We recently talked to Daniel Gandner of Marabu about the company, the market and the future development of industrial inks for manufacturing applications.
Daniel - please explain a little about Marabu’s history
Marabu's history begins in 1859 when Albert Martz opened a shop for artists' colours and architects' supplies. In 1870, the firm started producing drawing boards and geometric instruments in house. It also began making water colour paints and chalks, later adding printing inks and adhesives to the range.
The introduction of screen printing inks in the early 1950s and pad printing inks in the 1960s was a decisive factor for the company’s success. Since 1997, we have also seen strong growth in the digital printing sector. Today, Marabu is one of the world's leading manufacturers of screen, pad and digital printing inks.
Currently, Marabu is a group of companies with a worldwide workforce of 500 employees (Marabu Group) and has wholly owned sales subsidiaries Brazil, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA. In addition, it has customer service representatives in Moscow and Singapore.
What do you believe is the most important market for Marabu in the future? And why?
With our range of screen, pad and digital printing inks, we are able to serve a lot of different industries. Currently, Marabu does great development work in digital and combination printing, because screen printing can’t be fully replaced through digital printing so far. To achieve a good quality by printing materials such as flexible and rigid substrates, quality is guaranteed in combination printing (screen and digital). Marabu is aware of this chance and is taking additional efforts in its developments. Another trend we want to take part in, is the great demand for water based inks and coatings. Application examples are toys and other sensible products. Marabu is willing to strengthen its market position with additional developments into this direction. And last but not least are the automotive, glass and container markets of big interests.
What products have you recently introduced into the industrial print market?
An important highlight has been one of Marabu’s latest developments: A complete solution for the production of touchscreens. The manufacturing process combines the screen and digital printing processes. By combining the technical and economic advantages of both methods, production becomes faster, more easily customizable, and more cost-effective overall without compromising on quality or technical demands. Marabu also presented its new digital concept for "cold peel" textile transfer printing onto T-shirts. With our new pigmented resin Texa® Jet ink, Marabu combines the advantages of current transfer printing technologies in one application: The design is printed in CMYK colour mode directly onto the foil without a time-consuming pre-press process. Only the white barrier layer is applied using screen printing. The small layer thickness of the final patches allows a soft look and feel, thus increasing the wearing comfort of the printed T-shirts.
Also new is a UV screen printing ink for cosmetic packaging. Besides rising technical and optical requirements for printing inks, the focus for cosmetic packaging (like shampoo bottles, toothpaste tubes etc.), is more and more on minimizing unwanted transfer from the outer decoration into the content. Ink ingredients should not pass into the cosmetic product in order to protect the consumers’ health. The carefully selected ingredients for our new Ultra Pack UVCP fulfil purity criteria that is based on the requirements for food packaging. This makes the UVCP particularly suited for the decoration of cosmetic packaging.
Do you believe the future of industrial printing will be screen or digital printing, or both?
The digital printing part is growing and will be the future in a lot of industries. But still many applications can only be implemented to the required quality and functionality by using screen printing so far. For Marabu, further developments of industrial screen printing are necessary, concerning the high set standards from partners. Currently is screen printing the only method, which can vary the ink application so selectively that different layer thicknesses can be achieved. At the same time the high chemical and mechanical resistance of screen printing inks allow prints on difficult substrates such as glass or In-Mold decoration. A clear trend is also be seen in the combination of digital and screen printing. As screen printing can’t be replaced through digital printing so far, printing in combination will be the key to success. The combination of the two printing techniques allows the use of the best applications, which isn’t fully exhausted yet. We may look forward to an amazing “printing future” with lots of unexpected printing tools and applications.
Where do your new ideas come from when you launch new products?
They come from either internal or external sources. Internal sources can be the R&D department or ideas from employees that observe the market and find customer needs. We can also gain good new product development ideas from external sources. For example, a lot of ideas come from existing customers. But also from distributors and suppliers. Distributors works very closely with the market and they know consumer problems and their needs.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the industrial print market?
Ink manufacturers such as Marabu must make customers and potential partners aware of the advantages of screen, digital and pad printing. They must show not only what it can already do, but what it could do in the future. Printing needs to remain an attractive process, and – most importantly – become dominant and irreplaceable in new markets. Innovation is critical to achieving these goals.
What is your view of InPrint?
Marabu has exhibited twice at InPrint (2014 and 2015). InPrint is for us a show with a very good visitor quality, often from R&D, incl. many brand owners. Most visitors come to our booth with a concrete request and seek solutions for specific technical problems and requirement profiles. It is so far the only show that is dedicated to the industrial print market. This makes the show in my eyes very interesting for Marabu as our focus is exactly that market.