Showa Denko has completed expansion of its capacity to produce n-propyl acetate (NPAC), which is used in solvents for ink for special gravure printing.
NPAC is a solvent mainly used for ink for special gravure printing on packaging materials for food. So far, toluene and methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) are mainly used as solvents for the gravure printing ink. However, demand for NPAC—an acetate-based solvent—is increasing as their safe and easy-to-use substitute, due to the revision of the Air Pollution Control Act in which a tighter control has been introduced over the emission of volatile organic components. In recent years, the demand for NPAC has been increasing more than 10% a year.
At the end of 2009, SDK constructed facilities to produce NPAC with annual production capacity of 13,000 tons in Oita Complex, and started commercial production and sale of NPAC in February 2010. In 2016, SDK increased the annual production capacity of the NPAC plant to 16,000 tons by getting rid of a bottleneck in the plant. This time, SDK expanded the annual production capacity of the NPAC plant to 18,200 tons through modifications to facilities during the period for regular maintenance and repair of Oita Complex.
Special gravure printing is widely used for exterior packaging films for confectionery and frozen food as it ensures clear and colorful images with depth and rich tints. The demand for gravure ink for food packaging materials has been especially increasing not only in Japan but also in overseas markets including Asia. In addition, NPAC is expected to be used in other applications, including adhesives, optical films and extractants.
In addition to NPAC, SDK has been providing ink producers and printing companies with ethyl acetate, which is widely used as solvents for inks and paints. SDK will maintain and strengthen its system to stably supply these products in order to cope appropriately with the expansion of the market for solvents.