Eluding the rising cost of silicone

Cost-effective printing solutions from Contiweb

Contiweb Fluid Applicator.

By Rob Bosman, sales manager at Contiweb

These days, the word ‘silicone’ frequently comes with a sign of exasperation as thoughts turn to how hard the bottom line is going to be as prices for the material continue to rocket.

Silicone is a base material used to facilitate the production of everyday items across a vast range of industries, including medical, household electrical and many more. The rising cost of electricity in China, a major global provider, plus the price of crude oil, means silicone suppliers are finding profit margins squeezed. This, along with increasing pressure to meet growing global demand, has seen the price of silicone soar by over 50%.

For print providers, the situation is no different. Silicone is frequently used as a lubricant in the print process, remoistening paper, protecting from friction and ensuring print quality is maintained at a consistently high level. Silicone is an essential part of the process and often accounts for large expense in the business, with large offset lines spending around €100k on silicone a year! Any increase can see material costs escalate and hit margins hard.

A number of forward-thinking print providers are seeking alternative solutions to safeguard their businesses. Answers come in various forms including the integration of an all-in-one silicone applicator and remoistening system such as the Contiweb Fluid Applicator (CFA). Typically, companies would have two separate devices in each press line – each with a sole purpose, one to apply the silicone and one remoisten the substrate. Designed as a standalone system, the CFA combines both functions in one and adds the unique ability to create the mixture directly in the system. This allows print providers to reduce their hardware costs and streamline their workflow.

From a consumable perspective, systems like the CFA can unlock huge savings. Conventional systems use a silicone emulsion. This ready-made mixture is often very expensive and can see consumable costs escalate. In contrast, the CFA uses a pure silicone oil. This high-grade raw material ensures that print providers only need to mix a small amount with water and surfactant before being applied. The oil lasts much longer than an emulsion and provides a more cost-effective solution, as silicone consumption is reduced. In fact, systems like the CFA can see print providers reduce silicone consumption by more than 80% while securing them a financial saving of more than 60%!

Beyond cost savings, the use of silicone oil also offers additional quality and workflow advantages. Take for example the lubrication: the silicone oil outputs large drops of oil which are slowly absorbed by the substrate compared to the fine droplets of a silicone emulsion. This means that less oil is required to achieve a good lubrication and further streamlines operational cost. In terms of quality, the oil produces a film on the applicator roller, which drastically reduces the risk of ink picking and ensures a consistent, premium product.

As Henry Ford once said, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” In other words, unless you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone and think outside the box, you’ll always find yourself restricted by the same bottlenecks.

For more information regarding the CFA, visit www.contiweb.com.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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