KM’s Accurio C6100 and KM1 for top digital segments

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Konica Minolta
Yoshinori Koide

Konica Minolta Business Solutions, headquartered in Gurugram, is a subsidiary of Konica Minolta Business Technologies of Japan. In a short period of six years, the company has achieved the fastest growth in the Indian digital printing industry and has for the past several years enjoyed a dominant or about 50% market share.

In most markets, Konica Minolta’s office multifunction business has the larger share but in India its digital business is the one that is in the limelight. “In India, around 45% of our business is in the office segment. Typically, we make more business in the office segment,” says Yoshinori Koide, director – business planning, Konica Minolta Business Solutions India. The company is also a strong player in the Indian digital textile printing market with a footprint in the region of 50 installations. “I believe that the stronghold of digital textile printing is in Italy and has quickly spread to other markets. Digital textile printing today is quite popular and is picking up in India as well,” says Manish Gupta, deputy general manager, Konica Minotla Business Solutions India.

As far as digital printing is concerned, Konica Minolta has supplied and supported more than 3,500 digital presses to more than 2,000 customers. The company established a strong base with competitive machines at the entry level that have consistently outperformed machines in similar and even higher price and quality segments. This has enabled it to bring in newer and higher specification digital presses with better quality, higher speeds and with capabilities such as longer banner prints and continuous upgrades and up-sell to its established customers.

In the mid-level segment, the Konica Minolta C8000 and C1100 have been selling well in the past two years but have now been replaced by the just launched Accurio C6100, which should within a year of its launch reach annual sales figure of 100 presses given the company’s track record and the continued double-digital growth of the digital print industry in India. The Accurio C6100, which is supplied with a hand-held KM spectrophotometer and an in-line spectrophotometer inside the machine, is able to automatically calibrate the press and make density adjustments while running. Apart from superior built-in color management, the C6100 uses optical devices internally and automatically for front-to-back registration in duplex printing.

KM harish 2A hand-held Konica Minolta spectrophotometer

The print speed of C6100 at 1200 x 1200 is 100 pages a minute and a key feature is the wide range of paper stock from 52 to 400 gsm, and the print on embossed paper and envelopes has been enhanced. Another enhancement is printing on board and paper banners up to 51 inches long, which is apparently a profitable segment for digital printers.

The top digital segment
The Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM1 incorporates the company’s own UV ink, high-performance inkjet print-heads, while the UV ink developed for the B2 press avoids paper problems caused by thermal drying. With high accuracy of front-to-back registration, the single pass inkjet system prints 3000 B2 sheets an hour at a high image quality of 1200 dpi. In the duplex printing mode, the output speed of the machine is 1500 sheets per hour. The KM1, which is now installed in North America, Europe, Japan and China, is likely to be sold if not installed in India within the 2017-18 financial year. This represents Konica Minolta’s entry to the top level of digital printing in the country, where all digital press manufacturers face the twin challenges of capital cost and consumable charges. From what we understood at a recent meeting at Gurugram, Konica Minolta’s click charge for KM1 will only pertain to the cost of maintenance and replaceable parts while the ink will be sold directly by volume.

The Konica Minolta MGS JetVarnish press has already achieved a dozen installs in the Indian market. The MGS JetVarnish 3DS comes with a new varnish formula in combination with Konica Minolta print-heads to create a 3D effect on laminated surfaces or on toner directly at speeds up to 2298 A3 pages per hour. The machine can spot UV or foil on digital prints without any treatment and can cover sheets up to 14.33 inches wide and 40.15 inches long. The high-gloss coating formula of the machine delivers a gloss level of 99% (G.U.).

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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