Lack of raw material supplies for production of inkjet inks and UV LED inks are leading to product delivery delays. Currently, the shortage involves photo initiators TPO and TPO-L. Only a small handful of companies produce the precursor needed for TPO and TPO-L, and one of the major producers has been shut down by the Chinese government.
The European Printing Ink Association (EuPIA), in a statement issued on May 4th, indicated that there is a “potential shortage of photo initiators.” EuPIA added that the two main causes are governmental activities and REACH-related issues.
“Over the last few years the global geo-political situation has undergone a number of changes, including a shift from attempts to reduce trade barriers to ideas about increasing trade barriers. In China, where the majority of photo initiators and their precursors are manufactured, governmental initiatives for environmental protection have prompted many suppliers to either cease or reduce production for limited periods of time. Holistically, these initiatives are to be welcomed, but they undeniably influence the availability of materials, oftentimes resulting in price increases.
“The supply of photo initiators has been further impacted by major incidents; a factory fire, unforeseeable events (force majeure) at chemical plants, low stocks, unplanned maintenance and production outages – all recent examples.
“As the deadline for registration under the REACH regulation approaches, some raw material suppliers have chosen either not to register some raw materials or to register them only for low volume usage. This has the potential to narrow the choice that ink manufacturers have when substituting photo initiators for materials that can also suffer short term supply issues or limited applicability due to re-classification under the CLP regulation (classification, labelling and packaging), in accordance with the EuPIA Exclusion Policy.”