Digital inks are used to print digital-based images directly into a variety of media. Additionally, the inks enable on-demand printing having short and quick turnaround time thereby resulting in lower costs. The global digital inks market is expected to witness considerable growth. Replacement for printing plates is not required in digital printing as compared with other traditional methods such as lithography, flexography, gravure or letterpress. Electrography and inkjet inks are the two types of digital inks. Electrography digital inks held larger share in the global digital inks market in 2016, as these are widely used in photocopy machines and computer laser printers. Electrogrpahy inks offer high speed (ranging from 4ppm to 1,000ppm) and print quality for text, graphics and images. Inkjet digital inks market is expected to witness higher growth during the forecast period (2017 – 2023). Demand for inkjet inks is growing, as these are less expensive and find applications in computer printouts and labels. Inkjets use a special ink to print on the paper and consist of dyes mixed with highly fluid vehicle that forms very small drops having electric charge, which can be deflected properly to fall in the right place to form a printed character or image.
Commercial printing was the largest application area of digital inks in 2016, as different commercial printings require high throughput printing with high resolution in different size of pages. Digital inks address this demand, thus making commercial printing its largest application. Digital inks find applications in a wide range of commercial printing products such as stationery, brochure and catalogue. Commercial printing requires different kinds and quantities of cartridges for churning out larger volumes of printed material on a range of paper sizes. Among different applications, the global digital inks market is expected to witness the fastest growth for office printing during the forecast period. Low cost of digital inks and better quality of digital prints are fueling the demand for digital inks for office printing.
The global digital inks market was valued at $1,147.4 million in 2016, and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.4% during the forecast period. Growth in the packaging industry, rising demand for UV-cured inks and emerging trend for digitalization of books are the major factors driving the growth of the global digital inks market.
Growing shift towards environment-friendly digital inks and advancement in printing technology are the key trend witnessed in the global market. Advancement in the printing technology such as piezo technology-based inkjet print heads is expected to drive the global digital inks market. These piezo inkjet print heads enhance the resolution of images through delivering small and precise dots with accuracy. Additionally, growth in the UV-Cured inks is expected to further bolster the market growth during the forecast period. These type of printing inks offers energy efficiency, low heat generation, long service life and zero ozone generation, which is expected to further propel the growth of UV-cured inks.
Increasing investment in research and development (R&D) is the key opportunity for the growth of the global digital inks market. Companies such as Nitro Quimica and Siegwerk Buedingen have invested heavily on R&D activities to enhance their product and service offerings in packaging printing. Over the years, Nitro Quimca had invested approximately 2% of the revenue towards R&D, which has significantly helped the company in developing innovative products thereby increasing the competitiveness and performance of products for markets including digital inks for flexible packaging, nail polishes, wood and leather surface treatment, automotive repair and special adhesives. Additionally, Siegwerk Buedingen has invested in the creation of regional centers of excellence in manufacturing and automation. It has increased capacity within the manufacturing of water-based and energy-curable products at its site in Morganton, North Carolina (USA) and has also initiated comprehensive investments in its footprint in China. The company focuses on developing new and innovative solutions to support customers in addressing upcoming trends and meeting their individual requirements. These investments are likely to create ample demand in the digital inks market during the forecast period.
Packaging industry is one of the major consumers of digital inks in various regions including North America, Asia-Pacific, Middle-East and Africa and South America. Factors such as rising GDP, increasing disposable income, growing youth population and the continuously changing lifestyles of consumers would result in significant growth in demand for packaged consumer goods. This is expected to have a positive impact on the global digital inks market during the forecast period. The use of digital inks in packaging industry is expected to further rise during the forecast period on account of their increasing applications in tags and labels, metal cans and flexible materials.
The major challenge faced by the global digital ink market is the large quantities of waste ink produced during spill, drainage from press and excess dosing. Collection and disposal of such inks is extremely expensive thus posing a major hindrance for the market growth of global digital inks. Additionally, stringent government regulations restricting the usage of inorganic solvents and toxic metals is the key restraint for the growth of the global market.
The global digital inks manufacturers are developing products with advanced technology to strengthen their position of the companies in the global digital inks market. In May 2017, Electronics For Imaging, Inc. entered wood decoration industry with the showcase of its new Cubik technology for industrial digital inkjet wood decoration at Ligna during 22 – 26 May 2017, in Hannover, Germany. Ligna Hannover is a 5-day event, which showcases products like displays forest products, forestry technologies, sawmill technology, solid wood working services, energy services from wood, wood materials and products, veneer production, raw timber products etc. in the plant, machinery & equipment, manufacturing, fabrication, repair & maintenance industries.
Some of the other key players in the global market include Sun Chemical Corporation, Flint Group, Siegwerk Druckfarben AG & Co. KGaA, TOYO INK SC HOLDINGS CO., LTD., SAKATA INX CORPORATION, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Marabu GmbH & Co. KG, Nazdar Ink Technologies, and Wikoff Color Corporation.
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