DIC was established in 1908 as a manufacturer of printing inks. Learn about key events in the Company's history here.
Founding and establishment of a solid business foundation
1908Kawamura Ink Manufactory is established
Popular and consumer culture evolved swiftly in Japan following the Russo-Japanese War with the rapid modernization of daily life. Underscored by the launch of numerous magazines devoted to the arts and a boom in the popularity of picture postcards, as well as by rising demand for attractive packaging for cosmetics and food products, a revitalized cultural scene had a direct and positive impact on demand for printing services, spurring the growth of Japan's printing industry. Recognizing the potential of this trend, Kijuro Kawamura resolved to go into business as a manufacturer of printing inks and established Kawamura Ink Manufactory.
Kawamura set up a plant in Tokyo, installing three gas engine–powered 8x12-inch roll mills, and launched operations with just three employees, commissioning a traveling salesman to handle marketing. The new company began by manufacturing white, blue, yellow and red inks for woodblock, lithographic and typographic printing, all of which were in particularly high demand, purchasing raw materials (pigments and varnishes) and selling milled inks. Sales were brisk from the word go, ensuring the Company got off to a smooth start.
1915Kawamura recognizes the potential of offset printing
Offset printing, which delivers higher image quality than other printing methods, was introduced into Japan around 1908. The first commercial offset printing in the country began in March 1914. Predicting that offset printing would gain wide acceptance in Japan, Kawamura Kijuro Shoten, as the Company was now called, became one of the first ink manufacturers in the country to conduct R&D in the area of inks for the new technique.
While few written records pertaining to the development of offset inks at the time remain, it is known that the Company's researchers faced considerable difficulties and went through a great deal of trial and error as they strove to determine, among others, the optimum ink viscosity, as well as the pigment particle size and chemical affinity between pigment and varnish. In 1915, they finally succeeded in manufacturing commercially viable offset inks.
By this time, more than 100 offset printing presses were in use in Tokyo and Osaka, while offset printing was rapidly emerging as the technique of choice among printers across the country. Thanks to the Company's foresight, it succeeded in capitalizing on this trend and promptly launched production and sales of offset inks.
- 1908 Established as Kawamura Ink Manufactory
- 1910 Cultivates demand in regional markets throughout Japan
- 1912 Changes Company name to Kawamura Kijuro Shoten
- 1915 Succeeds in manufacturing inorganic pigments
- 1915 Commences production of offset printing inks
Entry into the field of color engineering—Expansion of business area in Asia
1925Launch of production of own supply of organic pigments marks first step toward becoming a manufacturer of fine chemicals
Kawamura Kijuro Shoten recognized early on that access to high-quality domestically produced organic pigments was essential to its ability to ensure a stable supply of beautifully colored, easy-to-use offset printing inks. Prompted by the depletion of pigment supplies during World War I, as well as a sharp rise in market prices, the Japanese government offered subsidies for efforts in the area of synthetic chemistry. However, such subsidies were applied primarily to R&D and production of textile dyes and did not extend as far as organic pigments, forcing the Company to begin considering the idea of in-house production.
Having already succeeded in developing inorganic pigments and certain monoazo organic pigments, Kawamura Kijuro Shoten applied its technological prowess to R&D aimed at enabling it to produce its own supply of organic pigments. After considerable trial and error, the Company perfected a method for producing Lake Red D and other organic pigments by chemically manipulating beta-naphthol and other coal tar intermediates, and in 1925 commenced full-scale production.
With this achievement, the Company graduated from its role as a processor to being a full-fledged producer of printing inks. This also marked its first step toward becoming a manufacturer of fine chemicals.
1940Proprietary water-based gravure ink developed amid stringent government controls on the use of materials
In the 1930s, the commonly used solvent in gravure ink was aviation gasoline. As Japan became engulfed in the turmoil of war, however, the government placed stringent controls on gasoline of all types, compelling ink manufacturers to develop water-based gravure ink as an alternative.
With manufacturers across the country pressing ahead with R&D efforts, Dainippon Printing Ink Manufacturing Co., Ltd., as the Company was now known, perfected its own water-based gravure ink by creating a solution of casein and an alkali, such as sodium hydroxide, to which it added alcohol or gum arabic to control viscosity.
