Take a look around you. What do you see? A calendar on your office wall. A newspaper on the table. That beautiful wallpaper you spent hours choosing. A carton of fruit juice. The latest novel you’re reading.
Magazines, the holiday brochure for next year’s vacation, CDs, DVDs, a chocolate bar, your children’s school books. All the bright, colourful things in life depend on it, and we consume it without even noticing. Ink - the most important medium of communication, education and decoration in our society.
But ink and the clear varnishes and coatings that are used to protect printed images have to deal with a huge variety of conditions and requirements. We need ink to print on thousands of different substrates, and it has to withstand extremes of temperatures, humidity and weather conditions, being handled without rubbing off, or deliberately coming off when needed. In some of its more specialist applications ink conducts electricity, changes colour depending on temperature and helps protect against counterfeit and fraud. Nevertheless, the integrity of the printed image must always remain intact, as it is there to serve a purpose. On food packaging for example it displays dietary information, or storage and handling instructions which can for example reduce the chance of wasted produce. In its most serious role, ink educates and informs, updating us on world events and warning us of danger. Ink also helps us to make life choices; which products to buy, what direction to travel in, what message to send our loved ones. In its most dramatic role it colours our lives and enhances a beautiful world for us to live in.
With almost 100 printing ink manufacturers, employing some 13,000 people across Europe, it’s easy to see why printing ink is not only a vital medium for communication and education, but it is also a key contributor to the European economy.
In Europe, more than 1 million tonnes of ink and coatings, costing €3.5bn are consumed by printers of all kinds of products every year. This equates to 2kg of ink for every man, woman and child in Europe, which, when you consider that is enough ink to print 35 daily newspapers or 24,000 chocolate bar wrappers, is a lot of ink!
But that is just the tip of the economic iceberg. Almost every product we buy in supermarkets or other retail outlets comes in some kind of printed packaging. Estimates put the value of all printed packaging in Europe at over €150bn per year, not to mention the products contained inside. Add to that the revenues generated by other printed material; newspaper and magazine advertising income exceeds €40bn per annum and book sales in Europe exceed €23bn per annum to mention just two, and you soon realise that ink is a vital component of multibillion Euro businesses, directly employing millions of European workers.
For all these reasons, ink and coatings which protect, educate and enhance the lives of every one of us should not be taken for granted, but should be celebrated and enjoyed.
Could you imagine a world without colour - a world without ink?