Fujifilm Imaging Colorants, a US subsidiary of Fujifilm Corporation, has invested in a new production plant for pigment dispersions, the main colorant for water-based pigment inkjet inks, to meet growing global demand.
Currently, Fujifilm Imaging Colorant in the US is a water-based inkjet ink manufacturing facility. By adding the new production plant for pigment dispersions, it will be able to produce consistent, fully-featured water-based pigment inkjet inks built with Fujifilm’s core dispersion technology. Construction of this USD 19 million investment will start in April 2021 and is scheduled for completion by 2022.
To produce high-quality water-based pigment inkjet inks, a technology that produces a stable dispersion of pigment in the ink is critical. The size of pigment particles in ink is 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. The company uses RxD dispersions for its inks and 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 are limited to Fujifilm Imaging Colorants in Grangemouth, Scotland in the UK. In establishing a new dispersion plant, the company expects to 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, and COO of Fujifilm Imaging Colorants. ‘Expansion of our manufacturing capacity is part of a commitment to ensure we can meet the increasing demand to support our global customer base. We are already manufacturing a very high-quality, high-purity product in the UK. In this venture, we are using the design and project management expertise of our UK team to execute this project in the US. This, alongside expert knowledge, technology and processes, will ensure that we manufacture RxD dispersions to the same exceptional standard across both sites.’