Fujifilm to build new manufacturing plant in New Castle

This rendering shows the future RxD plant at Fujifilm’s New Castle site. | PHOTO COURTESY OF FUJIFILM

NEW CASTLE – Seeking to accelerate the growth of its global inkjet ink business, Fujifilm recently announced plans to build a new manufacturing plant at its Cherry Lane site.

The Japanese multinational conglomerate perhaps best known for its photography products has operated a production site near the Delaware Memorial Bridge since 2006, although the site has been home to manufacturing back to the ’40s. Its subsidiary Fujifilm Imaging Colorants Inc. will now invest about $19 million in the building of a new production plant for pigment dispersions, a colorant for water-based pigment inkjet inks.

Fujifilm has operated the Cherry Lane site near New Castle for decades and is now further investing in the site. | PHOTO COURTESY OF FUJIFILM

Construction will start in April and is scheduled for completion by 2022, the company quietly announced March 18.

Fujifilm currently employs about 75 at the existing inkjet ink production site, according to company spokeswoman Christine Jackman. 

“We will determine adding new staff when the construction completes in 2022,” she said. “We’ve enjoyed a relationship with the local community for many years and are excited to expand our operations in New Castle.”

Such water-based inks are a rapidly growing market because they can be utilized in a variety of applications from cardboard packaging to laminate flooring. They are also environmentally safe, able to be used in food packaging and cheaper than previous technologies.

The addition of pigment dispersions to the inks creates more consistent, fully featured colors and applications, but the technology to produce them is intensive. While pigment particles are incredibly small, in ink they can aggregate and sink, causing blockages in nozzles that apply the ink. Dispersions keep the particles separate and stable for use in their applications.

Fujifilm uses its unique RxD (Reactive Dispersant) technology not only for its own inks, but also supplies to ink manufacturers around the world, and they are used in many water-based pigment inkjet inks. It currently only produces the RxD dispersions at its Scotland facility, but will branch into the U.S. with the new Delaware investment.

The use of pigment dispersions helps keep spray nuzzles clear during application.| PHOTO COURTESY OF FUJIFILM

“RxD is a key technology for current and next-generation water-based inkjet inks,” said Ian Wilkinson, president and chief operating officer of FFIC Inc., in a statement announcing the project. “Expansion of our manufacturing capacity is part of a commitment to ensure we can meet increasing demand to support our global customer base. We are already manufacturing a very high-quality, high-purity product in the U.K. In this venture we are using the design and project management expertise of our U.K. team to execute this project in the U.S. This, alongside expert knowledge, technology and processes will ensure that we manufacture RxD dispersions to the same exceptional standard across both sites.”