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Waxes and Additives Market

Waxes and Additives Market

Link: Waxes and Additives Market | INK World
By: Dave Savastano

Waxes and additives play a critical role for printing inks, which is reflected in the market size for these materials. For example, Markets & Markets estimates the size of the micronized PTFE business to be nearly $870 million by 2019, with printing inks the largest portion of the business. On the additives side, Markets & Markets placed the worldwide value of ink additives as nearly $630 million in 2013, with 5.78% CAGR through 2019.

Depending on the ink market, waxes and additives suppliers are seeing growth in the field. Not surprisingly, there is stronger growth on the packaging side of the ink business.

“The 2015 waxes and additives volume and demand have grown at a much slower rate compared to recent years, due to the slower global economy, coupled with the volume decline of some segments of the printing ink industry,” said Shamrock Technologies VP Joon Choo.

“Overall, 2015 has been a disappointing year in the additives industry,” said Jim Yosh Jr., VP, Americas Coating Additives for Evonik Corporation. “There was a lot of optimism to start the year and many believed that we would benefit from the pent-up demand created by a resurgent US economy and the emergence of new markets in countries like Brazil. Unfortunately, the overall market has stalled and demand didn’t live up to expectations.”

The growth on the packaging has led to increased regulatory challenges, especially in food packaging.

“In 2015, the performance demands placed on inks, specifically in the packaging area, have become more challenging,” said Rich Bradley, global market segment manager, print & packaging, Lubrizol. “Waxes and additives continue to be key formulating tools for formulating inks that meet all the requirements of on-press performance as well as for the printed material out in the marketplace.

“We see continued pressure on the publication market with resulting downward trends in volumes over time,” Bradley added. “The packaging market is very active, generating opportunities for innovation to solve some of the challenges brand owners come up with.”

“From our perspective regarding the materials we are producing in our group, including solid and water-based wax additives and non-wax-based specialty coating additives, we see in the ‘traditional’ inks and coatings market in Europe a stable level, while there is in North America and several Asian countries an increasing demand for high quality coatings additives,” said David Grabacki, president, Keim-Additec Surface USA LLC.

Jerry Trauth, product manager wax/ink applications at Kustom Group, said that for Kustom, the biggest news is the company’s acquisition of Lubrizol’s wax compound, ink vehicle and litho overprint product lines.

“In this acquisition, Kustom Group has acquired all of the associated Lubrizol formulations and processing equipment for these product lines,” Trauth noted. “As we have done with our acquisitions of Varchem and Lawter, our commitment to our customers will be continued supply, service and support of products and formulations they have come to trust over the years. Many are already customers of ours. For these customers, we believe that this transaction is a benefit in allowing them to consolidate their purchases. For those customers who are new to Kustom Group as a supplier, it is our goal to form new partnerships and earn their trust through a smooth transition to the Kustom made products.”

Trauth added that the Lubrizol acquisition increases Kustom Group’s ability to serve customers globally.

“Although Kustom has steadily grown its export business for many years, an added advantage of the Lubrizol acquisition is immediate expanded global presence in growth areas such as China, Korea, India, and Europe,” Trauth noted.

John McAllister, director of sales, US & Canada for Micro Powders, Inc., said that Micro Powders had a strong year despite uncertainty in the global economy. “Certain sectors are out performing others and we are pleased with the position we have in the graphic arts market,” McAllister said.

“In 2015, sales of waxes and additives in general continue to grow at or slightly higher than industry growth rates,” said Julie Vaughn Biege, VP – business development and marketing services at Emerald Performance Materials. “Defoamers, silicones and coalescents and other additives have experienced better-than-market growth rates overall, as they often can address certain performance gaps that have arisen in today’s low VOC formulations.”

“The demand for specialty waxes for the coatings and inks industry show growth potential when it comes to micronized wax solutions,” said Sebastijan Bach, head of technical marketing BL Waxes for Formulators/Coatings/Inks/Adhesives, Clariant Produkte (Deutschland) GmbH. “The ink industry is still driven by cost/performance optimization.”

Latest Trends in Waxes and Additives

The interest in environmentally friendly products is a crucial driver for ink manufacturers, and waxes and additives suppliers are working to meet these needs.

“A continued push towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable products seems to be at the forefront of many conferences and driving more corporate programs impacting the entire supply chain,” Choo noted. “We also see concerted effort in market-focused research, to leapfrog current capabilities to reach new application and product needs of digital-driven technologies.”

“Besides classical applications like inks, coatings and also lacquers, there is coming an increasing interest in specialty wax additives in paint and adhesive applications,” said Grabacki. “Due to new coming food contact legislation or demands by multinational food companies, the usage of special raw materials will be strongly limited, like types of amines in inks or classical fat/grease repellant chemistry in barrier coatings like for fast food.”

