Schaumburg, IL – Midway through the year, John Hrdlick loves what INX International has accomplished and continues to do as a global leader in the metal decorating industry. Recognizing the myriad of challenges that exist, the company’s President and CEO believes that after careful planning, strategic investments and hard work, INX is well positioned for the remainder of 2022 and beyond.
Since 2020, INX has expanded its two-part metallic decorative ink manufacturing facilities, laboratories, mixing centers and equipment by 45%, involving properties on three continents. These developments have enabled INX to stay ahead of the industry curve with increasing demand and forecasted increasing volume for the metal beverage can market.
“Our two-piece metal business is stronger than it has ever been,” said Hrdlick, a member of the INX organization since 1978 who was promoted to his current title in 2018. “Having a team of research and development dedicated to technological innovations has driven us to continually improve our product formulations.With world-class facilities in various regions of the United States and around the world, we are ready to support our entire network of capabilities of ink manufacturing in uncertain times and unexpected situations.
As market leader in the UK, INX Europe has extended its efforts to Spain. The addition of a modernized factory in Barcelona has increased production capacity. Likewise, market share has improved significantly in South America since the 2020 merger with parent company INX do Brasil. Its plant in Itatiba, Brazil, serves as the main hub for two small metal decorating factories in Colombia and Paraguay.
“Over the next few years, we plan to have a campus-style facility in Brazil that will include a metal decoration facility,” Hrdlick revealed. “Our business in Japan is considering re-entering the metals market in Asia, which would see them invest in our facilities across Asia to supply two-part metallic ink directly. Currently, operations in the United States and United Kingdom ship a considerable volume of ink to Japan. »
A change in consumer habits over the past two years has reversed the trend and is behind the significant increase in canned goods. Easy to pack and carry, their popularity has grown with increased demand in the beer, soda, and energy drink categories. Research reports indicate that the North American metal can market alone was an $11 billion industry in 2020 and is projected to grow to nearly $14.5 billion by 2026.
Hrdlick says INX’s strategic plan takes these types of challenges into account. “We knew our steel customers were building more plants and adding more lines. Suppliers may generally want their factories to be at 80% capacity so that they are available in the event of unforeseen events,” he acknowledged.
“We have embraced this philosophy and with all the global investments we have made, it keeps us at this capacity guideline. Here in the United States, we recently committed $2 million for our Dunkirk, NY plant to have a two-piece metal decor footprint. We also use facilities in California, Illinois, Kansas and Texas to support additional volume as needed.
Hrdlick said these tactics are an important part of a larger reach.
“We realized that our main metal decorating plant in Charlotte, NC could not supply the world or 100% of US demand, so we invested in these other existing plants. It is also about spreading the risk. There were tropical storms in the Carolinas last year that could have impacted our operations in Charlotte. Luckily they haven’t, but I think having other facilities here and around the world to help cover up in the event of a disaster is a good strategy to avoid business interruption.
Addressing the recycling movement in the can market, Hrdlick said this aligns with INX’s sustainability efforts for a circular economy. Through the creation of INX’s Coloring a Safe and Sustainable Future (CSSF) model, each new product is developed to have minimal impact on the environment. Driven by three specific areas – both process and product design for the environment and social responsibility – CSSF improves resource management and eliminates waste, including ink inventory management to help rework and recycle waste inks.
INX also adjusted the industry statement to remove all perfluorinated chemicals and find new alternatives for well-established raw materials. When the European Union announced in July 2020 a regulation limiting the amount of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in PTFE to no more than 25 parts per billion (grams per thousand tonnes), it required ink formulations to be PFOA-REACH Compliant or Fully PTFE-Free by July 4, 2023. Select INX Metal Decorating Products have been reformulated to be PTFE-free.
Two new PFAS-free flat sheet metal decorating ink sets from INX are the INXCure® TP UV Plus Base System and the INXCure® PrintPro Base System. Proven performance TP Series inks are formulated with a full range of specialized packaging needs for conventional and UV technologies, giving marketers the eye-catching appearance and superior adhesion they desire.
Both products are intended for use on crowns, screw caps, closures, two-piece DRD boxes, soldered cans, and decorative pewter applications. Both offer a variety of base colors and deliver impressive results with excellent workmanship and flexibility, fast drying response and exceptional printability. Brand owners and printers are rewarded with added value by using these inks, benefiting from reduced regulatory risk.
Recently introduced Gloss Matte NoVar inks for extruded metal (one-piece containers) create gloss and matte contrast effects, resulting in a 50% gloss difference between the two. Offering superior press performance with excellent ink flow, high strength and better scratch resistance, Hrdlick says these types of products are the first to come in the development pipeline.
“We will continue to introduce innovative products, including interior and exterior can liners, that are safe, sustainable and support a circular economy,” Hrdlick said. “We have always prioritized environmental and social responsibility as we seek to provide the best possible products and services to our customers.”
Admitting that global developments in the first half of 2022 continue to pose challenges, Hrdlick is confident that history is on INX’s side.
“Our metals group has undergone changes over the past few years with the retirement of key people, but we have strengthened the division by increasing our factory manufacturing and technical service staff. Everyone is in synergy, our global purchases are better coordinated and we continue to work and communicate regularly with our suppliers. We are doing everything we can to improve the supply chain situation. Ultimately, our customers know we have a sophisticated global team that can help their business succeed. »
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