Plug and play LED UV enabled systems could be of interest to Indian dailies

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UV systems

There are already about 12 to 15 newspaper organizations that have installed UV for printing full saturation color on high brightness or glazed newsprint on their presses. Used for full page advertising on the outer pages of main sections and inserts, there are about 40 to 50 systems in place. Systems from Prime, IST and GEW dominate the newspaper UV installations across the country, although some large newspapers have also tried to fabricate and assemble their own systems by sourcing lamps, power supplies, reflectors, large air purifier and cooling system components.

Recent sales of UV systems that come to mind include the sale of several IST systems to Bennett Coleman for their double-width manroland presses in the Sahihabad plant and the sale of three Prime systems for Lokmat in Maharashtra. Lokmat has installed one of the new Prime UV systems on an NBG Offset press in Pune where apart from its own Marathi daily, it will also be printing The Hindustan Times in English for the HT Media Group.

The price of UV systems and UV inks is nevertheless inhibiting the growth of UV in the newspapers. For large circulation dailies published from multiple centers, even the cost of glazed newsprint is a factor to be considered when the advertising premium for glossy output is not really rising. Though locally assembled UV systems can work and are less expensive, even amongst the imported UV systems there is a considerable range of prices. However, if a newspaper is looking for high performance and reliability, it should not underestimate the technology inputs and complexity of the best systems.

There is a high level of expectation for LED UV systems but their application in daily newspapers may take more time simply because of the higher costs of LED UV inks, which cannot yet be easily justified by the premium that glossy color pages bring. While the Indian language newspapers are still growing in circulation, their ad rates are still at a discount compared to the large English national dailies and yield per page has become the mantra for all dailies in a very competitive environment.

Nevertheless, the lower energy costs and longer lamp life of LED UV curing systems are of interest as the expectation of ink prices becoming lower. One possibility, of course, is to buy systems that offer plug-and-play change from conventional UV to LED UV curing simply by changing the lamp within the same power supply, reflector and cooling assembly. IST Metz offers such an option as do GEW and the Greater Noida based UV Graphic Technologies, which is well known for its retrofits. Another upgrade path that cannot be ruled out are multi-wave UV systems that can adapt their radiation to cure a wide range of fit-to-purpose UV inks.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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