Rise in alcohol prices affects packaging companies

Cost of flexographic plates increases by 3EUR a square meter

There is an increase of 3 EUR a square meter of plate material in the solvent wash process

For flexographic companies using solvent-based platemaking processes, the sharp rise in alcohol prices observed in several EU countries increases the cost of flexographic plates by as much as 3 EUR per square meter.

To get to this number, the following calculations were done:

• In several European markets, the cost of alcohol has doubled, from 1 to 2 EUR per liter.

• It typically requires 15 liters of washout solvent per square meter of the plate.

• 20% of that 15 liters is typically alcohol used to remove the black mask layer, meaning an average consumption of 3 liters of alcohol per square meter of plate material.

• The result is an increase in the cost of 3 EUR per square meter of plate material in the solvent wash process.

At the same time, it is true that if a flexographic platemaking operation has a recycling unit on site, it can recover up to 85% of the solvents. This would still mean an extra cost of 45 cents per square meter.

While this impact may still be moderate for flexo platemaker, packaging printers who are currently using solvent-based inking systems have a much bigger burden to carry. Most large industrial ink suppliers currently implement a price surcharge for solvent-based packaging inks around the globe. In addition, it should be mentioned that they cannot guarantee supply if governments decide to redirect products for medical purposes. Whereas flexographic printing can operate with several different inking systems like UV, EB, water, and solvent, packaging suppliers such as rotogravure printers are faced with limited choices.

The packaging industry is a competitive market, and, especially in the light of the global pandemic disruption, discussions taking place, and starting to shape the “new normal” in the times ahead.

Asahi Photoproductsintroduced its water-washable AWP plate technology to market 10 years ago. Thanks to these 10 years of experience, Asahi know that AWP produces even better quality than typical solvent-wash plates, while at the same time creating an operation that is more in harmony with the environment.

Asahi’s experts are available to discuss these subjects with its customers and prospects, or any other issues they may have around flexographic platemaking. Just send an email to [info@asahi-photoproducts.com] or contact the local Asahi Photoproducts representative.

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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