In order to accelerate the growth of the global inkjet business, FUJIFILM Imaging Colorants, Inc. (Newcastle, Delaware, USA, hereinafter referred to as FFIC Inc.), a U.S. subsidiary of FUJIFILM Corporation will construct a new production plant for pigment dispersions, which is a colorant for water-based pigment inkjet inks. Construction will start in April 2021 and is scheduled for completion by 2022. The investment for this construction is approximately 19 million USD.
Inkjet technology has the capability to deliver fast, versatile, print production at short or long run-lengths with variable data. Applications for inkjet are expanding into industrial fields such as packaging printing in addition to commercial and publishing printing. In particular, there is a growing need to use water-based pigment inkjet inks, which have low environmental impact and potential to meet requirements for food packaging safety compliance.
Currently, FFIC Inc. in the U.S. is a water-based inkjet ink manufacturing facility. By adding the new production plant for pigment dispersions (the main colorant in water-based pigment inkjet inks), it will be able to produce consistent, fully-featured water-based pigment inkjet inks built with FUJIFILM’s own core dispersion technology.
In order to produce high-quality water-based pigment inkjet inks, technology that produces a stable dispersion of pigment in the ink is critical. The size of pigment particles in ink are around 100 nm and in an unstable ink, multiple pigment particles would aggregate and sink, resulting in printhead nozzle blockages during printing. To prevent this, the pigment particles in the ink must be in a uniform and stable dispersion. Inkjet ink formulations also contain co-solvents and other functional materials to give the ink its desired properties. It is therefore essential that the stability of the dispersion is maintained and not compromised by the presence of these materials.
FUJIFILM’s pigment dispersions are based on its unique “RxD (Reactive Dispersant)” technology, which cross-links polymer dispersants adsorbed on the pigment particles. The dispersant prevents desorption from the pigment, creating a very stable dispersion. This technology makes RxD dispersions suitable for multiple applications as they enable the design of stable ink formulations that meet demanding performance requirements.
FUJIFILM uses RxD dispersions not only for its own inks, but also supplies to ink manufacturers around the world, and they are used in many water-based pigment inkjet inks.
Currently, the development and manufacture of pigment dispersions using RxD technology is limited to FUJIFILM Imaging Colorants Ltd. (Grangemouth, Scotland) in the U.K. In the establishment of a new dispersion plant at FFIC Inc, in the U.S., FUJIFILM will continue to ensure the production of the highest quality products and strengthen global supply capacity to meet the future needs of the growing industrial inkjet market.
“RxD is a key technology for current and next-generation water-based inkjet inks,” said Ian Wilkinson, President & COO of FFIC Inc. “Expansion of our manufacturing capacity is part of a commitment to ensure we can meet increasing demand to support our global customer base. We are already manufacturing a very high-quality, high-purity product in the U.K. In this venture we are using the design and project management expertise of our U.K. team to execute this project in the U.S. This, alongside expert knowledge, technology and processes will ensure that we manufacture RxD dispersions to the same exceptional standard across both sites.”