Mumbai canvassers bring digital print capability in-house


Demand for short-run print jobs has been on the rise for some years now, resulting in many traditional printers boosting their digital printing infrastructure. Customers now want quick delivery and customization. This trend has also led to proliferation of digital print shops in not only bigger cities but also tier-1 and -2 cities across the country. The installation base for digital printing presses continues to grow in India’s commercial center of Mumbai. Recently, two Mumbai-based print canvassers decided to bring digital printing capabilities in-house to have better control on the services they were providing to customers.

Cotton Green based Image Compu Art has set up a new division called Thrive Prints, which will handle all print-related work. Earlier, Image Compu Art was handling the whole chain, from designing to delivery. All printing jobs, both offset and digital, were being outsourced to third-party printers but looking at the growing demand for short-run jobs, Image Compu Art decided to buy a Ricoh PRO C5100s and bring the digital printing part in-house under the new entity. While the designing part will be taken care of by Image Compu Art, all offset printing jobs will continue to be outsourced to third-party vendors.

“Although about 65% the jobs we get are still offset, the point to note is that this share was about 80% few years back. Share of digital print jobs has been steadily rising, which led us to buy a digital press,” says Hitesh Shah, who manages both Image Compu Art and Thrive Prints.

With the new digital press in-house, Shah hopes to make better returns compared to what he did when jobs were outscored since it will eliminate the share which went to the third party. He also expects to serve his customers better as he can now have a better control of the process. Image Compu Art has customers in pharma, garments and cosmetics segments for whom it prints brochures, catalogs, promotional items, etc. “We have invested in an entry-level printer since we wanted to get familiar with the digital printing process. Now our aim is to recover the cost of this press as fast as possible and then upgrade to a more advanced press,” Shah says.

The Ricoh PRO C5100s can print full-color or black-and-white documents at up to 65 prints per minute and has color image resolution up to 1200 x 4800 dpi. It can manage a wide range of media up to 13 inch x 19.2 inch.

Shah informs that in the next phase of investment, he wants to bring finishing capabilities in-house. This year Shah expects to buy lamination, punching and cutting machines.

Andheri-based Soham Enterprises installs Ricoh PRO C7100
Another Mumbai-based canvasser, Soham Enterprises, has bought a new Ricoh PRO C7100 4-color production printer. Just like Image Compu Art’s Shah, Soham’s Ratilal Gami too has witnessed rise in demand for short-run jobs in the last couple of years.

Ratilal Gami of Soham Enterprises 

“The volume of short-run print jobs has expanded significantly in recent years. So, it makes sense to have a digital print set up in-house than have those services outsourced. Not only does it make financial sense but also operational sense,” Gami argues.

Ricoh PRO C7100 has a speed of 90 color prints per minute with a resolution of up to 1200 x 4800 dpi.

“We saw demonstrations of Ricoh PRO C7100 at a couple of printers in Andheri East and found the printer to be well suited for jobs that we do such as posters, visual aids, etc.,” Gami states.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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