The Ink Solvents Market size is forecast to reach US$1.1 billion by 2027 after growing at a CAGR of 4.5% during the forecast period 2022-2027. Inks composed of pigments and resin are diluted using a solvent. Solvent-based inks are used for printing in two distinct technologies gravure and flexography. The commonly used solvents are alcohol (methanol, ethanol, etc.), hydrocarbons (benzene, toluene, etc.), ketones (cyclohexanone, acetone, etc.), esters (ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, etc.), and ethers (diethyl ether, isopropyl ether, etc.). Solvent-based inks are a relatively inexpensive type of inks that are compatible with inkjet printers. An attribute of solvent inks is that it is waterproof, thus making it resistant to fading and wearing. So, they are widely used in the automotive and packaging industry. The increasing demand from the packaging sector drives the ink solvents market.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a mixed impact on printing. The demand for printing from offices and schools decreased due to a shift towards work from home and online classes as documents were shared online. The sales of newspapers also plummeted as people were worried on the account of the virus being viable on the surface. According to StatCan, the operating revenue of Canadian newspaper publishers declined to $2.1 billion in 2020, down 21.9% from 2018. Printing of newspapers came to a standstill during the lockdown. For instance, according to the Indian Newspaper Society, the print media lost Rs 4,000-4,500 crore in March-May 2020 with economic activities collapsing due to Covid-19. On the other hand, the demand for other printed materials like comic books increased. For instance, according to ICv2 and Comichron, combined comics and graphic novel sales in the US and Canada were approximately $1.28 billion in 2020, a 6% increase over sales in 2019. This impacted the ink solvents market during the pandemic.
Ink Solvents Market Segment Analysis – By Type
The bio-based segment held the largest share in the ink solvents market in 2021 and is expected to grow at the highest CAGR of 5.8% during the forecast period. Most of the solvents used for ink are petroleum-based. For instance, hydrocarbons are the simplest and least expensive ink solvents. The volatile prices of crude oil and supply chain disruptions have paved the way for the increasing usage of bio-based solvents. Bio-based solvents derive from living matter, such as plants and animals, therefore, are green, renewable resource alternatives to petroleum-based solvents. Bio-based solvents are effective and safe. Due to higher boiling points, low toxicity, recyclability, low miscibility, and other features, sustainable solvents are highly preferred. One of the main advantages of green solvents is that they release fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during manufacturing compared to petroleum-based solvents. Bio-based inks are used for printing on paperboard and carton, cardboard as well as non-porous substrates such as plastic wraps and bags. Oils such as soybean, palm, sunflower, rapeseed, or other vegetable oils, and bio-fuels are the bio-based ink solvents that are used. According to the American Soybean Association, about one-third of America’s approximately 10,000 newspaper printers use soy ink. Soy ink uses soybean oil or alcohol esters of soybean oil as a solvent. Due to the increased focus on sustainability, the bio-based segment is set to dominate the ink solvents market.
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Ink Solvents Market Segment Analysis – By Process Type
The flexographic segment held the largest share in the ink solvents market up to 40% in 2021. Flexographic printing is ideal for everything, from food wrappers to secondary containers, such as cereal boxes to shipping cartons. The adoption of flexographic printing is increasing in food packaging applications. According to Dotcom Distribution’s eCommerce consumer study of 1,137 US online shoppers, about 40% of surveyed consumers share photos of products they perceive to have unique and appealing packaging, on social media which may help boost the sales of such products. As flexographic inks enable printing on a wide variety of both porous and non-porous surfaces, they are frequently used in packaging. Flexographic inks are popular due to their color, flow behavior, good surface appearance, performance, and gloss. These inks are a superior choice due to the ease of printing with a wider variety of inks. Gravure requires much more ink per print, which can drive up the cost of printing. According to Xi’an-Huayang Mechanical & Electrical Equipment, compared to the rotogravure with an open ink chamber, flexo ink consumption is 40% to 50% less than rotogravure. Flexography is competing with gravure in the flexible market and with other processes in the leaflets and cartons markets in packaging. The high demand for solvents from the flexographic printing inks industry is expected to boost the ink solvents market.
Ink Solvents Market Segment Analysis – By Geography
The Asia-Pacific region held the largest share in the ink solvents market in 2021 up to 43% owing to the growing packaging and eCommerce in the region. The scale and growth rate of eCommerce in Asia really sets it apart from other parts of the globe. According to DigitalCommerce360, Asia accounts for nearly 60% of the world’s online retail sales. According to Invest India, after a surge of online shopping during COVID-19, the Indian e-commerce market is estimated to be worth over $55 billion in gross merchandise value in 2021. According to a report by EY, India’s ePharmacy business is currently growing at a rapid pace and is predicted to reach $18.1 billion by 2023. China alone is the largest eCommerce market in the world. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, online retail sales in the country are expected to rise to 17 trillion yuan (US$2.66 trillion) by 2025, from 11.8 trillion yuan in 2020. Thanks to the digital transformation, eCommerce in other Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam is also growing exponentially. Packaging is a crucial element of eCommerce. Some manufacturers use personalized packaging to create their brand image among consumers. Thus, with the boom in eCommerce in the region, the consumption of ink for printing is also set to grow which boosts the ink solvents market during the forecast period.