Adopted by the Cabinet Information Bureau as the designated ink for its weekly publication Shashin Shuho ("Weekly Photo Journal"), the Company's proprietary water-based gravure ink was used widely for approximately 10 years, until controls on gasoline were lifted and solvent-based gravure ink once again appeared on the market. During the development process, the Company had also conducted research aimed at finding a substitute for natural resin in gravure ink, through which it accumulated extensive expertise in the production of synthetic resins. This, in turn, served as a springboard for its advance into the synthetic resins business.
- 1919 Commences operations overseas (concludes agency contract in Hankow, China)
- 1925 Begins to produce its own supply of organic pigments
- 1931 Starts operations in Indonesia
- 1936 Begins production of varnishes
- 1937 Incorporates Dainippon Printing Ink Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
- 1939 Opens office in Beijing
- 1940 Develops water-based gravure ink
- 1950 Has initial public offering on the Tokyo Stock Exchange
Overseas technology cooperation—Active diversification
1952Joint venture established with overseas partner to support growth of synthetic resins business
In February 1952, Dainippon Printing Ink Manufacturing Co., Ltd., established Japan Reichhold Chemicals Inc. (JRC) in a joint venture with Reichhold Chemicals Inc. of the United States.
By this time, applications for synthetic resins had expanded beyond inks and paints to include a diverse range of products, including adhesives, building materials, paper processing agents, reinforced plastics and textile finishing agents. The establishment of JRC was thus a value-adding move for the Company. JRC was the second example of a joint venture between a local company and an overseas partner in the history of the Japanese chemicals industry. JRC also pointed to the Company's ability to accurately predict business trends and choose the optimum time to undertake the establishment of joint ventures.
1957Integrated production system established in response to strong growth in the synthetic resins business
The synthetic resins business rapidly evolved into a third pillar of operations for Dainippon Printing Ink Manufacturing Co., Ltd., comparable to its printing inks and chemicals businesses. With the aim of further growing the business and cultivating new demand, the Company entered the market for plastic molded and processed products and set about creating an integrated production system encompassing everything from raw materials through to finished products. To this end, the Company established business ties with a middle-ranking manufacturer of plastic molded and processed products, including cosmetics containers and helmets, that would later become a key member of the DIC Group.
Building on its success, the Company also began producing building materials; die-cast products, such as pipes; injection-molded products, notably transport packaging; and blow-molded products, including polyethylene containers. This episode thus formed the foundation for the subsequent establishment of the Company's plastics and building materials businesses.
- 1952 Establishes Japan Reichhold Chemicals Inc. (JRC) in a joint venture with Reichhold Chemicals Inc. of the United States
- 1954 Concludes technology cooperation agreement with Sun Chemical Corporation of the United States
- 1957 Enters the market for helmets and other plastic molded products
- 1958 Establishes office in Hong Kong, its first overseas office in the postwar period
- 1959 Begins commercial production of plastic colorants and colored compounds
- 1962 Absorbs Japan Reichhold Chemicals Inc. (JRC) and changes Company name to Dainippon Ink and Chemicals, Incorporated (DIC)
- 1962 Exports technology to Australian manufacturer of inks
- 1965 Establishes representative office in Singapore (followed by local subsidiary in 1968)
- 1966 Establishes representative office in New York
Expansion into the petrochemicals business—Globalization of core businesses and entry into new fields
1968Launch of the DIC Color Guide, a new benchmark for the printing industry
Having provided printers with free print samples for 338 colors for many years and recognizing the usefulness of these samples in selecting colors, in July 1968 Dainippon Ink and Chemicals, Incorporated (DIC), as the Company was now called, commenced sales of the DIC Color Guide, its first full-scale color sample book, comprising 641 color chips and a mixing chart.
Under the direction of Ikko Tanaka, Tadahito Nadamoto and Mitsuo Katsui—luminaries in the field of graphic design in Japan at the time—641 basic colors were chosen from among 3,000 candidate colors and presented in attractive, inspiring combinations, rather than simply in lists.
The color chips in the DIC Color Guide, each of which bears the DIC name, would play an important role in subsequent years in bolstering recognition of DIC's printing inks business and of its position as a leading name in the field of color engineering.
1968DIC develops production method for epoxy resins using an innovative home-grown technology that makes effective use of petroleum fractions
The properties of epoxy resins, including excellent chemical resistance, adhesion and electric non-conductance, make them particularly suitable for such applications as molding materials, adhesives and coatings. At this time, they were also becoming increasingly important in such cutting-edge areas as integrated circuits and computers. With leading companies in Europe and the Americas having secured a monopoly on patents related to the production and use of epoxy resins formed using propylene as a starting material, potential new market entrants faced considerable obstacles. DIC responded by undertaking to develop an original method. These efforts led to the establishment in 1968 of a highly innovative process that used butane-butylene (B-B) fractions—byproducts of the cracking and conversion of naphtha into ethylene—as a starting material. Groundbreaking because it facilitated the effective use of petroleum fractions, as well as because it was developed entirely in Japan, the new technology was widely reported in the press, creating quite a sensation. The completion of a newly built plant in 1971 paved the way for DIC to launch production of epoxy resins.
