Smithers Identifies New Opportunities in $5.10 Billion Aqueous Printing Inks Market
31 January 2023: The current market and latest commercial developments for both ink types are profiled in brand new Smithers market report “The Future of Water-based vs. Solvent Printing to 2027”.
Exclusive data from this report show that the total consumption of water-based inks will be 493,000 tonnes in 2022, with a value of $5.10 billion. Growth in demand will see this market expand at a steady compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1% to reach 576,000 tonnes in 2027.
In contrast, solvent-based ink use will rise from 1.02 million tonnes in 2022, worth $8.09 billion, to 1.13 million tonnes in 2027. Representative of a significantly slower CAGR of 2.1%, by volume, for the forecast period.
Both of these chemistries will compete against each other, and with alternative ink systems – oil-based, radiation curing, liquid and dry toner (electrophotography) – which are also quantified in this Smithers study.
Water-based printing is still largely confined to a few sectors of the market – packaging, labels, commercial print, and publications – and even within this there are distinct nuances due to an array of technology and market factors. Smithers’ analysis considers how and when these may be overcome.
Aqueous inks are used at appreciable volumes in three print processes – gravure, flexo and inkjet. These are also the dominant platforms for solvent-based inks, along with screen printing which makes some use of these.
Several recent new press models for the packaging segment are based around aqueous inkjet or flexo systems. These will become increasingly important over the next five years, as converters seek to transition towards more paper packaging substrates. There will be scope for wider use over solvent ink systems, but concerns over release of VOCs mean that water-based systems will be preferred as and when drying technology allows for these to run at an acceptable print speed.
For aqueous inkjet, Smithers forecasts double-digit growth in all packaging types, as new presses are installed and print buying moves towards a print-on-demand model. Similar factors will see water-based print becoming increasingly important in book printing, making this the most lucrative market for aqueous inkjet inks over the next five years.