Photoinitiators: A “run” on substitutes

The shortage of photoinitiators poses challenges for the printing ink industry. We spoke to Dr Jörg-Peter Langhammer of EuPIA about the supply shortages and their consequences for the industry.

Photoinitiators: A "run” on substitutes. Image source: Fabioberti - -

What causes supply bottlenecks for photoinitiators?

Dr Jörg-Peter Langhammer: The main reasons are the tightened environmental regulations in China, the main supplier of photo initiators and their raw materials. From a sustainability point of view, these initiatives by the authorities are to be welcomed. However, they have led to suppliers temporarily stopping production. Other developments were a plant fire, low inventory levels and further production stoppages. Because photo initiators are generally small volume raw materials, the deadline for registering such substances under REACH has had a negative impact. The ink industry has been informed by suppliers that widely used photo initiators must now be reclassified. This leads to conflicts with the EuPIA exclusion policy and has triggered a wave of substance exchanges. The result is a “run” on substitutes, which in turn have limited availability. A further effect resulted from REACH registration that, in some cases, was limited to small quantities only.

Jörg-Peter Langhammer_SIEGWERK_II_578_WEB_portrait (002)

Dr Jörg-Peter Langhammer of EuPIA

Siegwerk and EuPIA

What are the consequences for the production of printing inks?

Langhammer: Substance exchanges in particular are a challenge for formulators in companies. It cannot be ruled out that losses in technical performance will have to be accepted. Customers’ needs for technical re-qualification of alternative ink systems must be given special consideration by their end users – taking into account appropriate periods of time.

What can be done against the supply bottlenecks?

Langhammer: The ink industry is working hard to broaden the supply base for photo initiators in order to prevent supply bottlenecks to customers. Recently, it became known that the manufacturers are planning a “common interest group”. The industry is hoping for increased transparency and professionalism in the exchange of toxicologically important substance data.

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