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NAPIM's 101st Annual Convention focuses on opportunities ahead for printing: convention covers topics of flexible packaging, new markets and more.

The printing industry is evolving. Packaging remains strong, but new fields are emerging to replace declining markets. At this year's National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers' (NAPIM) Annual Convention, these topics and more headlined the meetings.

NAPIM's 101st Annual Convention was held at Red Rocks Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas from April 1-4, and attendees heard detailed talks on flexible packaging, printed electronics, textile printing and more.

NAPIM president Pat Carhsle, president of Joules Angstrom U.V. Printing Inks, felt the conference was "fantastic. It seemed like there was a lot more involvement and camaraderie here. I haven't heard a single negative comment," he added.

"It's been a very good convention," John Copeland, NAPIM executive director," said. "The substance has been good, and people are enjoying the location and speakers."


There were a number of informative talks given during the convention, beginning with keynote speaker Richard Picciotto, FDNY chief and highest ranking firefighter to survive the World Trade Center collapse. Picciotto had been heavily involved in rescuing people from the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, and knew the layout well.

"I didn't think it was an accident," he recalled. "I knew the whole complex. Each floor was an acre. Each tower had 99 elevators and three stairwells. I knew we couldn't put out that fire, but we had to contain it."

Picciotto and his team had reached the 35th floor when the South Tower fell, and headed back down, clearing floors as they went. When the North Tower fell, he and 13 firefighters and other personnel were trapped in a stairwell, and did not escape for five hours.

Picciotto offered some insights he took from the tragedy. "People look for leadership and want to do the right thing," he said. "The lessons for me were to put your priorities in order. The people who did this thought this would destroy us, and unfortunately, the politicians are dividing us. We have got to stop the partisan politics."

Kristina Lorio of Flexible Packaging magazine gave a presentation on the flexible packaging market.

"Millennials grew up using flexible packaging," Lorio observed. "The biggest shift toward flexible packaging is in the food segment, driven by cost savings and consumer demands. In terms of printing, 83% of flexible packaging converters use flexo, 42% use gravure and 13% use digital. In terms of inks, 69% of printers use solvent-based inks, 48% use water-based and 33% use UV curable inks."

Ralph Nappi, NPES president, talked about some of the opportunities ahead for printers. These new markets include printed electronics, bio printing, 3D printing and textiles, as well as continued growth in packaging.

"There are a number of emerging growth areas," Nappi noted. "It is amazing how few people are focused on the printed electronics market. Organic printing of tissue will probably exceed any projections. I think 3D printing will be mostly for prototypes. The textile market is $165 billion, with 67% dyeing and 33% printed. It is amazing to think of the potential for printing there.

"Packaging printing is expected to grow to a $288 billion business by 2017," he added. In the last 20 years, packaging has developed from two or three colors to very high end flexible packaging with eight to 10 color jobs at 150 LPI or higher. We are now in the days of mass customization; Share a Coke is the biggest marketing success of the 21st century, with eight billion bottles printed."

George Fuchs, NAPIM's director of regulatory affairs and technology, gave an update on regulations and safety, and spoke of the need for standardized practices, including possible Toxic Substances Reform Act (TSCA) reform that has stalled in Congress.

"It is better to have a standard so we know what we have to meet," said Fuchs. "We generally are supportive as long as we have input. The TSCA bills are different. We support both initiatives. It's got to happen, and the House and Senate have to work together to form a joint proposal, but I don't see it happening any time soon."


David Wawer, executive director of the Color Pigments Manufacturers Association (CPMA), talked about concerns over the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership.

"If enacted, the Trans Pacific Partnership would eliminate duties on all pigments, paints and inks, but trade and tariffs are part of doing business," he said. "CPMA opposes the elimination of tariffs for color pigments."


Braden Sutphin Ink CEO Jim Leitch and Inksolutions VP of sales John Jilek Jr. combined to present the State of the Industry Report, the annual survey that NAPIM conducts of its members. For the most part, the news was improved from last year.

This year, Leitch reported ink sales figures from NPES, which places the US printing ink business at more than $4.5 billion. He noted that the US gross domestic product (GDP) rose 2.4% in 2014 and in 2015, and is expected to rise 2.1% in 2016.

"These kinds of levels of economic growth are not real good," Leitch said.

In terms of segment highlights, NAPIM found in its annual survey that companies reported a 9.7% growth in energy curable litho inks, and 2% growth overall in packaging inks.

Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose to 5.8% among reporting ink companies, as opposed to 4.5% in 2014 and 3.2% in 2013. Return on net assets in 2015 was 13.0%, a significant increase from 10.3% in 2014 and 5.1% in 2013.

"Profitability continued to grow," Leitch reported. "EBIT is very encouraging, and RONA is a good number. "

Jilek noted that the strengthening dollar and the decline in crude oil prices are not all they seem to be.

"Since 2014, the dollar has grown stronger, and as manufacturers, this does present a challenge," Jilek noted. "It makes it economically difficult to export items and more advantageous to import products. No one in this industry uses crude oil as a raw material. We use materials made from it."


One of the highlights of the annual NAPIM Convention is the black-tie awards. This year, NAPIM honored Lisa Fine, technical director for Joules Angstrom U.V. Printing Inks, with its prestigious Ault Award.

Fine previously received NAPIM s 2002 Award for Technical Achievement and the 2010 Printing Ink Pioneer Award. She served as president of the National Printing Ink Research Institute (NPIRI) from 2011 to 2014. In addition, Fine is the president-elect of RadTech, as well as a technical advisor to Ink World magazine since its inception.

"It was a super surprise," said Fine. "I am totally blown away, not only about getting the award, but also about the very select company I am inducted into--not just that of the Ault winners themselves--but also of the folks who have gotten all three awards. The only other two I know of who also received the Technical Achievement Award, the Printing Ink Pioneer Award and the Ault Award are Dan Carlick and Bob Bassemir, both formerly of Sun Chemical. I knew Bob for many years and he was one of my gurus!"

In addition, NAPIM presented seven Printing Ink Pioneer Awards during the ceremony. The honorees include:

* Michael Keegan, VP of sales, Paste Ink Division, Toyo Ink America.

* Joe Kelly, R&D director of liquid water-based inks, INX International.

* Robert Lu, COO, Ink Systems.

* Suresh Mahajan, president, Modern Printing Colors.

* Pete Notti, VP, Ink Systems.

* Tom Rogers, retired president and CEO, Apollo Colors.

* Greg Yoder, business director pressroom chemicals, Flint Group.

Next year, NAPIM will hold its Annual Convention at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, FL from March 10-13, 2017. For more information, contact NAPIM at www.

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Author:Savastano, David
Publication:Ink World
Date:May 1, 2016
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