Development status and trend analysis of specialty paper industry in 2022
Special paper refers to paper-based functional materials with certain special properties and suitable for certain special purposes. Generally, the weight per square gram is less than 100 grams. It is a high-tech product. , or special processes (coating or lamination or processing) to produce paper for specific purposes. (Thermal paper is also a kind of special paper)
According to statistics, the output of special paper and cardboard in my country has maintained a relatively high growth rate in the past five years. As of 2019, the output of special paper and cardboard in my country was 3.8 million tons, a year-on-year increase of 18.75%. The compound growth rate from 2014 to 2019 was 8.73%. Speed leads the world.
1. Small producers are in fierce competition
In North America and Western Europe, the printing and writing paper and newsprint businesses have been shrinking steadily over the years. Commercialized market behavior has led to more companies exploring how to enter the specialty paper segment. Despite the high cost, many fine paper or newsprint machines have also been retrofitted to produce specialty papers.
After the newly developed papermaking chemicals and the continuously improved process technology are put into use, the speed and width of the paper machine are constantly increasing, which reduces the production cost of some traditional small specialty paper mills. But not all specialty paper mills have been able to switch production successfully, and some factories have closed down because of this.
This puts new pressure on specialty paper companies, especially those in slow-growing segments. Some old specialty paper mills with a certain history have closed down or will be acquired. Other established manufacturers such as Appvion and Arjowiggins are currently facing bankruptcy or being acquired. A Nordic investment group recently bought Germany's Zanders Paper, saving the old paper mill.
2. Water-based paint
New product development in food contact applications will continue to focus on the commercialization of water-based barrier coatings to replace expensive and environmentally controversial fluorocarbons. Some of the largest chemical companies have been pursuing a variety of innovative solutions, some of which are being commercialized.
To further this development, chemical suppliers and paper manufacturers have invested heavily in research and development, including the use of customized pellets in size presses and applied coatings to impart environmentally friendly oil-resistant properties.
Another hot topic is the replacement of trivalent chromium complexes commonly used in North America as heat-resistant mold release surfaces for bakeware. Food-grade silicone coatings are more common in other parts of the world and perform well in many applications. However, it is expensive and difficult to apply on paper machines. The current work goal is to develop better solutions for medium and low price paper machines.
3. Thermal paper and inkjet paper
The explosive growth in internet shopping and shipping of related products has led to rapid growth in demand for thermal transfer, direct thermal labels and digitally printed shipping labels. Government regulations on product assurance continue to drive demand for labels, security warnings, transport hazards, and health warnings.
For labels, plastic film facestocks already have a market share due to their flexibility, durability and moisture resistance, but paper is still very common in most applications.
Thermal paper has been an expanding market, with production in the mid-2010s. As postal costs increase and bulk mail increases, users are looking for low basis weight label solutions, and lightweight opaque paper still has advantages in some developing regions. The main issue facing the thermal paper industry is still not containing Bisphenol A (BPA) in coating formulations because of the negative publicity and very strict regulation of this chemical in North America and Europe.
The demand for inkjet printing is not limited to labels, but also extends to many other fields. In response to the proliferation of high-speed inkjet printers worldwide, specialty paper manufacturers have developed surface-treated or coated paper lines that are well suited to digital printing platforms.
4. Medical applications
In addition to the increased demand for release paper used in bandages and other products, the demand for packageables (including paper) in the pharmaceutical industry will also continue to increase. The growth rate of specialty papers in this segment is expected to be around 4.5% in 2019-2024.
Papermakers continue to invest in the production of various products, including lightweight MG or MF bleached kraft paper, to capitalize on this opportunity, but it does face competition from plastic films as a low-cost alternative.
Key attributes of medical wrapping include protecting instruments or other items by maintaining a sterile environment. This requires it to have sufficiently high tear or puncture resistance and maintain these properties after processing with a variety of techniques to provide the necessary shelf life, typically up to 5 years.