1970Development of Daicure, Japan's first UV-curable ink
With conventional printing inks, drying and adhesion is a time-consuming process that requires ink components to penetrate through to the print substrate and cure by way of a chemical reaction from exposure to oxygen in the atmosphere. As a consequence, such inks are not suited to printing on plastic sheets, metal foils and other such substrates made from impermeable materials. With heatset inks, there is the additional risk of substrate deterioration and deformation during the drying process.
In 1970, DIC developed Daicure, a UV-curable ink containing a highly sensitive resin photoinitiator, facilitating instantaneous curing and setting with the application of UV light. In addition to broadening the range of substrates suitable for printing, Daicure promised to improve productivity and print quality, among others. Since it contained no solvents, the new ink also attracted attention for its environmental benefits.
A public demonstration of Daicure was carried out shortly after its development was announced. Here, the new ink garnered high marks from the approximately 130 printing companies from across Japan in attendance.
1973DIC develops high-performance, long-lasting nematic LCs
In the early 1970s, the race to develop new and better home electronics products had spurred intense competition worldwide to develop LCs, recognized at the time as the next generation of display materials. Because of their low viscosity and high fluidity, nematic LCs were seen as particularly promising for practical application in displays.
In 1973, DIC introduced nematic LCs with a useful life of 10,000 hours, becoming the first company in the world to commercialize nematic LCs that delivered a commercially viable level of performance. This achievement earned the Company considerable praise both in Japan and overseas.
In the same year, Sharp Corporation launched the Compet (EL-805), the world's first pocket electronic calculator incorporating a liquid crystal display (LCD) made with liquid crystals supplied by DIC—an achievement that was to usher in the age of LCDs.
1986In a bid to reinforce its global competitiveness, DIC acquires the graphic arts materials division of U.S. firm Sun Chemical
In December 1986, DIC acquired the graphic arts materials division of Sun Chemical Corporation, a leading U.S. chemicals firm, with which it had enjoyed a cooperative business relationship since 1954. At the time, the division, which had reported fiscal 1985 sales of approximately $560 million—accounting for 63% of Sun Chemical's net sales for the year—and operating income of about $40 million, qualified as the largest manufacturer of printing inks and organic pigments in the United States, in terms of both business scale and performance.
With the acquisition, DIC took over the Sun Chemical company name, head office and central R&D laboratory, as well as the graphic materials division's 13 production and sales facilities and 3,800 employees in the United States and overseas. This transformed DIC into the world's top manufacturer of printing inks, with a global market share of 13%, and the third-largest manufacturer of organic pigments. These two businesses, combined with its printing supplies business, meant that DIC was now the world's largest manufacturer of graphic arts materials.
- 1968 Begins sales of the DIC Color Guide
- 1968 Develops groundbreaking production method for epoxy resins
- 1969 Starts manufacturing polystyrene
- 1969 Establishes Dainippon Ink & Chemicals (Europe) GmbH
- 1970 Enters the market for coextruded multilayered films for packaging
- 1970 Develops UV-curable ink
- 1970 Establishes Dainippon Ink & Chemicals, Americas, Inc. (USA) and Dainippon Ink & Chemicals (HK) Ltd.
- 1973 Enters the market for liquid crystals (LCs)
- 1978 Launches Linagreen Spirulina-based nutritional supplement
- 1979 Acquires U.S. graphic arts materials manufacturer Polychrome Corp.
- 1980 Begins production of polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) compounds
- 1980 Establishes representative office in Sydney
- 1982 Develops fluorinated foam fire extinguishing agents
- 1985 Establishes representative office in Seoul
- 1986 Acquires the graphic arts materials division of Sun Chemical Corporation of the United States
- 1987 Acquires Reichhold Chemicals Inc. of the United States
Intensive efforts to respond to increasing concern for the environment—Expansion of operations in the PRC
1997DIC responds to demands from manufacturers seeking to comply with Japan's new law for the recycling of specified home appliances
Prompted by the increasing awareness of environmental concerns, manufacturers of home electronics appliances and office automation (OA) equipment in the late 1990s had begun to incorporate the concept of recyclability into product design by, for example, choosing to use recoverable plastics. However, detaching the industrial adhesive tapes used to affix parts for disassembly and recycling required considerable effort and cost. Finding ways to reduce both was thus a key challenge for manufacturers.
