Innovation continues to drive the global print and ink market as end-users strive to sate insatiable appetites for added value products that will give them any competitive edge in tough sectors where margins are tight and demand is high. This article will examine the latest developments in pigment technology emanating from China.
The US and China are home to the only two manufacturers of optically variable pigments worldwide—JDSU in the US and FYOTEC in China. The pigment products from JDSU and the corresponding ink formulations from Sicpa are well known, but perhaps less well known are the features and benefits of the products coming out of the emerging powerhouse that is China. So the rebranding of the FYOTEC manufacturing company, based in the ancient historical city of Huizhou, near Guangdong, China, has created a useful opportunity to review the company, its products, markets, and approach to the security ink business.
The Optical Technology Company Ltd. was founded in 1996 as a subsidiary division of For You Group Co. Ltd. and now employs more than 30,000 staff, of whom more than 1,000 are employed in research and development. Now boasting revenues in excess of RMB 11 billion (USD $1.75 billion), such has been the company’s success in developing and bringing new products to the market in the last 15 years that it is listed as one of the Fortune 500 companies of China.
Now the firm is looking to the future as it plans an expansion program fuelled by investment in an infrastructure plan that’s already seen the advent of a new 25,000 square meter state-of-the-art pigment and ink manufacturing facility completed in 2012. It has registered capital of USD $2 million and employs almost 400 staff, including 32 working in the R&D team. Furthermore, the new trademark “FYOTEC” was authorized earlier this year to coincide with the launch of a new range of magnetic optical changeable pigments and inks worldwide.
FYOTEC is an official member of the China Anticounterfeit Technology Association (CATA), holding a gold medal for cigarette packaging anti-counterfeit technology. It was also an approved supplier of security inks to the Beijing 2008 Olympic committee. Application for ISO 9000 accreditation is currently underway and is expected to be granted later this year.
As interest in holograms as a security feature on Chinese cigarette packets starts to level off, so awareness in the use of optically changeable ink is on the increase, with FYOTEC product now appearing on more than 40 brands.
Another growing market for security ink application is the protection of China’s growing range of quality brands such as wine. China, so often accused of copying Western products and brand piracy, is increasingly not only seeing demand for its products, such as Great Wall wine, but also the need to protect these brands from the counterfeiters and organized criminals.
Equally impressive has been the use of FYOTEC ink as the leading overt security feature on the inside cover of the Hong Kong passport, which hitherto had been a popular target for ID fraud and counterfeiting. The use of this ink has certainly improved security and has become an integral component of the Hong Kong government and security agencies’ frontline weapon in the fight against fraud.
Security Ink Options
The company has invested in three major products which are being offered directly to the security printer market. The OCEP Optical Changeable Effect Pigment is the company’s first and primary product, and is an optically changeable powder from which printing inks can be formulated. It can be supplied in a number of color combinations (upwards of 15) exclusively for security applications, where advanced, easy-to-use features provide versatility and flexibility for the end user. What’s more, the product is lightweight and because it is solvent free, can be very easy to transport and distribute to global markets.