Emerging technologies in digital printing and rapid expansion of the inkjet printing process are expected to support growth of nearly 11% per annum for digital inks through 2004, although these inks will account for only 5% of total ink demand. Flexographic inks will also see above-average growth as they continue to gain market share at the expense of lithographic and gravure types, particularly in packaging applications. Demand for flexographic ink is expected to increase 5.4% per annum to reach $1.3 billion in 2004.
Lithographic ink will remain the leading type of printing ink, accounting for 43% of the market in the year 2004. Demand will benefit from growth in product offerings that have emerged in response to environmental concerns. As lithographic and flexographic inks penetrate markets traditionally held by gravure and letterpress, gravure inks will continue to grow — but at a slower pace — and letterpress demand is expected to decline nearly 3% per annum through 2004.
Packaging and commercial printing represent the largest markets for printing ink, accounting for 36% and 33%, respectively, of the total U.S. ink demand, followed by publishing, which commands 23%. Ink sales are impacted by macroeconomic trends and evolving consumer preferences. Advances in electronic transactions and communications have reduced demand for printed business forms and bank checks, and continue to challenge newspaper and other print-on-paper news and entertainment media.
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