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.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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