Apsom launches Coltex and Top Banner digital textile printers in India

High-speed digital textile printing

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Vir Vikram Bhatia (left), managing director, Apsom Technologies
Vir Vikram Bhatia (left), managing director, Apsom Technologies

Apsom Technologies, a manufacturer of digital printing solutions, has been operational in the printing industry since 1994. Initially, the company provided to the signage industry and was a distributor of signage machines, including DGI from Korea, Roland and Mimaki from Japan, and Flora from China.

The company has offices in Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, and Kolkata with headquarters in Mumbai. Vir Vikram Bhatia, managing director, Apsom Technologies, said, “Till 2011 we were into signage, and after that, we diversified into textile printing industry because the printing process in signage and textile is more or less the same and changes with the substrate. We are also into graphics; 40% of our business is still graphics, and 60% is textile printing.”

The company entered the digital textile printing market with Mimaki machines in 2006, but it was in 2011 when it diversified its business in textiles with full force. “In the beginning stages, we distributed Mimaki machines that ran at the speed of 10 meters per hour; from 2011, we started dealing with Konica Minolta machines with a printing speed of 30-40 meters per hour. Now we have machines printing at a speed of 60 meters per minute. We now deal with high-speed textile printers. Recently, we sold a high-speed single-pass textile printer Konica Minolta Nassenger SP1, to Shree Jee, based in Mumbai, during ITMA Barcelona. The machine will be installed by December 2019,” Bhatia explained.

The company launched two digital textile printing machines during Gartex 2019 for the first time in India – Coltex CD – 1800 direct to fabric printer from China with Konica Minolta printheads and Top Banner TB 2380S direct dye-sublimation printer with Seiko printheads. The 72-inch Coltex printer can print 1000 meters per day and is an entry-level printer for printing on natural fabrics, and the 86 inch Top Banner printer can print directly on polyester. Bhatia explained that there are two methods of printing on polyester – transfer through paper or sublimation and direct printing. The sublimation technique is suited for sharp print results, while direct printing renders deep ink penetration in fabric. However, the polyester needs coating before printing irrespective of the printing technique.

Speaking about the Indian textile printing market, Bhatia said, “The North Indian market favors low-cost machines. Noida Gurgaon, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Banaras are the main pockets for textile printing. However, in terms of printing technology, India is a mixed market. There are processing houses that are investing in digital printing machines providing good opportunities for digital high-speed machine providers such as Konica Minolta, Reggiani, MS, and Epson. At the same time, customers want inks, and 60-70% of them don’t bother about the print quality till the price of inks is low. But I think the demand for digital textile printing will grow; as of now, it is at 3%.”

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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