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Digital ink manufacturer delivering the highest quality inkjet inks

Fujifilm’s inkjet ink manufacturing achieves the highest quality of aqueous digital inks. They get products right first time through excellent manufacturing capabilities supported by operational discipline and precision-focused processes, as manager Katie Sullivan explains.

“Our procedures are the backbone of manufacturing excellence, with Right First Time our most important measure”, says Katie Sullivan, Manufacturing Manager

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Excellent manufacturing capabilities at our facilities in New Castle, USA, help us to produce the highest quality water-based inkjet inks. We do this through robust procedures and systems that help us to be accurate, such as process logs, precision weighing, attention to detail, proper order of addition, and in-process quality sampling.

Right First Time (RFT) is one of our Key Performance Indicators. Our target is >98% and we investigate anything that is not 100% RFT. A lower measurement can indicate errors, so we put in countermeasures or preventative steps. For example, we might reach out to suppliers to get a better understanding of their processes or investigate other factors.

Many anomalies can happen in manufacturing. But, at Fujifilm, we always find solutions to move forward, and prevention is key. One way is to make sure the operators feel comfortable to discuss and they are honest about any potential mistakes. 

Inkjet ink manufacturing is a total full circle

Our goals are product quality, consistency, and repeatability, which we achieve through an extensive training program, stringent process logs, our leaders’ knowledge, and operators with years of experience. Then there’s the raw materials and we can’t manufacture without them.

We have manual process logs in the ink plant to document everything. The log provides all the details about what materials are added, precise weighing limits and the order of addition. It also covers hazards and protective equipment and leads the operator through the batch from start to finish, including staging the raw materials all the way through to final packaging and labelling.

Other groups like Quality Control (QC) support us. We rely on them, as we can’t move forward with a batch unless we know the process results, while engineering is responsible for much of the equipment. Inkjet ink manufacturing is a total full circle involving everybody. Many of our activities are team-based, so you need to work as a team and individually. Nobody’s siloed in their own section.

We realize people are not going to come to us with specific manufacturing experience. But, if they have the right skills and attitude, we can train them. We don’t look just for those with a chemical background. We’re open minded and consider whether they can learn and have attention to detail. 

Digital ink manufacturer meeting strict specifications

As a digital ink manufacturer, we can go from small-scale manufacturing (1000kg) to mid-scale manufacturing (3000kg), and large-scale manufacturing (15000kg). Any products that come into manufacturing start with the Process Technology Development (PTD) team, which supports our group and the technical aspects of ink manufacturing. 

PTD starts at the front end, developing and scaling up small batches to take new products from formulation into viable, repeatable production. For example, they use raw materials to make a one-liter batch of water-based inkjet ink and test it in the QC group. Everyone, from Finance to the Regulatory team, will be involved in making sure we get the proper materials and have the right kind of regulations associated with them.

At Fujifilm, we have a lot of systems in place that we’ve perfected over the years. Supply chain buys the raw materials, which are approved by Quality Assurance before being released on our data processing and planning software. Once a batch is in the plant, there are specific assets used for each product, and I manage the assignment along with the people making the batches. The attention to detail and meeting specifications is where it all starts.