Trauth noted that Kustom Group continue to observe the trend of suppliers moving out of the oil-based offset ink market, but that is not deterring the company from the segment.

“Kustom decided to take the opposite approach and look at this trend as an opportunity,” Trauth said. “Through growth and acquisition, Kustom has now expanded our vehicle and overprint lines, and added the newly acquired product lines of wax compounds and an expanded additives line.”

Digital printing is an area of great interest to ink formulators and printers alike, and they need the right additives to get the performance they seek. “The changes in the ink industry continue to closely follow the consumer trends we see globally,” said Yosh. “We’re living in a fast moving, digital age and people have become more environmentally and socially conscious. Digital media has made a significant impact on the publication sector and the demand for high quality, resource efficient digital and packaging inks have increased accordingly.”

“Traditional printing continues to decline. However, there is growing demand in non-traditional printing segments,” Biege said. “In non-traditional printing, inkjet and 3D printing continues to evolve and expand in scope. The process requirements for these technologies are different from those of traditional printing, and new raw materials continue to be developed and tailored for those unique needs. The food packaging segment continues to grow and change – whether to make more consumer-friendly convenience food products or address food safety regulations, such as the Global Food Safety Regulations and FSMA. Migration of materials from food packaging and even from secondary packaging into food has continued to be an area being addressed, which is influencing the materials used in packaging design – from plastics to how recycled paper and corrugated materials are being used in the supply chain and the choice of inks, adhesives and coatings used.”

McAllister said that how a printing ink or varnish looks and feels continues to drive new product development.

“Many of our customers have active projects to develop formulas with soft touch properties, and this has been very good for our MicroTouch polyurethane bead business,” McAllister added.

Regulatory Concerns

Food packaging has drawn a tremendous amount of interest, and printers and ink makers alike want to ensure that their products meet government regulations in this field.

“There is an increase in reporting of the regulatory issues, given the new GHS standards,” Choo said. “Shamrock, along with other co-suppliers to the industry, has had to increase their resources and work diligently to update their SDSs to meet the new reporting and labeling standards.”

“Lubrizol is seeing an increased importance for regulatory compliance for packaging inks, in many cases needing to meet global use parameters,” said Bradley. “Customers are re-evaluating current materials for future use and taking a careful look at the viability of their toolboxes.”

Trauth said that although the packaging and food packaging area continues to be a growth area of printing, it presents challenges. “As packaging ink formulations move towards recyclability, low migration and lower VOCs, wax compound and additive formulations will also need to comply,” said Trauth. “We also continue to receive many inquires concerning Swiss and Nestle compliance. Kustom has several products in our various product lines that offer compliance in these areas.”

“The interest in FDA and Swiss A compliant raw materials continues to increase,” said Yosh.”We continue to evaluate exiting products for suitability in packaging applications and develop new products for the ink market with an eye towards compliance and improved efficiencies.”

Customers are reporting an increase in regulatory issues, such as in food packaging, and waxes and additives manufacturers are responding to these areas. Not every country has the same regulations, which makes like more difficult for suppliers and manufacturers.

“Unfortunately, even in the EU we are facing more national instead of less harmonized regulations in the coming future,” Grabacki said. “So on the one side our SHE department gets even more workload to go through the legislations and giving our customers proper answers to their questions; on the other hand, this opens up new doors for our environmentally friendly additives, with which we have long term experience. Due to the fact that our production plant in Germany is located in a water protection area, the use of problematic ingredients was prohibited from the early beginning.”

Biege said that not only has the industry been responding to an increase in regulatory issues, but it also faces challenges by popular bloggers, who increasingly have become consumer influencers.

“Often, these bloggers tend to favor organic products and eschew anything synthetic and chemical, and may not always be aligned with current scientific information” Biege added. “Certainly, cases of recalls as a result of contamination fuel these concerns and have made regulatory agencies and companies investigate the issue more closely. As a result, food manufacturers have initiated programs to revisit their food packaging to assure food safety, consumer confidence and preserve the reputation of their brands.”

Biege noted that this has impacted material selection of ink, coatings and adhesives used.

“Raw materials such as certain mineral oils, resins, waxes, and additives are being reviewed,” noted Biege. “In some cases, companies have launched inks without mineral oils as a low migration product offering. At Emerald, we have spent time to understand the issue and recently completed studies to characterize plasticizer/coalescent migration of current and developmental products in adhesives and coatings. However, new products need to be tested and evaluated according to extraction protocol using food simulants. Evaluations also need to consider the EC 10/2011 standard for plastic packaging, which many in the industry are extending to adhesives and coatings. We have also developed new defoamers with broad FDA clearances.”