Ink Solvents Market Drivers
Growth of the Packaging Industry
According to the World Packaging Organization, packaging is the world’s third-largest industry following the food industry and energy industry and it is the only industry that has something to do with every single product produced in an economy. Thus, the packaging industry is highly crucial. According to Propak, paperboard is the most used packaging material, accounting for around a third of world packaging markets consumption. Since the beginning of the pandemic, consumers have become conscious about packaging in regard to health and safety. According to Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials, 74% of US consumers prefer to buy products with packaging that will protect the contents from contamination. Since, the onset of the pandemic, the growth of individual end-user segments such as food, beverages, FMCG, and pharmaceuticals resulted in a growing demand for packaging. From corrugated to flexible, packaging is proving to be a great opportunity for inkjet printers and inks. As printing inks are used on different packaging materials such as paper, plastics, metal, etc., the high growth of the packaging industry also drives the growth of the printing inks market and thereby, the ink solvents market.
Rise of Digital Printing
Digital printing utilizes computer generation as the principal mechanism behind designing physical product packaging and creating the images or graphics governing their appearance. Digital printing influences every part of the packaging. Digital printing allows for customization and personalization. Digital printing offers many sustainability benefits, such as less waste and the ability to use bio-based inks, reduced make-ready and set-up time, cost-efficient production, and so on. Through the use of inkjet printing technology, the environmental benefits of digital printing can be elevated. The advanced technology of digital printing involves the use of mild solvents and less-harmful chemicals than those used in conventional printing technologies. One area of growth for digital printing is food packaging. The increasing demand for packaging materials from the food and beverage industry is driving the consumption of ink solvents. Digital printing eliminates the need for preparation time, and the actual printing process is completed more quickly, which means that products can be delivered much more efficiently, in terms of cost and time. Aiming to fuel the growth in the digital printing market, Canon India, in August 2021, launched a new range of products in the imagePRESS and imagePROGRAF series in the professional printing segment. The digital business of Sun Chemical, under the SunJet brand, widened its product and technology portfolio to meet the demands of packaging and labels as digital press numbers and capabilities are being realized. In July 2021, Sun Chemical and its parent, DIC Corporation acquired the digital inks business of Sensient Technologies Corporation. These developments showcase the rise of digital printing. Thus, the rise of digital printing acts as a driver for the ink solvents market.
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Ink Solvents Market Challenges
Shortage of Raw Materials
The pandemic choked supply chains worldwide which led to raw material shortages in every industry. The ink industry is also no exception. Shortage of raw materials have resulted in increasing market prices which is negatively affecting the solvent-based printing inks market. Printing ink companies globally are suffering from a shortage of raw materials, including resins, monomers, photoinitiators, oligomers, and additives. This is mainly attributed to raw material plant closures in China, a major source of these raw materials, as the country has placed significant emphasis on improving its environment by cutting industrial pollution. China is dominant in printing inks raw materials supplies due to the presence of strong refinery capacity and associated chemicals manufacturing ecosystem. Market players have already started facing challenges due to shortages of raw materials. For instance, in July 2020, Sun Chemical, a global printing ink manufacturer, increased the prices of its solvent-based inks and coatings in North America due to increase in price of raw materials. Such challenges pose a threat to the ink solvents market.
Ink Solvents Industry Outlook
Product launches, acquisitions, and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in the ink solvents market. Ink solvents top 10 companies include:
In February 2022, Ricoh launched Its first plant-based inkjet ink across EMEA. Ricoh’s plant-based ink will help brand owners and printer manufacturers further reduce their environmental impact.
In August 2021, LANXESS completed the acquisition of the U.S.-based specialty chemicals manufacturer Emerald Kalama Chemical for US$ 1.04 billion. The acquisition strengthens LANXESS’ portfolio for the plastics, paints and coatings as well as adhesives industries.
In March 2021, Celanese Corporation, announced that its Texas incorporated chemical production plant will start using recycled carbon dioxide as a substitute feedstock in the fabrication of methanol, a vital raw material used in the production of ethyl acetate and other chemicals.
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Asia-Pacific dominates the ink solvents market on account of the packaging and eCommerce industries in the region. According to Invest India, India’s online shopper base to be the 2nd largest globally by 2030, with nearly 500-600 Mn shoppers
Solvent-based inks consist of pigment dissolved in solvents such as alcohol (methanol, ethanol, etc.), hydrocarbons (benzene, toluene, etc.), ketones (cyclohexanone, acetone, etc.), esters (ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, etc.) and ethers (diethyl ether, isopropyl ether, etc.).
Solvent ink also has the advantages of being fadeproof, waterproof, and scratch-resistant. These qualities enhance its usefulness in inkjet printers. Inkjet is by far the most diverse line in digital printing.
The major opportunity for this market is the rising demand for bio-based solvents.
A. Green Solvents & Bio Solvents Market
B. Printing Inks Market
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