strategic emerging industry that is strongly encouraged by the state, local governments and other relevant departments. At present, various industrial printing industries in my country have many problems in energy consumption and pollution discharge. Digital inkjet printing technology has the advantages of green and clean production technology such as reducing artificial energy consumption and reducing pollution and waste discharge, which is in line with the country’s energy-saving and reduction The guidance requirements of the new generation of information technology and high-end equipment manufacturing industries. A series of national, local and industry policies including the “Thirteenth Five-Year” National Strategic Emerging Industry Development Plan, the “Thirteenth Five-Year Development Plan of the Printing Industry”, and the “Guidelines for the Development of Key Common Technologies in the Industry (2017)” The launch provides strong policy support and institutional guarantees for the healthy development of the digital printing industry, and brings good development opportunities.
(2) Continuous expansion of application areas
With the development of the national economy and the further popularization of digital products and digital production methods, digital production methods will become an important development direction for various industries. In addition to traditional office printing applications, digital inkjet printing technology is more and more widely used in textile printing, Advertising images, packaging and publishing, architectural decoration, electronic circuits, craft decoration, food and medical, aerospace and many other industrial fields. As digital inkjet printing technology is more widely used, the demand for digital inkjet printing from more and different types of users will increase significantly. In the future, digital inkjet printing technology will continue to develop in the direction of energy saving, environmental protection, functional enhancement, and adaptation to the broader digital printing field, and the market scale of digital inkjet printing will be further improved.

4. Challenges

(1) The market competition is fierce, and the disordered competition situation is obvious
Restricted by technical level and R&D capabilities, most domestic manufacturers of digital printing functional materials are still in the low-end product market, and low-price competition, patent infringement, etc. disrupt the market order from time to time. Some small manufacturers with low technical level and low capital investment have impacted the market with low quality and low investment in environmental protection. The industry market still shows a trend of disorderly competition. For the domestic digital printing functional material industry The healthy development of the country has formed a certain adverse effect.
(2) There is a certain gap with the development of foreign industries
Digital inkjet printing technology has been implemented earlier in Europe, North America and other regions. It has been applied to various industrial fields on a large scale. It generally exhibits the characteristics of high technical level, wide application range and obvious brand advantages. Compared with the small and medium-sized industries in my country Enterprises have obvious competitive advantages. At the same time, digital inkjet printing technology is based on the interaction of key technologies such as digital inkjet printing inks, equipment, nozzles, motherboard systems and substrate media, and a high degree of adaptation relationship between key technologies must be maintained. At present, the core technology of digital print head products is still monopolized by a few manufacturers in Europe, America, Japan, etc., which restricts the overall development of domestic digital print technology to a certain extent.
5. Industry characteristics and development trends

At present, digital inkjet printing technology has been popularized and applied in many industrial production applications, and has gradually become the dominant technology in industrial printing production. At present, the development of the digital printing functional material industry presents the following development trends:
(1) Development of ink for textiles to higher quality
The fastest growing field in the downstream industry of digital printing is textile printing, and today’s textile inks need to meet faster printing speeds, fuller color requirements, and higher cost-effective requirements. Based on this, ink technology is more inclined to high-quality processing of color materials, such as high-efficiency grinding of disperse dyes, and color paste grinding technology of water-based pigments.
(2) Water-based latex ink has become the main direction of future development
At present, people are paying more and more attention to environmental protection, and the same is true for inkjet inks. Its environmental protection has become one of the important indicators of whether it can enter the market. In the future, ink will develop in a direction that is harmless to the human body and friendly to the environment. The binder in the latex ink solution can make the durability of water-based ink on non-coated paper substrates the same as that achieved by solvent-based or energy-curable inks, but it is more environmentally friendly in comparison , Is the main direction of the future development of digital inkjet ink technology.
(3) The target user group will be more refined, and ink and application solutions will be applied to more fields
As inkjet printing is more widely used, more users with different needs will join the inkjet user group. Inkjet inks need to consider more functional requirements. The selection, synthesis and application of various functional materials has become particularly important, and it is also an important cornerstone for future technological development.
(4) The adaptability to different materials will continue to increase, and energy-curable inks will be developed by leaps and bounds
Digital inkjet printing needs to be matched with suitable printing media to achieve higher printing quality, but a single type of ink is difficult to adapt to various types of media, especially on some media without absorbing coatings. This weakness greatly limits the application range of inkjet printing. At present, energy curable inks such as UV-LED curable ink, EB curable ink and hybrid UV curable ink have instant drying capabilities, making them suitable for various printing media. Therefore, energy-curable ink is a solution to enhance the adaptability of ink to different materials, and it is also one of the development directions of ink in the future.
In fact, why digital printing technology has been in the country for a long time but has not developed very quickly. One of the important points is that the ink cost is too high. The high cost will increase the price, so because of the price The technology is relatively high, but the technology is not perfect, and the market has not developed very well, but now the digital printing technology is perfect, the cost is reduced and the advantages are obvious, and the development of digital printing is getting faster.
As a manufacturer of digital printing, our company also believes and hopes that digital printing can get better and better.

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