Five Fespa awards to Indian printers

Fespa 2018

Fespa messe Berlin
Fespa messe Berlin

Even though Fespa’s Global Print Expo has been reduced from five to four days, this year’s edition in Berlin has been packed like never before. As many as 720 exhibitors compacted in nine halls, with 115 additional exhibitors in the adjacent European Sign Expo and close to 23,000 visitors. While the Global Print Expo covers its classical triad of screen, textile and digital printing, Sign Expo focuses on non-printed visual communication, a combination that is particularly relevant for companies active in industrial printing, textile printing, display- and sign-making, and the production of Point-of-Purchase items. Originally a very European setup, both events have increasingly been determined by Asian manufacturers, particularly from Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan, but in Berlin a strong trend towards companies based in Russia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East could be observed. The number of Indian exhibitors has also been on the increase, this time.

A daily five-hour seminar program—the Fespa Digital Corrugated Experience Conference—pointed participants at the rapidly rising application of corrugated board in displays and Point-of-Purchase products. At the conference sessions, the major business trends—short runs, versioning, customization—were confronted with the technologies enabling these: file management, substrate selection, ink types, digital printing technologies, coating, and finishing.

In addition to the mainly Japanese multinationals dominating this market and other companies represented by their European subsidiaries, the official statistics for both trade shows included 80 exhibitors from China and Hong Kong, 20 from Korea, 12 from Taiwan, 5 from India, and 3 based in Thailand and Singapore.

A regular face at Fespa, Noida-based ColorJet presented its recent Vulcan UV, a 7-color roll-to-roll printer in three versions: the 3201, a 3.2 meters wide entry-level printer with 7 Kyocera printheads, the 3202, a 3.2 meters wide high-end printer with 14 printheads, and the 5 meters wide 5002. The Vulcan UV is based on CMYK plus light magenta, light cyan and white, with CWC white technology to keep color hues identical when unlit in daytime and backlit at night, and Intelligent Pass Optimisation to maintain consistency in the printing of multiple print patterns. The company brought three other presses to the show—a TXF pigment ink printer for fabrics, a Metro production printer and an Aurajet 3.2 meter dye-sublimation printer. With 3,500 installs in India alone, ColorJet claims a 40% market share in the country.

Navratan, based in Ahmedabad and also a regular at Fespa shows, showcased samples of its flex banners, foam boards, inkjet inks, tarpaulins and knitted fabrics.

Listawood from Chennai is the manufacturer of RN Duraglaze, a coating to make dye sublimation prints on ceramic merchandising, such as mugs, dishwasher proof.

Zibo Paper Tech from Gujarat came to Fespa with its range of dye sublimation papers.

Excel Plastics, a manufacturing plant based in Ireland but owned by Jain Irrigation Systems from Jalgaon, showcased a range of PVC foam substrates used in displays, digital printing, shop fittings and interior design.

Two other companies, Eptanova from Italy and Cosign/Lucoled from Belgium, exhibited products manufactured in their respective Indian plants. Eptanova produces inks and coatings, whereas Cosign/Lucoled is a designer and manufacturer of poster frames, displays, LED modules and sign-making tools.

Fespa Awards
At the Fespa Awards event, five of the awards went to Indian companies. In the Functional Printing category, all three prizes went to companies from India. Gold and Silver winner was Protolab Electrotechnologies from Mumbai for screen-printed motorbike autodials and membrane switches for medical applications. The Bronze winner was Keetronics from Pune for a screen-printed Glenfiddich whisky bottle box with an electroluminiscent display. In the Special Effects Garments category, Sri Lakshmi Fashions won Silver for its reverse-embossed, screen-printed design on textile. In the Special Effects Posters category, Print Vision Sainath Polylam won Bronze for a calendar with the Age of Empires theme used as a canvas showing the latest trends in printing.

Viscom, another series of trade fairs for the display- and sign-making industry, can be considered complementary to the Fespa shows, albeit with considerable overlaps with Sign Expo, as Viscom focuses more on ancillary equipment and materials such as processing equipment, milling tools, letter benders, LED technologies, ironmongery and the like. Organized by Reed Exhibitions, Viscom had to change its strategy lately because of insufficient participants. Last year’s Paris edition had been cancelled altogether, and the German edition is to stay in Düsseldorf, combined with PSI, an advertising-agencies-only event on marketing, and a new show, PromoTex, geared at promotional apparel and merchandizing. The upcoming Viscom series has been planned for Paris in September, Milan October 2018, and Düsseldorf January 2019.

Fespa’s next global edition has been planned for 14-17 May, 2019, in Munich, Germany. Other Fespa shows are to take place in Johannesburg, Mexico City, Istanbul, Bangkok and Sao Paulo between September 2018 and March 2019.

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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