“Most of our wax products have a very broad EH&S compliance profile so we are able to offer many products for food packaging and other increasingly more regulated end uses,” said Rich Czarnecki, technical director, Micro Powders, Inc.

Raw Materials

On a positive note, key raw materials for waxes and additives, which have been volatile in terms of price and availability in recent years, have stabilized. The declining cost of crude oil has played a role in this stability.

“Pricing has been volatile over the past year mainly relating back to crude oil, which can be a feed stream for many ink raw materials. Availability has been generally stable,” Bradley reported.

“Raw material prices and availability have remained stable over the past 12 months,” Choo said.

“Availability of raw materials has been strong and there have been little to no shortages,” said Gary Strauss, president of Micro Powders.

“I believe that raw material availability and pricing will remain rather stable next year,” said Yosh.

Grabacki noted that the geopolitical situation does raise some concerns over stability of crude oil supply and pricing.

“Surely there are concerns about raw material price increases due to the unpredictable situation in and around some important petrol producing countries, as especially the price of polyolefins correlates with the crude oil price. As the availability of basic raw materials is also influenced by additional factors, we are ongoing in our efforts for an increased backward integration of the raw materials used for the production of our additives,” Grabacki said.

Trauth reported that 2015 has been a year of improved raw material stability, although availability of some raw materials has been unpredictable.

“Prices seem stable for now,” Trauth said. “Reduced capacity at refineries and suppliers simple carrying less inventory is a frequent occurrence that has to be dealt with on a regular basis. Again to cope, Kustom has tried to partner with our suppliers and customers to help with these issues.”

“Overall, market supply and availability of raw materials are not major issues,” said Biege. “The shale gas boom has re-positioned the US petrochemical industry more favorably in comparison to other regions of the world for key commodities. Supply of lighter petrochemical is in balance with demand, however heavier petrochemicals are tight due to the shift to the lighter shale gas feedstocks. In addition, regulatory costs are now being passed along the supply chain to recoup expenses due to new governmental requirements.”

Key Challenges

Waxes and additives play an important role for ink formulators, and suppliers are being asked to help solve important problems.

“Ink makers are constantly evolving their formulations for better performance, but in a very competitive environment that demands continual cost savings year over year,” said Bradley. “The balance of providing innovation and performance, with tight cost constraints, is one of the biggest challenges we face.”

“The big challenges are for compliant packaging inks, next generation digital inks and raw materials that improve efficiency and efficacy,” said Yosh.

“The main challenges coming from our long-term customers are requests for price reductions of supplied materials or alternatives to them at a similar qualitative level; we face this challenge by increasing the efficiency of our production methods, as we already did in case of PE wax emulsions used in very price sensitive coatings applications.” Grabacki said.

“Help and support with their everyday problems are still very important,” Trauth said. “Whether they are calling from their lab or the pressroom, a live body they reach for immediately technical support is still high on the list. Another challenge is shipping costs and controlling inventory. Our customers understand the benefit of Kustom’s unique ability to offer one stop shopping for all their ink raw materials, and packaging options that fit their business model.”

“The packaging market has been undergoing change in the type of packages being offered as well as assuring products meet the standards for migration,” Biege said. “Technology in digital printing continues to evolve and customers seek wider color gamut, permanence, and excellent processing characteristics on today’s commercial printers.”

“Many of our graphic arts customers are looking for innovative solutions to control their raw material spend in ways that do not affect performance of their inks,” said McAllister. “The development of high performance wax additives that fit the budgets of our customers is a high priority for Micro Powders. We have the ability to custom design products specific to individual customer’s requirements with regard to performance and economics. This level of service is due in part to an extensive investment in our development program.”

New Products

To meet the needs of customers, waxes and additives makers are developing a wide range of innovative new technologies.

“Shamrock has recently focused on developing wax additive products for the water-based and energy curing inks for the packaging and digital segments,” Choo said. “These stable, fine particle sized dispersions are part of our premier AquaFLON, and CeraSPERSE UV series. In particular, AquaFLON 52, AquaFLON 797, and CeraSPERSE UV-808 are meeting high end rub and abrasion performance requirements.”

“Lubrizol is introducing a new line of aqueous wax dispersions targeting evolved regulatory compliance that meet the needs of today’s packaging markets,” said Bradley. “Liquitron 640RC, a 40% active oxidized polyethylene dispersion, is the first product commercially available for sampling, with addition products filing out the line in the near future.”

“According to the trends mentioned before according to requests from the food industry for grease barrier coating formulations that are paraffin- as well as fluorocarbon-free, we can present a concentrate ULTRASEAL W-980 k, a water-based wax-polymer formulation to be used as a basic compound for coatings on paper and board after combining with suited acrylic or latex binders to increase the KIT-value of the substrate,” Grabacki said. “Depending on the substrate and film-thickness, KIT-values of the coating of up to 12 can be achieved, uses raw materials comply with the requirements of FDA 175.300, 176.170, 176.180 and more as well as with German BfR XIV and XXXVI.”