In 1997, DIC introduced a double-coated industrial adhesive tape (#8800CH) made with newly developed acrylic adhesive and a tensile strength–boosting nonwoven fabric substrate that delivered both reliable adhesion during use and easy peel-off for disassembly—seemingly incompatible performance features.
This new product quickly attracted the attention of home electronics appliances manufacturers struggling to ensure compliance in advance of the enactment of Japan's upcoming Law for the Recycling of Specified Kinds of Home Appliances. Orders for the new industrial adhesive tape mounted quickly as one manufacturer after another elected to adopt the new adhesive tape.
1999Spurred by rising awareness of environmental issues, DIC develops a 100% vegetable oil–based printing ink
With awareness of environmental issues on the rise, ink manufacturers had been vying for some time to develop environment-friendly printing inks made with vegetable oils instead of petroleum-based solvents. While these efforts had yielded products with a solvent content as low as 10%, instability and a marked slowdown in drying speed continued to prevent the absolute elimination of solvents in favor of vegetable oil.
In 1999 DIC succeeded in developing New Champion Naturalith 100, a 100% vegetable oil–based ink. To facilitate this achievement, DIC increased the molecular weight and modified the molecular structure of the synthetic resins it used, an approach that enabled the elimination of solvents without compromising drying speed, thereby eradicating volatile organic compound (VOC) content except for those contained in auxiliary agents—less than 1% of total volume.
New Champion Naturalith 100 earned DIC an Award of Excellence and a Nikkei Industrial Daily Award in the 1999 Nikkei Superior Products and Services Award, sponsored by Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc., publisher of Japan's leading financial and business dailies. This was the first time either award had been given to a company in the inks industry.
- 1989 Succeeds in developing high-performance deoxygenating membrane
- 1990 Opens the Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art
- 1996 Establishes representative office in Vietnam
- 1997 Develops recyclable pressure-sensitive industrial adhesive tapes
- 1998 Establishes Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG) in a joint venture with Eastman Kodak Company of the United States
- 1999 Succeeds in developing 100% vegetable oil–based printing ink
- 1999 Acquires Coates, the printing inks division of France's TOTALFINA
- 2001 Establishes holding company DIC Asia Pacific Pte Ltd in Singapore, to oversee graphic arts materials operations in Asia (except Japan)
- 2002 Builds mother plant for printing inks and organic pigments in Nantong, in the PRC
- 2002 Builds plant to produce synthetic resins for coatings in Zhongshan, in the PRC
- 2003 Establishes DIC (China) Co., Ltd., a holding company for DIC Group companies in the PRC
- 2005 Builds plant to produce synthetic resins and plastic colorants in Zhangjiagang, in the PRC
- 2005 Redeems capital interest in joint venture KPG
- 2005 Sells stake in Reichhod
The beginning of a new chapter
2008DIC Changes Company Name
Established on February 15, 1908, as a manufacturer of printing inks, DIC is celebrating its centennial anniversary this year. Over the past 100 years, DIC has evolved into a leading manufacturer of fine chemicals with operations that include printing inks, organic pigments, synthetic resins, high-performance products, and electronics and information materials. Early to establish operations overseas, DIC has also grown into a multinational corporate group comprising more than 200 companies in approximately 60 countries.
Taking advantage of the opportunity provided by its centennial anniversary, DIC has refocused its attention on accelerating growth by strengthening its Group capabilities and global business development, restructuring its business portfolio and reforming its corporate structure. Accordingly, with the aim of promoting a greater sense of cooperation among DIC Group companies and reinforcing global recognition, DIC made the decision to change its name to DIC Corporation. The name “Dainippon Ink and Chemicals, Incorporated” has a long history and proud heritage, and the Company has long been known both in Japan and overseas as “DIC.” The new name will allow DIC to continue maximizing its considerable brand assets, while at the same time it reinforces DIC’s image as a global organization. Going forward, DIC will take assertive steps to promote “DIC” as its corporate brand.
- 2008 Changes Company name to DIC Corporation
- 2009 Integrates domestic printing inks business with The Intec Inc. and establishes joint venture DIC Graphics Corporation