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DKSH Japan’s Printing Machinery team identified a need in the commercial photographic industry for a new technology to help speed up processes and cut wastage and thus costs. Many Japanese use photographic studios to take pictures on special occasions, and in recent years, studios have offered a new service: binding the photos into albums. To make pictures resistant to fingerprints and smudges, the photos were laminated. However, this method is not only time-consuming and suffers high wastage due to warping and bubble defects, it also incurs high production costs. The industry needed a new technology.
UV varnish has been used for construction materials and other purposes for many years, but its chemical odor prevented wider usage. DKSH Japan contacted a domestic varnish manufacturer to produce odor-free UV varnish (which hardens when irradiated with ultraviolet light) for use in photographic processing. At the same time, DKSH found another domestic company that manufactures varnish coater machines.
At the start of the project, DKSH provided existing customers specialized in photographic printing with varnish to test on their own varnish coaters. There were many problems, but each was resolved together with the varnish manufacturer. It took approximately two years from the inception of the varnish to its commercialization.
As a result of this collaborative effort, DKSH Japan succeeded in commercializing odor-free UV varnish that does not repel, seep, or smell on photographic printing paper. The new product allows operators of photographic studios to reduce costs by 5% to 10% compared with the previous laminating procedure, since it reduces the number of defective products and wastage. With the new varnish widely used by the major studios specializing in children’s photography and photo albums, DKSH’s varnish customer saw production volumes triple in two years.
As the number of printing machine customers using the UV varnish increases, DKSH Japan continues to meet their individual needs, such as adjusting the viscosity of the varnish. As a result, DKSH now offers ten different odor-free UV varnishes – including several specially mixed blends.
Market Expansion Services at work: continuing future business potential
Working together with its customers, DKSH Japan succeeded in developing a completely new processing method based on a special varnish. Now used at photographic studios all over the country, this growing business is bringing the benefits of Market Expansion Services to varnish and processing machinery manufacturers, as well as to their end-users.