NPIRI History

Prior to 1945 the technical issues of NAPIM were handled by a research committee. It was that committee, chaired by Robert Rosen, who proposed that the effort be more formalized and moved to a research body. At the Sept. 1945 annual meeting “it was regularly moved, seconded and carried that a separate organization be formed, to be known as the Printing Ink Research Institute and that a special corporation for that purpose be formed, and that its activity be entirely independent of the National Association of Printing Ink Makers and entirely autonomous”.

There was no requirement that all NAPIM members join the Research Institute and some members did not join. The institute was to be administered by five trustees and a Technical Advisory Committee of five who were responsible to the trustees and would select the projects. The initial chairman was A.J. Math and the additional trustees elected to the institute board were Stuart Braznell and Martin Driscoll. The initial members of the Technical Advisory Committee were G.L. Erikson, James J. Deeney and Albert J. Hentschel.

The first meeting of the Technical Committee was held on Feb. 8, 1946 at Lehigh University with the trustees present at the meeting. In addition to trustees Math and Braznell, John Ellison and Bert Smith had been included. The committee members present were those referenced above with Mr. Erikson as Chairman and the addition of Nat Rosen. It was announced that the Institute would exist at Lehigh and Dr. Bernstein would be the Director with Dr. Zettlemoyer supervising the research. The name of this committee was changed to the Research Committee in 1953.

The first Technical conference was held at Lehigh in 1948. Jackie Fetsko joined the staff at Lehigh in 1949 and began to work with the Institute. In 1968 Dr. Zettlemeyer resigned as NPIRI Research Director after being part of the Institute since its founding in 1946. He was replaced by Dr. William Schaffer who had come to NPIRI in 1955 as Associate Director. Dr. Schaefer moved to GATF as Research Director in 1969 and Dr. Vanderhoff was named the new NPIRI Research Director in 1970.

While there was frequent movement among the Lehigh staff and the member staffing of the various committees, the one consistent, stable element of NPIRI was Jackie Fetsko. She remained with NPIRI until her retirement. There was no activity of NPIRI that did not benefit from Jackie’s involvement. The early years of NPIRI were formative and productive. There were technical reports, presentations and publications. A newsletter, the Ink Spots, was founded and extensive literature reviews were conducted by the staff with distribution to the members. An annual Technical Conference was initiated and later supplemented with an educational summer course. Many standard test methods were developed.

By 1953, NPIRI had four essential and interdependent parts that were contributing to the success of NPIRI: 1) membership (only a portion of NAPIM members); 2) NPIRI Board of Directors; 3) Lehigh staff; and 4) the Research Committee. Research Chairman Werner Gerlach, in a 1953 report to the NPIRI Board listed what he saw as critical elements to a successful research program:

  1. Competent personnel to plan and man the program
  2. Ideas to form the basis of investigations
  3. Facts upon and against which the ideas can be tried and proven
  4. A favorable environment within which the program can be developed
  5. Plentiful money which will give impetus and urgency to the program

The last item was becoming more and more of a problem and prompted consideration of merging NPIRI and NAPIM. The merger was approved in 1954 but it took some time to accomplish with the organizations finally joining, but maintain separate banking, in 1956. The NPIRI Research Committee was organized around sub-committees based on specific subjects.

The NPIRI work was publicized to members and the industry through a NPRI Newsletter (1958), the Ink Spots and the American Ink Maker, in addition to many specific technical reports.

In April 1971, Lehigh opened The Francis MacDonald Sinclair Memorial Laboratory, the home of the National Printing Ink Institute. In addition to a major bequest from the Sinclair estate, many members of the industry provided funding to equip labs, etc. Also in 1971 an Ad Hoc committee of NPIRI was formed to assess the crisis created by key member resignations, loss of revenue and numerous other issues.

As a result of the Ad Hoc committee review there was established a new class of membership, Research Associate Membership for suppliers, the subject sub-committees were revised and the relationship with Lehigh was put on an annual research contract basis.

During the ensuing years the activities directed to technical support increased at the expense of research activity. The Technical Institute was formed which gave suppliers a more active role in the support program which was still directed by a steering committee of NAPIM members and executed by the Lehigh staff. Examples of these activities are the ASTM support, RMDH handbooks, PILT and the summer courses.

In 1985 there was an effort to add to the technical support work some applied research effort. This effort was focused on two groups, one on liquid inks and another on paste inks. At that time F. Micali was the Program Director, J. Fetsko was Technical Administrator and Jean Lavelle was Research Associate. Industry donations were sufficient to support both the work and two fellowships.

After two years of trying this expanded approach it was obvious that the effort was trying to do much, funding could not be sustained and thus it did not seem able to satisfy anyone; the University, NPIRI management or the members.

The NPIRI relationship with Lehigh reverted to certain technical support activities and the summer course. In 1988 the applied research effort started to be conducted by task forces composed of members with the work being done in member laboratories. A part-time technical coordinator, Jack DiPiazza, would oversee the progress of the work and keep the effort moving along. After Jack DiPiazza left in the late 1990’s, Ron Saltzman served as technical coordinator for several years.

The NPIRI Board continues to function today with the major effort devoted to the summer course and the technical conference.