New print systems and applications are driving ink suppliers to innovate.
• Nazdar continues to develop new ink-formulations in response to the evolving needs of its customers. “While our flagship UV ink products cover a very wide range of applications and substrates, we are finding more and more applications that are outside the scope of a general-purpose ink,” notes Dunklee. “We have responded with new ink lines or primers, depending on the market opportunity.” In late 2013, Nazdar launched two new Grand Format Solvent Digital Inks; Nazdar 517 and 518 Series inkjet inks. The 517 Series is designed for Xaar 128/126/Proton 36pl, Spectra Galaxy/Nova 128, Seiko 510 35pl, and Konica Minolta 42pl printheads; the 518 Series is designed for Spectra Skywalker, Spectra Polaris (solvent compatible), and Konica Minolta 14pl printheads.
• Fujifilm’s focus is “to develop more robust ink technology in all aspects of performance,” says Mitchell. “We are also developing inks that meet very specific application requirements.” Earlier this year, the company launched its Uvijet KA ink, a new alternative 4-color CMYK ink (plus white) for the company’s Acuity Series of printers. The Uvijet KA inks are designed to provide excellent adhesion, scratch resistance, and enhanced tolerance to marks caused by operator fingerprints or traces left by protective films. The new inks have exhibited excellent adhesion to acrylic, aluminum composite materials, fluted polypropylene (Correx), foam core, PETG, and styrene, Fujifilm reports.
• “Most of our customers really prefer the bulk systems Mimaki offers today,” says McGovern. He points out that benefits to end users include lower ink pricing based on higher volume packaging and a reduction in waste associated with disposing used plastic materials. The company’s emphasis on ink as a creative solution is also resonating with end users, he says – Mimaki has expanded its ink color offerings to include light magenta and cyan inks for some printer models, along with new orange and green colors for its latex water-based inks. White ink, McGovern notes, is now an option on most of its solvent, latex, and UV printers.
• Sun Chemical’s development team continues to focus on meeting and anticipating demands across wide format’s varied technology and market categories. “It’s a multi-faceted undertaking to formulate inks that are highly functional while delivering utmost quality, meet legislative requirements, and properly labeled so they be used in all countries,” notes Saunders. He says watch for introduction of SunJet aqueous inks in the next 18-24 months from SunJet. “We are always looking at advancements that we can make in the wide-format industry. We look at what our customers need and want, so we can plan projects and technology accordingly.”
The bright future of inkjet
“The wide-format inkjet market is in a notable transformation,” says Boer with I.T. Strategies. “It is 20-years old – technology has come a long way during that time. The effect of technology advancements has done two things: It has caused newer generations of printers to be more productive; and it has caused the recent generation of printers to become more reliable and durable.
“The net effect is that demand for new machines is now flat to in actual decline in most segments. However, the demand for output has not decreased and, in fact, it continues to rise. Correspondingly inkjet ink sales in most segments are increasing, and are expected to continue to increase as well. Bottom line: The future for inkjet beyond consumer markets remains as bright as ever.”