July '21

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 1 J U L Y G R A P H I C S P R O 1 5 Specifics are also crucial when talking sublimation ink. "The chemicals (in sublimation ink) are designed to go from a solid to a gas while skipping the liquid phase," state Rodenhouse and Lamb. "With the proper time, tempera- ture, and pressure on a polyester surface, sublimation inks will become vibrant. If you use non-sublimation ink, the image you create will not be vibrant and will not permanently be embedded into your product." DTG inks also have a specific technology behind them. "Digital means it uses inkjet print heads, and there are many reasons pigment water-based inks are most commonly used with DTG," says Donovich. RIPPLING EFFECTS Businesses across the graphics industry continue to need ink for their daily projects, outputting quality prints for everything from T-shirts to drinkware. And with the COVID-19 pandemic came additional uses for these printing methods: safety signage, masks, floor graphics, and more were all created using those techniques. But the effects from COVID have obviously also had some negative repercussions. Supply chain issues are currently rippling through the world, causing problems that have even touched the world of ink. "There is an international shortage of the major raw ingredients that make up screen-printing inks," says Landesman. "The shortage is not only limiting available supply but increasing costs, as seen in the industrial chemicals compo- nent of the U.S. Producer Price Index (PPI) … For screen printers, this trans- lates to increased costs in screen printing inks and a more limited selection." Shortages are also being seen in digital inks. "We know there are manu- facturers having ink supply issues," Lopez affirms. And it's not just the ink itself seeing shortages. "At the height of the pandemic, some of the components such as ink car- tridges (not the ink) were in short supply because they were manufactured in other countries and the factories were shut down," note Rodenhouse and Lamb. "The shortage of these ancillary items, like containers, generally all stem from a lack of supply and a sudden surge in demand of petrochemicals," believes Landesman. "The reductions in production output as a result of COVID and the sudden spike in demand are a contributing factor as produc- ers are still trying to rebalance supply." Unfortunately, this also affects pricing. As featured on In this excerpt from an article featured on, Allee Bruce, Editor, GRAPH- ICS PRO Daily, spoke with several industry in- siders to get the scoop on supply chain issues. W hen COVID-19 first started affecting the industry, factories, manufacturers, and print service pro- viders (PSPs) were shut down for the health and safety of their workers, plus the slowdown in business. With shutdowns and job loss, the industry turned to online buying, much like the rest of the world's in- dustries. The surge in online buying meant a demand for products, and as Greg Brown, Citadel Brands, a distributor of hoodies, sweats, jackets, and sports- wear for AWDis, puts it, "inventories got depleted." "Then when the markets started to open back up, and orders started flowing again, a backlog built up quickly," Mutoh's Brian Phipps explains. "We all have become so used to getting our orders 'just in time' and that all changed for us last year during the pandemic." For many manufacturers and suppliers, capac- ity couldn't keep up with demand, and shipping couldn't keep up with the number of orders requiring delivery. According to Brown, the lack of workers on vessels, crane operators at ports, and truck drivers to make deliveries is also impacting supply chains and delivery times. … Only time will tell how much longer manufactur- ers, suppliers, and shops will be affected by these disruptions, but the industry experts have some predictions about capacity and demand, and some hopeful words for print and personalization business owners. Scott Sletten, JDS Industries, says these types of issues have "a way of self-correcting over time," and he expects that'll be true in this case. Whether it takes six months or an entire year, he assures that certain products will get back into balance sooner than some others. He adds that suppliers and manu- facturers will have more stock once this initial surge in demand levels out. … "At the end of the day, it's all we can do; be as informative to your customers as possible," Todd Downing, owner of Fat Dad Custom Designs and co- founder of Our Success Group, adds. "Educate them on why something will or won't work, what the differ- ent print methods are, and the difference in material blends. A better-educated customer means less time answering questions and more time making money." To read the entire article, visit If you want your customers to come back, using a top-quality ink in your screen prints is a must. (Image courtesy Lawson Screen & Digital Products) continued on page 110 Cust Graphics Indusy Faces Supply Chain Woes

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