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Fujifilm to build another new Delaware facility

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Fujifilm will invest $26 million to build this manufacturing expansion at its New Castle plant over the next year. | PHOTO COURTESY OF FUJIFILM

NEW CASTLE – In its second expansion in less than two years, Fujifilm announced Monday that it is investing another $28 million to add more inkjet printing capacity to its site off Cherry Lane in New Castle.

That investment comes on the heels of a $19 million production plant for pigment dispersions, a colorant for water-based pigment inkjet inks, that it started building last year and expects to bring online this summer. That project is Fujifilm’s first dispersion manufacturing facility in the U.S., with current production completed in Europe.

This rendering shows the RxD plant that Fujifilm plans to open this summer in New Castle. | PHOTO COURTESY OF FUJIFILM

The Japanese multinational conglomerate perhaps best known for its photography products has operated an inkjet production site near the Delaware Memorial Bridge since 2006, although the site has been home to manufacturing back to the ’40s. Its latest investment by subsidiary Fujifilm Imaging Colorants Inc. will double its production capacity of pigment dispersions in the U.S.

Construction on the 11,000-square-foot facility began this month and is expected to be operational by the summer of 2023, officials said. The pair of facilities brings Fujifilm’s recent investments in the First State to $47 million.

To support the increase in manufacturing in New Castle, Fujifilm will add 30 positions in quality, engineering, production, and administrative roles by the end of 2023 to support both facilities, officials said. Last year, officials said that the current plant employed about 75 people.

“We believe that developments in aqueous ink technology will contribute to the transformation of new markets for inkjet,” said Ian Wilkinson, president and chief operating officer of Fujifilm Imaging Colorants, in a statement. “With this investment, we are further strengthening our position as a major manufacturer of both aqueous ink and core pigment dispersion technologies. Our mission is to ensure that we can support our growing North America and global customer base, to accelerate their success in inkjet.”

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.

“Further expanding our manufacturing capacity for pigment dispersions at our Delaware site will enable us to supply aqueous dispersions and inks to our Americas customers more efficiently,” said Melissa Toledo, general manager of the New Castle plant, in a statement. “In addition to expanding operations, we look forward to growing our team here with 30 new positions to support our RxD manufacturing with roles in production, engineering and administrative support.”

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