05 July 2020 Digital Printing Technologies

Agfa boosts aqueous ink production

With an eye on growing laminates, corrugated and other packaging applications, Agfa is creating a dedicated unit to produce water based inks at its headquarters near Antwerp.

Days after announcing a reduction in plate production capacity, Agfa has announced expansion for inkjet ink production.

The company is building a new unit at its central factory in Mortsel, near Antwerp, to boost capacity to produce water based inks. Until now, its ink production has focused on UV curable inks to match its range of LED equipped large format inkjet printers. This includes the Anapurna, Jeti and recently announced Oberon machines.

Currently, there are no machines in the portfolio developed for water based inks. It has, to date, produced water based inks with specific dispersion characteristics for third party suppliers in a number of segments. Agfa says these include laminates for flooring, furniture and decor papers, document printing and corrugated. The latter and other packaging applications are growing fast and attracting the attention of new entrants to the market.

Water based is considered better suited to corrugated and packaging as there are limitations in the potential applications with UV cured inks. The aqueous inks it produces are recyclable and are suitable for food packaging applications, using materials that have been approved by the Swiss Ordinance and Nestlé. As the main carriers are water, and other low cost compounds, the inks can be more cost effective than UV.

Agfa says there are two targets for the inks that the new facility will produce. The first is for decorative laminates which are then applied to engineered wood for flooring and furniture panels. Packaging is the second target.

The plant will be co located with R&D and quality control teams, and will have capacity to meet anticipated volumes for the next five to ten years.

“Agfa is a specialist producer of inkjet inks and fluids of renowned quality and performance. The inkjet ink business is one of our growth pillars,” says Tom Cloots, director Industrial Inkjet.

“In the last two decades, we have built an inkjet ink production platform which covers pilot to full scale ink production, and incorporates pigment dispersion production, extensive quality control and ink consistency programmes. Our ink sales volumes have steadily grown year after year and we have gradually increased production capacity. The time has come for a new investment to keep up with growing market demands.”

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Agfa believes demand for inkjet inks to print decor papers and corrugated boards will lead to a surge in the requirement for water based inks, leading to invest in a new production facility in Mortsel.

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