“We continue to expand our dispersant portfolio with a number of products suitable for any ink application,” said Yosh.”Given the high cost of organic pigments and matting agents, the right dispersant choice will help keep raw material costs down.”

“Kustom is proud to add the Lubrizol trusted product trade names of Top Flite, Polytech, Protech and Thermol wax compounds to our stable of existing high quality products,” said Trauth.

Biege said that Emerald Performance Materials has positioned itself to supply new value-added products in the water-based applications, energy cure and inkjet markets.

“We continue to focus on solutions that maximize production efficiency, improve print quality and deliver numerous functional performance benefits, while also offering lower VOCs for color dispersions for digital and UV applications, defoamers, coalescents and plasticizers and other additives,” said Biege. “For example, inkjet is a fast moving and growing market and Emerald Hilton Davis has been developing a new line of Lucida Colors Waterbased Self-Dispersed Pigments in addition to its line of dyes for digital printing, to address the need for greater colloidal stability under high shear conditions encountered in many digital applications and superior color densities in the CMYK color set.

“We continue to expand our Kalama K-FLEX line of low VOC coalescents,” Biege added. “These low-VOC coalescents deliver excellent performance characteristics in a range of polymer systems and applications and offer an excellent alternative to TMBDMIB, phthalates and glycol ethers. Certain grades are particularly effective in harder polymer systems, such as those used in graphic arts applications, offering superior water resistance, without adversely impacting dry time or hardness development. These currently have certain indirect food contact clearances already and we are seeking to further expand upon our food contact clearances with the newest products in the platform.”

“Micro Powders has introduced a new micronized polypropylene matting wax called PropylMatte 500 specifically designed for thin film applications such as printing inks and over print varnishes,” McAllister noted. “This unique polypropylene imparts a smooth silky surface feel to matte formulations. As an extension to our already successful MicroTouch polyurethane bead line, we will be offering a very unique aqueous urethane dispersion for soft touch inks and coatings. This liquid pourable urethane additive enables a skilled formulator to develop very soft and durable haptics.”

Nicole Wistner, marketing communications, Air Products Materials Technologies, noted that Air Products has launched Surfynol 107L Molecular Defoamer, a liquid, nonionic wetting agent and molecular defoamer based on a proprietary high performance Gemini chemistry. This unique chemistry offers a range of surface-active performance benefits and is particularly suitable for use in aqueous systems, including inks and graphic art as well as overprint varnishes.

For water-based inks, the Airase 4750V defoamer is a proprietary vegetable oil-based defoamer designed to control foam, bubbles and entrapped air without generating surface defects, and does not contain added mineral oils, hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), or alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APEs). The Airase 4800 defoamer is a 100% active, mineral oil-based defoamer for a variety of water-based formulations that does not contain added HAPs or APEs.

Air Products’ Zetasperse 3800 dispersant is formulated to provide strong stabilization of pigments, fillers and other solids in aqueous dispersion.

Expectations for the Coming Year

Moving forward, waxes and additives manufacturers see opportunities ahead.

“A strong US dollar will affect the way business is conducted, and represents opportunities for global companies with global supply chain,” Choo said. “Shamrock expects 2016 to be a year of change, requiring lean management practices and focus on developing new application opportunities to meet current market trends.”

“We have high hopes for 2016,” said Strauss. “We have several new products that we’re expected to launch as well as several projects we’ve been working on. We’re also hopeful that there will be a rebound in the global economy that will help drive growth.”

“We expect that 2016 will be another year of slow growth,” Yosh said.

“The expectation for 2016 is basically a continuation of what we had in 2015 regarding to the development of the different markets and responding to those needs,” said Grabacki.

“While our initial wax line has been up and running since May, work continues on three more wax kettles coming on line in the next few months,” Trauth said. “These will be housed in our newly completed, 20,000 square feet addition. Also in 2016, Kustom plans to offer a micronized wax product line. We are also working on specialty wax compounds and dispersion for other chemistries including UV.”

“Growth expectations for non-traditional printing applications are very good based on favorable response to products launched in recent years and new product concepts on the horizon,” Biege said. “These expectations are also driven by continued reformulation toward low and 0-VOC systems, as well as ‘greener’ products like our UV cured technology Lucida Colors EC line and our low VOC K-FLEX coalescents. We also anticipate a continued rise in the requests for products that satisfy foreign and domestic regulatory requirements (FDA, Swiss Ordinance, Nestlé List etc.)”

“We think 2016 will be a positive year for continued growth and innovation in the packaging ink area, and look forward to working with our customers to provide solutions that help them solve their problems,” said Bradley.

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