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Digital Inks Market Overview
The global digital inks market valued $1,147.4 million in 2016 and is projected to witness a CAGR of 5.4% during the forecast period (2017–2023). Growth in the packaging industry, rising demand for UV-cured inks, and increasing digitalization of books are the key factors leading to the growth of the market.
Digital inks are used to print digital images on a range of media. In addition, these inks reduce the time taken for on-demand printing, thus resulting in cost reduction. The digital inks market is projected to witness rapid growth in demand in the coming years, as digital printing does not require replacement of printing plates, unlike traditional methods such as flexography, lithography, letterpress, and gravure.
On the basis of type, the digital inks market is categorized into inkjet and electrography inks. Of these, electrography inks led the market in 2016, with over 60.0% revenue, as these continue to be heavily used in computer laser printers and photocopy machines. The advantages offered by electrography inks include high orienting speed (4 ppm–1,000 ppm) and high graphic, text, and image quality. However, the inkjet digital inks category is predicted to grow at a faster rate during the forecast period, as these inks are cost-effective and widely used for computer printouts and labels. Inkjets use a specialized ink, comprising dyes mixed with an extremely fluid medium that forms tiny drops possessing an electric charge. Such inks can be deflected properly to fall in the right place to create an image or character on the paper.
Based on application, the digital inks market is categorized into commercial printing, office printing, packaging, industrial printing, textiles, publications, and others. Among these, commercial printing held the largest revenue share in the market in 2016, as commercial printing need high-throughput and high-resolution printing on pages of varying sizes. Digital inks cater well to this requirement, which results in their heavy use in the commercial printing sector. Stationery, catalogues, and brochures are the various products of commercial printing for which digital inks are used.
However, during the forecast period, office printing as an application of digital inks is expected to grow at the fastest rate. The cost-effectiveness of digital inks and better quality of the digital prints produced by these inks are the key factors resulting in the high demand for these inks for office printing purposes.
Digital Inks Market Dynamics
The continuing shift toward eco-friendly inks and advancements in printing technology are the key trends in the digital inks market. Technological advancements in the printing industry, such as the development of inkjet printheads based on the piezo technology, are expected to help the market grow across the world. These piezo inkjet printheads improve the image resolution by delivering small and precise dots of ink with accuracy. Further, the increasing popularity of UV-cured inks is expected to augment the market growth during the forecast period. These types of inks are energy-efficient, generate low heat, last longer, and result in no ozone generation, owing to which they are gaining immense popularity across the world.
Increasing investments for research and development (R&D) activities can be viewed as a major opportunity for the digital inks market players. Organizations including Siegwerk Budingen and Nitro Quimica have heavily invested on such activities to improve their services and products in the packaging printing niche. In the past few years, Nitro Quimca has invested around 2.0% of its total revenue in R&D, which has helped the company come out with innovative products. This has also increased the market competitiveness and improved the performance of digital inks used in flexible packaging.
Further, Siegwerk Budingen has invested in the development of regional centers of excellence, dedicated to the automation and manufacturing domains. The company has enhanced its manufacturing capacity of energy-curable and water-based products at its Morganton, North Carolina (U.S.) plant, and has also initiated the investment process to expand its footprint in China. Siegwerk is focusing on the development of new and innovative solutions to help customers meet their specific requirements. Such investments are expected to increase the demand for digital inks considerably during the forecast period, thereby helping the digital inks market grow.
Digital inks are widely consumed by the packaging industry in several regions, including North America, Asia-Pacific (APAC), the Middle East and Africa (MEA), and South America. Factors such as growing GDP, disposable income, and youth population, and the changing lifestyle of consumers are expected to lead to a significant rise in demand for packaged consumer goods. This is further predicted to positively impact the global digital inks market during the forecast period. The application of digital inks in the packaging sector is projected to increase further because of their widening application in metal cans, tags and labels, and flexible materials.
The major factor hindering the growth of the digital inks market is the large-volume accumulation of waste ink during drainage and spill from excess dozing and press. It is quite expensive to collect and dispose the waste ink, which hampers the market growth to some extent. In addition to this, strict government regulations restricting the use of toxic metals and inorganic solvents are a major factor impacting the market growth.
Digital Inks Competitive Landscape
The key digital ink manufacturers are improving the technology of their products to stay ahead of the competition. For instance, Electronics for Imaging Inc. launched its new Cubik technology for industrial digital inkjet wood decoration at Ligna, which was held on 22–26 May, 2017, in Hannover, Germany, thereby announcing its entry in the wood decoration industry. Ligna Hannover is a five-day event, where products and services related to forestry technology, solid wood working, sawmill technology, wood materials and products, veneer production, and wood energy are showcased.
Among the other key players in the digital inks market are Flint Group, Sun Chemical Corporation, Toyo Ink SC Holdings Co. Ltd., Siegwerk Druckfarben AG & Co. KGaA, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Sakata Inx Corporation, Nazdar Ink Technologies, Marabu GmbH & Co. KG, and Wikoff Color Corporation.