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Paper & Ink: Welcome back

Aug 30, 2001 12:00 AM

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GATF (Sewickley, PA) and PIA (Alexandria, VA) recently distributed a wallet-size laminated card labeled, “Printing Industry Facts and Figures.” These statistics confirm what most printers already know: This is one tough business.

According to GATF and PIA:

  • Pre-tax profits for the printing industry were 3.2 percent of sales for all printers and 10.9 percent of sales for the top quartile of U.S. printers.

  • The primary expenses for U.S. printers as a percentage of sales are: paper (22.6 percent), direct wages (16.6 percent), administrative expenses (10 percent) and selling expenses (8.7 percent).

  • Expenses have remained relatively stable during the past decade, except for paper, which has been volatile from year to year.

In this special Paper & Ink supplement, you'll find articles that will help you understand how paper is made, the basics of paper buying and proper paper-handling techniques. There's also a mid-year outlook on the North American paper industry, courtesy of the experts at (San Francisco).

“The last few months have been difficult [for North American paper producers] and, in the short term, it doesn't seem that things will improve much,” reports Harold M. Cody, senior editor of Pulp & Paper magazine. “One analyst even used the dreaded term ‘recession’ in describing the current state of the pulp and paper industry. Another analyst notes that this is the worst downturn since the 1990-91 recession.”

Cody adds that the strong dollar has given European mills a cost advantage over the average U.S. mill. It has also led to a surge of imports and suppressed U.S. exports.

“The toll on jobs and mills has been particularly difficult, with at least 10,000 jobs lost and a record number of mill closings. And, unfortunately, weaker profits are leading to cutbacks in investments,” says Cody.

The grade-by-grade review in the outlook article on p. 9 touches on other market factors, including the weak economy and the subsequent falloff in advertising.


We also have some exciting ink developments to share with you on p. 20w. Hybrid inks may offer some printers a competitive advantage. These inks, which combine the properties of UV and conventional inks, allow inline UV coating without extended deliveries, water-based tie coats or other approaches used to prevent glossback.

The UV-curing process exposes photo-reactive materials in specialized inks and coatings to UV light, instantaneously transforming the liquids into a solid — without releasing volatile organic compounds into the environment.

UV curing can protect the printed piece while providing spectacular gloss values. One printer reports gloss readings in the 90 percent range.

Is your company particularly innovative when it comes to putting ink on paper? We'd love to hear from you — e-mail us at: For more paper and ink tips, visit us online at