An important segment of human practices is the integration of suggestions and advice learned from experts into our own project. Our team contacted potential stakeholders such as the Warwick Printing Company and worked to incorporate information learned from the interview into the experimental procedures of our project. To delve into the business realm, we also reached out to a business liaison at the University of Lethbridge. Overall, the advice from the different experts greatly improved the project design.
Warwick Printing Company
This year, team members received the opportunity to interview the president of a local printing business here in Lethbridge. Warwick Printing Company is a company that prints to consumer demand, printing books, posters, and any other paper material. President Dave Warwick had a number of useful pointers to give to us about our product that we then took into consideration. For example, when asked about the possibility of using our product in his company, he stated that as long as our ink remained consistent throughout uses, and remained cost efficient, it was a possibility. His advice on looking at consistency when developing our product helped us to consider a method of checking the ink’s consistency in the creation of our ink. In addition, Warwick shed light on the effects that the recent increase in technology has had on his business. He explained how technology has been working with his company, not against it, and advised how the printing industry has nothing to fear in technology. Overall, the advice received from this interview was very helpful in the designing of our product. This has influenced our decision making process regarding the creation of ink. For example, after hearing Mr. Warwick’s suggestions for our ink, we decided to implement quality control tests, such as photobleaching, to compare our ink to the inks found in the current market.
Interviewing Dave Warwick led to the arrangement of a tour of their facility. On July 12, 2017, members of our team were given a tour of the Warwick Printing building. We were lucky enough to have the president of the company, Dave Warwick, be our tour guide. He took us through the entire building, starting with the design area. This was a section in the building for workers to create designs for customers and other business affiliations. Mr. Warwick then proceeded to show us the printers that they used for the company, including printing presses and other printers used for digital printing. The printers they used were very large compared to the size of the average household printer.Their digital printers used toner, a powdered form of pigmentation, while their printing press used ink, a liquid form of pigmentation. He shared some interesting facts with the team, like how black is the most used color by consumers, allowing for two black ink cartridges to exist in the digital printers instead of one. In another part of the building there was the printing press, which Mr. Warwick specifically explained can only print one color at a time. Four press sheets were used for the four different colours of the CMYK colour theory. There was also a printer that could print more colors at once. In addition to this, Mr. Warwick showed us a matching color palette given to a customer to allow them to choose a desired color for the product being made. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is the standard of colour for all ink production. He explained to us how the different types of ink, depend on specific applications. For example, the ink used by the Warwick company is not the same as what we plan to provide for a proof of concept, the fountain pen. They use an ink that is a very thick liquid, almost solid. They then proceed to mix it with water and a chemical to use in their printers. Overall, this tour was helpful to our team’s knowledge in the printing business, as well as in ink marketing and production. We gained a greater understanding on the ways that ink is used in the printing industry and the different standards for the ink.
Best Environmental Practices
Figure 1: Global investment in alternative
energy sources since 2006(3).
The problem that our project is solving is the harmful byproducts of ink pigment production. The most common colorant used in ink today is Carbon Black. Carbon Black is produced by the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons such as oil or natural gas(1). This results in other byproducts such as: Carbon monoxide(2), VOC’s and PCB’s. The basis of our project is to create an alternative source of colorants and pigments which will reduce the need for Carbon Black production and reduce the frequency of these harmful practices. Our use of synthetic biology to produce the pigments will allow us to have a minimal amount of byproducts, which include Carbon dioxide and cellular debris. Our project will become more applicable in the industry as the world moves away from the use of petroleum, as more money is being invested into sources of renewable energy, as shown in Figure 1.
This graph reveals that the global community is putting increasing importance on the need for alternative sources of energy. Investment has increased significantly in the past decade, from $7 billion in 2000, to $154 billion in 2010(4). This increase in investment will eventually result in less demand for petroleum-based energy, which will in turn result in a decrease in the availability of the Carbon Black pigment. This is when a product such as our own will flourish in the ink industry and its related sectors.
Interview with Dr. Greg Vilk
Members of our team had the amazing opportunity to interview Dr. Greg Vilk, who has a phD in biochemistry and works in the liaison office at the University of Lethbridge. During the meeting, a discussion on how our project would develop as a business took place, allowing us to gain more information on how patents and other intellectual properties work. As well, Mr. Sean Roberts and Mr. Keith Aiken were also in attendance during the meeting, adding more perspectives and ideas during the discussion.
In regards to Intellectual Property (IP), we learned of the different types that it can include, such as trademarks, trade secrets, and patents. Dr. Vilk discussed of how the different types of IP can be used together to create value for the product. Moving on to patents, we learned of a public database (lens.org) to search for pre-existing patents on the different enzymes, and parts of our construct. This is crucial as if a patent already exists, it will be difficult for us to use in a business. The discussion then turned to looking at the commercialization viewpoint of iGEM. If our ink production did turn into a business, who would obtain the profits, iGEM or our team? This led to realizing that the best option is to enter a partnership with iGEM to benefit both parties, if a business were to develop.
The conversation then turned to marketing. As the largest benefit in our pigment production is the friendliness to the environment, this would be the angle that our marketing would be based upon. It was also suggested for our team to focus on the successful production of just one pigment instead of all four, as this is an example of minimum viable product. This means that the minimum is achieved to push customers to purchase our product. As well, the showcasing of our product would be simple. For example, as a pen, or even a finger dipped into the ink. The only purpose is to show that successfulness of our product.
Overall, the interview with Dr. Vilk, Mr. Roberts, and Mr. Aiken was successful. Most members of our team do not have a business background, and this discussion opened our eyes into the business realm.
(1) Manufacturing Process of Carbon Black. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2017, from http://www.carbonblack.jp/en/cb/seizou.html
(2) Bbc.co.uk. (2017). BBC Bitesize - GCSE Chemistry - Products and effects of combustion - Revision 1. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/education/guides/z6xbkqt/revision [Accessed 28 Oct. 2017].
(3) GLOBAL TRENDS IN RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTMENT 2015. (2015). Frankfurt: UNEP Global Trends In Renewable Energy Investment.
(4) Eyraud, Luc, and Benedict Clements. “Going Green FINANCE & DEVELOPMENT, June 2012, Vol. 49, No. 2.” Finance & Development, June 2012 - Going Green, IMF.org, June 2012, www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2012/06/eyraud.htm. Vol. 49, No. 2