Digital – from signage to textile to packaging

Perfect Scan optimistic about textile printing

Nitin Gami alongside the new Skyjet SDL 3300 at Perfect Scan

Perfect Scan was established in 1988 in Indore with a treadle letterpress. It recently moved to a new purpose built plant on the outskirts of the city. Now focussed on digital printing, it has become one of the biggest digital printing units in Central India.

Perfect Scan owns the first and only Skyjet UV inkjet printer in the country for back-to-back UV printing on a wide variety of materials. The Chinese manufacturer Skyjet has sold more than 20 units of the Skyjet UV two-sided inkjet to printers in Germany. Moreover, Skyjet claims that with its patented technology, it is the only company to sell back-to-back UV wide-format inkjet printers. This machine allows printing on both the front and back sides on a single module.

Printed samples kept in the product display area at Perfect Scan
Printed samples kept in the product display area at Perfect Scan

Previously, the company owned a solvent-based HP printer for front and back output. After installing the UV Skyjet printer, Perfect Scan expanded its customer base by acquiring new clients such as Samsung and Asian Paints. The Skyjet can print on vinyl, transparent vinyl, flex and fabric for soft-signage that has caught on with brand owner eschewing the use of plastic and vinyl substrates. Perfect uses fabric supplied by Arvind Mills for its soft signage printing. The 3.2-meter wide machine prints at 400 square feet an hour while simultaneously printing back-to-back UV inks.

Textile printing on a growth path

After purchasing the Skyjet press, the company is experiencing more demand in the textile printing segment. “Corporates are now coming to us asking for printed textiles. We are supplying digitally printed textiles and fabrics to Asian Paints and Samsung. After we installed this machine on 4 June 2019, the Madhya Pradesh government said that government work will no longer be printed on flex. The government has strictly passed a rule that all its print work for signage will be done on the fabric keeping environmental concerns in mind. That turned out to be in our favor.

“The coming days are going to be extremely good for textile and fabric printing. The increasing awareness on the ill-effects of using other substrates that can potentially harm the environment has been pushing textile signage printing ahead. Although we don’t yet have much volumes, textile printing which is a small part of our business right now will certainly grow in the future,” says Nitin Gami, managing director of Perfect Scan.

Konica Minolta’s unmatched post-sale services

The company also owns two Konica Minolta digital production presses, a c8000 and a bizhub press c3070P. A digital printer since drupa 2000, Gami says, “We have a very good relation with Konica Minolta and hence we made repeat investments in KM. We sell products and not prints, and that is the reason why we don’t consider fasma while purchasing machines. The sole reason behind opting for KM is the unmatched post-sale services that it provides and of course the print quality that one may achieve on its machines.”

Perfect may go for Scodix after careful evaluation

The company also has UV flatbed Starfire solvent-based and HP Latex wide format printers. It produces various types of wedding stationery and writing pads of the digital production presses. Although it does not yet use any enhancement devices, Perfect is interested in foiling.

“I have had a look at some machines. The Scodix supplied and supported by Monotech India, for instance, is a good machine for us. But we will take some time before finalizing the purchase. It will be a huge investment for a city like Indore and, hence, before going ahead we have to evaluate the conditions carefully,” Gami adds.

Digital’s increasing importance

Gami just moved to the company’s new unit on the outskirts of Indore in January 2019. “Our actual concern was that most customers look at a digital printing unit as a photocopy shop. We wanted people to know that digital printing is much more than that. According to my observation, in the West, digital printing has had an upper hand over other forms of printing for quite some time.

“Every now and then, a new technology comes in the digital printing space. A dedicated digital printer has to keep up with the constant change in technology and implement it at his unit. To learn to use new technology and produce quality print every now and then is not easy at all. This increases the value of a digital printer a lot. Also, every technology we invest in undergoes evaluation on many fronts. We have to invest in technology keeping in mind to upgrade it after 3 to 4 years. However, I feel there is a huge scope in digital and we must explore it efficiently,” explains Gami.

Diversification to packaging

Perfect produce cylindrical cartons and containers. Nevertheless, Gami feels that with Indore being a hub for pharma, he is extremely optimistic about a stint in pharma packaging in the future. “The pharma industry in Indore is pretty huge. All the pharma companies follow a particular pattern. For export samples, a company requires 50 cartons to start with, which the offset printers take close to 7 days to deliver. We can print and supply the same number of cartons in 2 days because we have a digital printer, a cutting machine, and an offline UV unit. With this kind of setup, I feel that we can supply short-run litho-laminated cartons pretty efficiently.

“We may even invest in a web-fed digital label press in the future as the demand is increasing. But again, we have to see if we have a customer who can consume such quantities. We will never invest in technology which compels us to increase our volume. We want to continue in the short-run segment,” Gami concludes.

Correction issued on 29 August 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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