US demand to reach $4.8 billion by 2013 US demand for printing inks is forecast to increase to $4.8 billion in 2013. Downward pricing pressures will continue to limit value growth as competition within the industry restrains price increases. However, demand will benefit from shifts toward more expensive energy-curable and digital inks, as well as increased use in the large packaging market. Demand for printing ink raw materials is projected to expand in line with ink through 2013. Additives and colorants are expected to experience the fastest advances, reflecting demand for better performing inks with brighter colors.
The US is forecast to maintain a favorable trade position through 2013 and beyond, with the surplus projected to widen. Exports have increased in recent years as a mature US market and strong competition domestically have prompted US ink manufacturers to look abroad for sales growth. Exports of higher quality ink will be spurred as printers in markets such as Asia and Latin America adopt new technologies, purchase higher speed presses, and upgrade their ink systems.
Lithographic inks to remain most widely used type Lithographic inks will continue to be the most widely used inks in the industry, benefitting from the strong position of lithography, which offers advantages such as longer plate life, higher quality print performance and lower ink consumption than other printing processes. However, gains will be limited by competition from flexographic formulations, particularly in packaging applications. Of the lithographic inks, web offset types will continue to account for the majority of demand while sheetfed offset inks are expected to register more rapid growth, reflecting increasing demand for inks used for short-run publications, such as commercial printing inserts and special event promotions.
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Digital inks to grow fastest Digital inks represent the fastest-growing product segment in the US printing inks industry. Advances will be driven by improvements in digital technology, such as print quality and speed, which will open up new applications to digital inks. Increases also reflect a trend toward customization and shorter run lengths in applications ranging from commercial printing of inserts and direct mailings to the printing of specialized designs for the textile industry. However, more rapid market penetration will be limited by the cost of adopting the new technology, including the purchase of new equipment and training of personnel. Additionally, runs of digital printing applications tend to be short and, hence, the quantity of ink consumed is small relative to conventional printing inks.
Packaging will stay largest, fastest growing market Packaging represents both the largest and fastest-growing market for printing inks. Gains will be fueled by growth in the flexible packaging segment, as more advanced ink formulations are required for the brighter colors and wide range of substrates used in this sector. Water-based and energy curable inks will benefit from greater concern for environmental issues as well as improvements to these formulations that make them suitable for use in an increasingly wide range of applications. Demand will be further aided by rapid growth in the use of digital inks in the packaging market and greater usage of brand protection products such as security inks.