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New ecological BIO CERAMIC INK based on bio-solvents for ink jet printing (BIOCERAMINK)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BIOCERAMINK (New ecological BIO CERAMIC INK based on bio-solvents for ink jet printing (BIOCERAMINK))

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2014-11-01 al 2015-04-30

The goal of BIOCERAMINK project is to commercialize a new type of ceramic ink produced using solvents obtained by vegetal oil instead of solvents made of glycol ether. Advantages can be achieved in terms of best conditions of environmental safety and lower corrosion on ink jet printers. The quality of the products will improve and consequently quality of the prints, without increasing production costs. The SME proposer (DEF SpA) set out an ambitious innovation project, whose final expected output is to bring on the market the BIOCERAMINK product.
In order to achieve the above mentioned innovation objectives, DEF carried out a feasibility study (supported by EC through SME instrument ph1.) in the period November 2014-Aprile 2015. The feasibility study had the following objectives:
1. to carry out an extensive market analysis and validation study allowing to clearly identify and quantify main market segments, also defining main market drivers, customers desiderata and go to market strategy.
2. To define an industrial development plan aiming at setting up the requirements for a pilot plant that will simulate the reproducibility of the BIOCERAMINK product at commercial scale. The technological roadmap will drive DEF in completing the BIOCERAMINK development, according to result of market study and market validation activities.
Activities performed during the validation study were: Market analysis, Technical validation study, Set up of industrial plan.

Market analysis. The aim Market Analysis was to define main ceramic tiles market segments to be addressed by BIOCERAMINK solution. The dimension and characteristics of ceramic tile producers in Europe were analysed, to define the target market for BIOCERMINK solution and to define users requirements as. Market analysis was then carried out in two steps:
1.Step 1: analysis of dimension and characteristics of ceramic tiles producers in Europe, basing on desktop analysis on data collected from datasets to define the target market for BIOCERMINK solution
2.Step 2: collection of users requirements carried out through on-line questionnaire and remote/face to face interviews. The interviews were both quantitative (aiming at retrieving information on type of production, markets, turnovers, share of digital printed products) and qualitative/open (aimed at retrieving information on needs and pains of customers).
Results achieved:
•The target market identified is made up of about 300 potential producers, of all sizes, with a particular prevalence of small and medium enterprises.
•The validation study allowed to identify 10 potential customers interested in using BIOCERAMINK at industrial scale, and at least further 10 customers waiting for results from early adoption phase.
•As final results of the feasibility study, DEF identified 3 ceramic industries willing to collaborate for the industrial test of BICOERAMINK.

Technical Validation study. During the feasibility study, DEF carried out several tests at pre-industrial level. The tests were carried out on product samples from ceramic tiles producers from Sassuolo area (one of the largest ceramic district in the world), where the SME proposer is located.
The first step of the technical validation activity was to assess several types of vegetable oils, considering costs and availability on the market. For every vegetable oil identified, operational parameters were analysed. In feasibility study, the technical validation was run using tools and equipment at lab scale, since industrial production lines would have required additional spare parts to avoid causing damage to production process of traditional inks.
Results achieved
The technical validation study provided really encouraging results, that were submitted to local tile manufacturers. A preliminary assessment on the quality of the final results (tiles printed with the new BIOCERAMINK product). Feedback were really encouraging and these companies stated a strong interest in collaborating to the following pre-industrial test (use of BIOCERAMINK on real production line).

Set up of industrial plan. Basing on the results of the feasibility study, preliminary assessments of production costs and sales prices were carried out. In addition, the estimated budget for the set up of the production line was defined.
Results achieved
These information allowed to define a preliminary business plan of the project. Main P&L indexes were defined: ROI, Break Even point. The preliminary P&L account was provided in the feasibility study and will drive the subsequent innovation phase of the project.
The technological market demand today, in the ceramic production sector, is oriented to the ink-jet printers for decorating and modifying the ceramic tiles surfaces. The conversion from printing the design on tiles using the traditional screen printing technique or the tampo-graphic technique towards inkjet printing technology has been very rapid because inkjet printing offers enormous economic advantages reducing at the same time environmental impact and giving best quality of graphics. With current inkjet print head technology, many materials can be jetted at high frequencies by using piezoelectric print heads, allowing both high resolution and high productivity printing on a variety of surfaces.
However, besides these benefits, the tiles manufacturers have to take into account certain factors which affect their operation-media choices and maintenance costs for the printers and inks, quality and durability expectations, production speed. Last but not least, they have to take into account workers’ health and safety around potentially hazardous chemicals. It is important to remember that regardless of how “green” an ink system is said to be, most of them release unsafe chemicals.
BIOCERAMINK can bring its contribution in making the whole production process more sustainable and “green”. Actually main areas in which the project will produce impact are:
 emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC). The emissions of VOCs in the atmosphere contribute to the formation of the tropospheric ozone (ozone in the lower atmosphere). Large quantities of this ozone may be harmful to people, vegetation, forests and crops. Sensitive people may suffer irritation of the throat and eyes, as well as respiratory difficulties. BIOCERAMINK will address this challenge thanks to its innovative ink This will results in: a drastical reduction of emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC) during heating processes; reduced environment pollution inside the work places; reduced not pleasant odors inside of the work places;
 reduced environment pollution inside the work places. Ceramic tiles producers need to set up proper measure to prevent workers and environment from having damages and injuries in handling chemical based inks. BIOCERAMINCK will contribute to reduce the risk to the health and safety of workers due to the use of inks with hazardous substances, and the risk of environmental pollution for the dispersal and discharge of hazardous substances will be downsized.