Interview with Thorsten Schierle
Thorsten Schierle currently works with Evonik Coating Additives in the Applied Research and Technology department, focusing on inks. He has been working in the chemical industry for approximately 20 years, 8 of those with Evonik. Thorsten has a large background in ink formulating directly in the industry.
WHAT ARE THE CURRENT CHALLENGES IN THE PRINTING INKS INDUSTRY?
A lot of challenges we see in today’s printing ink industry are driven by the world’s megatrends. One of these megatrends is that, a lot of things must be preserved and a lot of packaging is involved. In order to preserve food items, the packaging must meet really high performance demands in order to do its job.
Together with this, we face a lot of practical things – in terms of packaging design, durability, and robustness – but also that packaging has to be processable. Think of the filling process, molding processes, sealing processes, and so. At the end of the day, if you formulate an ink for food packaging, you must take a lot of things into account in order to have a high-performance ink that gives a high robustness in the process.
CAN YOU GIVE A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE OF THESE CHALLENGES?
One of example of this is a simple beverage cup. Everyone will use a beverage cup everyone now and then – for takeaway coffee, at a fast food restaurant, or at a summer barbeque. You use it but rarely do you think about the performance behind this. What kind of demands lie in here?
On one hand, the print must withstand – you don’t want an alcoholic beverage for example to drip down the cup and the ink comes off also. At a barbecue, you may have grease on your fingers, and you don’t want the ink to be wiped away. Also from a mechanical perspective, you don’t want the ink to be scratched away by a fingernail. If you stack the cups, you don’t want residue. These are all performance demands. But at the same time, we are talking about food packaging. And food packaging is associated with the highest regulatory terms.
Therefore, on one hand we must meet performance and on the other, we must meet this performance with solutions that meet all regulatory challenges worldwide. We are living in a global word, thus the inks and regulatory challenges are global.