Posted by Harry on 9th Jun 2018

Price rise in this metal is hitting printers

Price rise in this metal is hitting printers

The price of aluminium rose steadily last year reaching a peak in the New Year before a plunge and then a further rise prompting manufacturers to hike the price of printing plates.

Kodak is the latest to hoist the price of offset printing plates by up to nine percent. A figure that will concern many in the print industry since inflation is around two percent. However they have followed the price increases made by Agfa last month who raised their prices by up to ten percent and Fuji last year who also bumped their prices by up ten percent.

Aluminium has risen 17 percent in the last 12 months with a peak of 25 percent earlier this year. This week Metal Bulletin says: “UK aluminium ingot prices increased on Wednesday as UK smelters and diecasters reported higher prices in the market on strong demand. LM24 pressure diecasting ingot rose to £1,470-1,520 ($2,290-2,365) per tonne, from £1,450-1,500 per tonne previously. ”

John O’Grady, of Kodak, says: “With aluminium prices now reaching multi-year highs, it has become necessary to institute a plates price increase. While Kodak has worked diligently to reduce its own costs to lessen the impact of aluminium, the delta has become too great for us to bear, while maintaining our brand promise as a supplier of quality plates to the industry.” 

“Looking to the future, we are exploring different business models to reduce the effect of aluminium volatility on our customers. There are also measures that our customers can take to offset the increase in plate prices. Printers benefit from higher aluminium prices when they recycle their used plates, and many customers are saving additional money by switching to KODAK SONORA Process Free Plates to eliminate the costs of plate processing, including chemistry, water, and electricity costs.”

The reasons behind the rises are several and varied in nature. Brazil has cut production due to environmental problems caused by pollution surrounding some aluminium plants while China is trying to clean up its production facilities as well. The big problem are the trade sanctions applied to Russia by Europe and America following the fall out over the annexation of Crimea, the attempts to influence elections in the West and by the Salisbury nerve gas attack. It has led to warehouses full of the malleable metal gathering dust in the former Soviet Union as the metal is part of the boycott.

Canada, the USA, the UAE and Australia make up the rest of the producers while there is another intriguingly potential producer in the future: landfill sites. The European Commission is behind a project looking into mining old landfill sites to extract aluminium amongst other metals. The Horizon 2020 project is currently looking at the possibility as there are around half a million old rubbish dumps across Europe which hold aluminium cans, pipes and other items which have been systematically dumped for at least a century. Aluminium is the ultimate recyclable metal as it can be can technically be reused over and over again unlike iron which rusts.

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