Feb 12, 2014
Inkjet technology supplier Xennia (UK) announced last week that its XenInx Zircon inks for ceramic tile printing have received formal approval for use in all models of the Xaar 1001 re-circulating printheads. The Xaar 1001 inkjet heads are widely used inkjet heads in color digital presses now operating at tile manufacturers globally. The XenInx Zircon inks are the latest generation of digital inks from Xennia for ceramic tile printing in use with numerous production lines, built by Xennia or other manufactures, using Xaar 1001 print heads.
Xennia’s Zircon ink set for digital ceramic tile production, first introduced in 2011 with blue, brown and yellow, has been growing and in May 2013 expanded to include pink, white and beige; according to Xennia, the added colors show strong color vibrancy and high opacity, and offer a high level of color stability across a wide range of glazes, eliminating color differences between wall and floor tiles. Xennia says of all its Zircon inks that they are “formulated and optimized to achieve high print quality on fired tiles through the control of the inkjet drop formation process and the interaction of the inks with a wide range of unfired glazes.”
Where does this news fit, in the world of digital printing for industrial applications? Digital ceramic tile printing is already a lucrative market, one where a small group of vendors are making headway in turning an analog market based on rotary press technology into a market where digital printing reigns supreme. Of the approximately 11 Billion square meters of ceramic tiles produced annually worldwide, InfoTrends estimates that about 6 billion square meters (55%) are printed digitally today, all of it by inkjet. InfoTrends also believes that that digital share is growing, with additional digital displacement coming, in particular as China, the world’s biggest producer of ceramic tiles, takes a leading role in this conversion.
This digital ceramic tile printing market is fueled by the long term development of inkjet print heads by Xaar and several competitors, such as Fuji Dimatix, Konica Minolta and Seiko. However a key for their success stems from close cooperation with systems integrators and more importantly ink manufacturers. Digital ceramic inks are challenging to piezoelectric printheads however Xennia and ink suppliers including Â Colorobbia, China Glaze, Esmalglass, Ferro, Smalticeram have developed a range of inks that are suitable for inkjet production.
Co-Development Options Attractive
Common for these vendors is their ability to support Xaar’s 1001 print head, a leading print head in use today. Many of the digital printing systems (e.g. Cretaprint, Kerajet, Hope) having open ink systems, i.e, inks by different manufactures can be used with their systems. However ink manufactures are looking for differentiation to ensure their inks are the products of choice by end users. To that end we foresee more co-developments by printhead, ink, and system manufacturers, resulting in systems solutions that provide reliability, productivity, and profitability.
Notably, Xaar printheads and Xennia inks are integrated with the HopeJet product line from Hope Ceramic Machinery, the Chinese manufacturer of ceramic tile printing equipment and related automation.Â As rapid growth in China continues, co-developing products will grow in importance, as inkjet press and ink manufacturers seek the edge than an inclusive printing system can having formally approved inks is one step towards achieving this goal.
With European markets well established Xennia, as well as other technology providers are looking for China and South America as target markets for growth. To this end this announcement by Xennia could lead for additional strategic collaboration between systems manufacturers such as Hope Ceramic Machinery, to grow its share of digital ceramic tile printing through digital ink developments. This is likely a beginning of a strategic move to couple digital printing systems with a certified ink to ensure best performance for end users but also maximize profitability to equipment and ink manufacturers.
– Ron Gilboa
Director of InfoTrends’ Functional and Industrial Printing consulting service.
InfoTrends is tracking the functional Â and industrial printing market through a range of primary and secondary research.
Recently published transforming textile printing , as well as upcoming research on digitally produce Décor application -Â Profiting through digital printing in the DécorÂ marketplace.
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