Lustra installs new RMGT 5-color plus coater UV press

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Lustra installs new RMGT 5-color plus coater UV press
Aditya Bhat with the new RMGT offset printing press at the Lustra Print facility in Bahadurgarh

Over the last 32 years from a specialist screen printing business, Lustra Print has emerged as the leading, and perhaps the fastest growing, offset commercial printing companies in the Delhi National Capital Region. Starting out in Naraina, the company grew consistently till it relocated to its new purpose built 55,000 square foot plant in Bahadurgarh in 2011.

Lustra diversified to offset printing in the year 2000 with a second-hand, single-color Heidelberg offset press followed by a used 4-color Heidelberg press the following year. The company’s chairman at the time, UK Raj (who unfortunately passed away recently), spotted a Ryobi press in Switzerland which aroused his curiosity about a Japanese machine in a country known for quality and adjacent to the European manufacturers. The used machine was on sale in the Switzerland market and after careful evaluation, he decided to buy it. The second-hand Ryobi reached Lustra in 2004 and its performance hugely impressed the Lustra team. In 2005, the company purchased a brand new Ryobi in the first of a string of repeat investments that continues to this day.

Soon after they relocated to Bahadurgarh, Lustra’s owners sought help from officials at Ryobi regarding the floor setup and various other workflow and safety factors. By 2011, Lustra was successfully running three Ryobis at the new plant.

After the Mitsubishi and Ryobi sheetfed press merger, known as RMGT, there has been a slight renaming of the press series but Lustra continues to acquire the presses from the combined entity. The company has a 725 series 5-color plus coater, which is a 5-color press with online aqueous coater, a 680 series 4-color press with coater, a 925 series 5-color with coater and a 920 series 4-color with UV curing. It most recently installed a 5-color RMGT 9 series press with interdeck UV and an aqueous coater.

Screen printing keeps growing
Lustra still undertakes screen printing jobs, which is now on the first floor of the new premises. It runs a pair of Keywell screen printing machines together with several machines from the well-known Svecia, which no longer manufactures these machines. “Although screen printing has been our cup of tea right from the beginning, I must say that we haven’t invested much on screen printing unit in our new plant. The new machines are cheaper, with almost no maintenance required and they perform efficiently throughout the year – the reason why we continue to gain a lot from our screen printing unit,” said Aditya Bhat, executive director of Lustra Print. “Screen printing demand has surprisingly increased over the years. Somewhere around 2000, when digital printing reigned supreme, we thought that it would eventually kill screen printing, but to our surprise we started getting more and more demand for screen printing jobs and this growth has continued ever since.”

Diversification only option
Lustra’s partners say that the book printing industry in India is witnessing its worst phase in the last decade as many smaller book publishers are finding it very tough to survive. This has even led to various closures in the sector. “GST and demonetization have left the printing industry paralysed to an extent that it is becoming difficult for small scale printers to survive in the market. They are now looking to diversify to packaging, which is a growing segment. The current scenario in the printing industry leaves small scale commercial printers with no other option but to diversify to different segments,” Bhat added.

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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