Popularity of UV in wide format will continue to increase

Fujifilm UV printer at Neat Graphics

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Sandeep Thanawala of Neat Graphics
Sandeep Thanawala of Neat Graphics

The popularity of UV technology in wide format printing is gradually increasing and this trend will continue in the future as well and cost will become affordable, according to Sandeep Thanawala of Neat Graphics.

Neat Graphics has made a name in the wide format printing segment ever since it came in existence in 2015. Before venturing into the wide format space, Neat Graphics was a pre-press bureau supplying CtP plates to printers like Jak Printers. “We decided to shift away from pre-press because the market was saturated,” says Thanawala.

Thanawala relocated to Thane and bought a brand-new Fujifilm Acuity Advance Select HD4006 with roll-to-roll option and a Gbos laser unit which were placed at the new plant. Neat Graphics prints on substrates such as wood, acrylic, ceramic and glass among others. Lenticular printing is also something the Neat Graphics specializes in.

UV technology gaining currency
According to Thanawala, the popularity of UV technology in wide format printing in India is becoming popular due to factors such as the environmentally friendly nature of the technology.

“The installations base in India of UV printers in wide format segment is increasing because many big brand owners now demand this. This is seen in a lot of smaller towns as well. Although costs are still high compared to traditional technologies, I feel cost will come down as we go forward,” he says.

Samples printed by Neat Graphics
Samples printed by Neat Graphics

What attests Thanawala arguments is the fact that Fujifilm recently announced that it has managed to have an installation base of 70 Acuity flatbed printers in India. The installation base is spread across more than 26 cities in India with impressive number of installation in tier-2 cities such as Allahabad, Trichy, Surat and Sangli, to name a few. In April, Fujifilm unveiled a dedicated website (www.powerofinkjet.in) for customers in the inkjet printing segment. The unveiling was done by Thanawala who is one of Fujifilm’s most important customers in the presence of SM Ramprasad, head of department – Graphics Arts division, Fujifilm India.

Increasing competition – a challenge
Rising installation base means popularity of a technology, but it also means greater competition, says Thanawala.

“Fujifilm has notched up 70 installations of Acuity flatbed printers and there are other brands as well in the market. So, it means there are already good number of UV printers in India. There is a shift happening towards UV and therefore this installation will only grow as costs decline. However, this will lead to greater competition. But that is just the part of business,” Thanawala concludes.

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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