Shah and Nahar goes conventional in the digital era

presses as the demand for shortConventional offset scores over digital at Mumbai’s print hub

Mayur Gandhi, business development executive, Leo Prints

The Indian Printer & Publisher team caught up with some renowned printers at Shah and Nahar Industrial Estate, dubbed as the Mecca of print industry in Mumbai, to understand the current trends and their preference for future investments with respect to digital and conventional offset press.

During our interaction with various converters, it became evident that there is a growing preference offset press as compared to its digital counterpart. Short run is a new trend that has gained traction in the market. In addition, converters specified the need for color consistency, low cost per print and color gamut close to offset print. These, they said, were the key factors they considered before making any decision to install a press.

According to Dhiren Thakkar, director of Nirman Impresse and Mayur Gandhi, business development executive of Leo Prints, the market for commercial print is witnessing a downward trend, but it cannot be counted as a measurement to gauge the progress of digital presses. Digital has a limitation in terms of size, which doesn’t make it the first preference for printers. Additionally, offset prints are cheap as compared to digital prints. When the quantity increases, the print cost comes down in offset but in digital, click charges consume a share of price. The high cost of a digital press job is another factor that can’t be ignored.

No printer can afford to lose a client and they try hard to fulfill every requirement of the customer irrespective the job quantity. Echoing a similar statement, Bhavesh Devda, owner of Skyprint comments, “There is tremendous competition and client demands are soaring too. Digital press is a good option for urgent job requirements but for mass production, one turns to offset. Mass production gives leverage to business. Additionally, small quantity can also be viable with offset.”

Although the Shah and Nahar area is still primarily dominated by offset printers, in recent years many have turned their focus to digital presses as the demand for short-run jobs has increased significantly.  Siddharth Wala, partner at Chandana Graphics and a user of both digital and offset presses, believes that the trend in the industrial estate is inclined towards a mix of offset and digital presses. He opines, “Most of the new players may go with digital presses but offset will never become obsolete. No doubt, the quality one gets out of a digital press is as good as offset but often, clients request for offset print if they desire better print quality.”

Ashok Shah of Manifold Graphics, who recently installed digital presses, feels the general tendency is mostly towards offset press. The prime reason to believe it is that offset print is less expensive as compared to digital print and with latest upgrading technologies such as autoplate loader and a few others, offset press significantly reduces sheet wastage and achieves precise print results. “For long, it’s been said that inkjet will be the leading technology in the market, but still there have been recent installations of offset presses in the estate.”

However, efficient workflow for print production was ignored by many, perhaps owing to space constraints or easy availability of prepress and postpress services at other galas. Many printers echoed the same sentiment that offset will be around for a long time and emphasized on having both digital and offset presses in their units.

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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