Pune’s Unique Offset strengthens digital capabilities with two Canon printers

More focus on the digital operations going forward

Mandar Thakurdesai and Nandkumar Navale of Unique Offset with the Canon printers
Mandar Thakurdesai and Nandkumar Navale of Unique Offset with the Canon printers

One of Pune’s leading printers, Unique Offset, has strengthened its digital printing capabilities by installing two brand new presses, one color and one black and white, from Canon. An established name in the printing business in Pune, Unique Offset has been catering to offset printing requirements from visiting cards to flyers to annual reports for close to two decades. It entered the digital printing space in 2014, by bringing in a brand new Ricoh Pro c651ex. The two Canon presses will now replace the Ricoh.

“We used the Ricoh machine for five years, and earlier this year, we thought it was time to go for a replacement and strengthen our digital operations. We did not focus a lot on our digital division over these years, but now the market environment has changed, and we feel our digital printing operations can become an important part of our overall business. That is why we bought a color and a black & white press together,” says Mandar Thakurdesai, one of the partners in the company.

Unique Offset has installed the Canon ImagePRESS C650 color printer, which prints 65 pages per minute and a Canon imageRUNNER Advance 8585 black & white printer, which has a print speed of 85 pages per minute. Both the presses were installed in April this year. These digital printers will complement the two offset presses, Komori Spica 246, installed in 2007, and Komori Lithrone S40, installed in 2010.

Thakurdesai says that during the last five years, Unique was using the digital technology to create samples and dummies for its offset customers and was not thinking on the lines of using this technology to create a separate line of business.

“When we bought the Ricoh, we wanted to use it to cater to the short-run demands of our current offset customers as they were going to a third party for that. Now we realize that with digital technology, we can service a different set of customers as well. In the past few years, we have seen a lot of customers emerge who do not want large print quantities,” Thakurdesai shares.

Nandkumar Navale, the second partner in the firm, says that many publishers now do not want to print large quantities of books or novels as they want to optimize their cost and keep their inventories as low as possible. “There are publishers who want an initial run of just 50 copies. In such a scenario of print of demand, the digital technology comes in handy,” Navale says.

Slowdown apparent in Pune printing market

The downturn in the overall economy is having an impact on the printing market as well, and Pune is not unaffected. The print orders for promotional items for real estate and automobiles sectors have seen a sharp drop, Thakurdesai says.

“We have seen a significant drop in print volumes; this has been going on for nearly a year and has accelerated in recent months. Print orders for promotional items, especially from customers in the automobiles and real estate sectors, have dropped sharply as they cut on their advertising budgets,” Thakurdesai says.

Navale says that the excess capacity in Pune’s print market is exacerbating the situation. “We have seen the entry of a lot of printers in the last five years, which has created huge capacities in the market. Now, with the economy slowing down and print volumes dropping, the situation has become tough,” he says.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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