Kurz acquires Steinemann to expand digital enhancement

Digital decoration and enhancement key to growth of digital print

Kurz has acquired the print finishing division of Switzerland-based Steinemann Technology
Kurz has acquired the print finishing division of Switzerland-based Steinemann Technology

Kurz has acquired the digital print enhancement and finishing division of Switzerland-based Steinemann Technology. Steinemann based in St Gallen, is a manufacturer and distributor of wide-belt sanding machines for the panel industry and UV varnishing and lamination machines for the print and packaging industry. At LabelExpo Brussels in 2017, the Steinemann digital enhancement module was launched as a part of the Heidelberg Gallus Labelfire digital press. Digital enhancement or postpress decoration is the fast rising ancillary segment in the label, commercial digital printing, carton and even the flexible packaging industry.

Kurz which is well known as the leader in metallic inks and foil decoration intends to run the division as an independent subsidiary. It plans to use the Steinemann brand alongside its own digital metal products family. The company will support the full range of Steinemann print finishing machines, supplementing them with its own complementary services.

Kurz broadly sees the Steinemann acquisition as the next step to its own pioneering work in digital foiling. The Steinemann digital foil enhancement device renders high product quality with flat or raised foil and embossing effects at speeds up to 40 meters a minute.

In India, Steinemann has sold a number of laminators that are mainly used by carton printers for laminating metallized polyester on paperboard before printing. Kurz is present in India as a major supplier of metallic inks and foils for decoration of print.

Digital enhancement and decoration technologies include the market leader Scodix and MGI as well as Landa’s Metallography that was shown at drupa 2016 and subsequently acquired by Altana’s Actega coatings division. Short run digital printing is amenable to great value addition as it is often used for novelty and luxury print. Products such as wedding photobooks can easily absorb the cost of high quality decoration and enhancement using metallic and embossed effects. Product premiumization using labels with decorative effects are also in high demand.

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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