SPLinx – when it’s the effect that matters
SPLinx is a Polish producer of special inks and varnishes for the printing and packaging industry, with an innovative approach worthy of a global ink company, combined with the operation flexibility and the speed of introduction of new products to the market, characteristic only to small, local manufacturers. One of the latest SPLinx’ innovations is – probably the first on the market – low-migration fluorescent ink.
SPLinx is a Polish producer of special inks, paints and varnishes for the printing and packaging industry, and – to a lesser extent – construction. Its offer, fluorescent, metallic, thermochromic, scented, phosphorescent, photochromic, hydrochromic, luminescent, structural inks and varnishes, as well as mixed ones using Pantone, HSK etc. colour guides and Customers’ colour samples, and many more. The company also offers custom-made products, tailored to the Customer’s individual needs, for use in all the printing technologies. SPLinx’ production facility is located in Kąty Węgierskie near Warsaw and in 2021, it produced 105 tonnes of special inks and varnishes.
Our offer is targeted mainly towards printing houses and producers of packagings, focused on innovative, interactive and pro-customer solutions – says Jacek Bisiorek, the owner of SPLinx. – Our products usually require a technologically diversified machinery park; however, we always try to help our Customers, even the smallest ones. We like to work in a sort of a triad: target customer – printing house – ink manufacturer, especially in the field of custom-made solutions.
The main sales market is Poland and – to a lesser extent – Eastern European countries, but in the near future, the company plans to advance its expansion to the Western countries. We employ 13 people, including 3 office employees, 3 sales specialists, 3 production employees and 4 people employed in laboratory, quality control and Research & Development positions – informs the owner of SPLinx. – And that last group is our biggest asset and a competitive strength. We focus on development of our own products and solutions, hence the R&D department in our company. It consists of specialists in the field of production and formulation of special inks. They have unique competences and a wide knowledge in the field of special inks, which they still develop. Our goal is to take control of the largest part of a value chain in the production of special inks possible, which means that we make most of our products from scratch, from the basic raw materials supplied by chemical corporations.
INNOVATIONS WITHIN THE NICHE
SPLinx takes pride in its very well equipped laboratory, which includes Ink Formulation Manufacturer, the software for formulating inks in a version for ink manufacturers, a couple of spectrophotomers, a lab UV curing device, three proofers for sample printing in both conventional and UV offset (ITG Orange Proofer) as well as two in flexo technology (IGT F1 and RK Print). Our Quality Control Department is focused mainly on ink testing in terms of their visual and rheological properties. Everytime an ink or a varnish – regardless of the volume of a production batch – is about to leave the facility, its repeatability and compliance with the Customer’s requirements are being tested. There is also a system of production procedures and archivisation activities in use, which eliminate the majority of errors. In terms of chemical tests, SPLinx works with a few specialised research units.
This year, we will invest in another lab devices and machines, which will help us better evaluate lightfastness, scratch resistance and rheological properties of our inks (tack, viscosity), which are needed in our research and development activities – declares Jacek Bisiorek. – We also have excellently equipped production facility: several mixing devices, including a big gyro mixer and a modern three-roll mill by Buehler. We create innovative solutions within a relatively niche part of the market. Big ink producers usually do not spend significant resources on creation of unique special inks or developing them towards solutions meeting the current needs of the market, such zas adapting them to printing packagings of food, toys, or environmentally-friendly products. Global producers are mostly interested in large-scale sales. In the field of special products, they use already tried-and-true formulations which have been used for years, and just slightly modify them.
We are in constant motion in this segment, dynamically and flexibly accomodating to the market changes and customers’ needs. We are able to open a new research project within a few days and finish an unpromising one equally fast. The research itself is also relatively short, we do not burden ourselves with an unnecessary bureaucracy, and the decision-making process is greatly shortened. Thanks to this, we can successfully run and finish even several R&D projects a year in cooperation of three entities: the final recipient, a printing house, and an ink manufacturer. We adjust our inks and varnishes exactly to our Customer’s requirements, in terms of rheological, colour, technological properties, meeting specific regulations, finally – a required special effect or an added value. It is difficult to imagine a situation where an R&D department of a global corporation cooperates on a project with a distant printing house and its recipient. Even if situations like this do take place, the decision-making process is so long that it makes the entire project very difficult to execute. Not to mention that the volume of expected sales is most often below the break-even point of initiating a new research project.
Most printing houses do not even realise that a large part of fluorescent and metallic inks is only labeled by big players, and the real producers are specialised companies, just like ours. We have access to the latest products and solutions in the field of production of inks and varnishes, because we work with the same raw materials’ suppliers as global producers (sometimes large chemical corporations). We also make use of the fact that the representatives of these companies know that we make special inks, and they themselves report to us about launches of innovative materials (e.g. new, special pigments, binders, or additives).
Jacek Bisiorek: According to a market research, fluo colours are especially attractive among children and adolescents. We can utilise that fact by using fluorescent motifs in designing labels and packagings of food products, targeted to these consumer groups.
SPLinx offers even such a special product as a low-migration fluorescent ink. We are probably the first company in the world to introduce such product to the market – says Jacek Bisiorek. – Formaldehyde had always been an issue; we managed to completely exclude it from our formulation. By the way, this gives us a very optimistic assumption that it would be likely to adjust most special inks to low-migration requirements, which – in turn – means that these inks would be much more widely used in printing food labels and packagings. This topic had been raised many times by our Customers, so I estimate a fairly big demand from the market for these products.
So far, we have developed a low-migration fluorescent ink for indirect food contact, intended for use in UV flexo printing technology. Of course, it was tested by an independent, specialized laboratory, which confirmed that this ink (or, in fact, the ink series) does not exceed migration limits defined by specific regulations. Basing on these tests, we constituate an appropriate statement on composition, which confirms these test results. Now, food packagings’ producers, caring about people’s safety and health, can use very expressive, bright fluo inks in incredibly pure colours to make their products. According to a market research, fluo colours are especially attractive among children and adolescents. We can utilise that fact by using fluorescent motifs in designing labels and packagings of food products, targeted to these consumer groups.
SPLinx TAKES PRIDE IN ITS VERY WELL EQUIPPED LABORATORY, WHICH INCLUDES A SOFTWARE FOR FORMULATING INKS IN INK MANUFACTURER’S VERSION, A COUPLE OF SPECTROPHOTOMETRES, A LAB UV CURING LAMP, THREE PROOFERS FOR SAMPLE PRINTING IN BOTH CONVENTIONAL AND UV OFFSET (ITG ORANGE PROOFER) AS WELL AS TWO IN FLEXO TECHNOLOGY (IGT F1 AND RK PRINT).
SPLinx plans to continue innovating its products towards constant improvement of their special properties (e.g. in order to achieve a desired effect in technologies which do not allow for application of thick ink layers, such as offset), their adaptation to potentially vulnerable segments of the market, such as production of packagings or toys, development of special products for low-energy printing technologies, especially LED (which it has already been successfully doing), as well as widen the range of special inks 100% created and produced on its own. AN