The Digital Textile Printing Scenario

Future seems bright for textiles

Vinod Krishnamurthy is the chief executive officer of Fortuna Colours & Prints LLP (FCP). Photo IPP
Vinod Krishnamurthy is the chief executive officer of Fortuna Colours & Prints LLP (FCP). Photo IPP

Vinod Krishnamurthy is the chief executive officer of Fortuna Colours & Prints LLP (FCP), a company that has been in business since two decades in the digital textile printing industry. The company has witnessed the evolution of the textile printing industry from a handful of companies to a booming industry that it is today. Krishnamurthy is the sales partner of Mouvent (a Bobst group company) and has also established a service center to manage the complete Mouvent product portfolio. In a conversation with him, Krishnamurthy shares his views on direct textile printing and the current scenario in the market.

1. What seems to be the current scenario of digital printing industry?

Vinod Krishnamurthy: ITMA was held a few months back and I saw quite a variety of machines being offered there for digital textile printing. However, nobody is providing total solutions for digital printing to work efficiently. While the basic requirements are fulfilled, clients have to fend for auxiliaries. However, there is still a huge misconception that digital printing is similar to a photocopy machine. Digital printing is a tool and sellers and about it. Through our consulting service team, we found that many companies who purchased the digital textile printing machines are struggling to get the desired results while many don’t even know what to expect out of the machines. To our surprise, some of the largest textile processing houses who have auxiliary setups have struggled and consulted us to provide them with the right knowledge. It shows the lack and need for knowledge of digital textile printing.

2. Is print head a concern for many?

VK: The key component of a digital printer is the printhead, which also incurs a substantial cost. The cost of printhead is significant in influencing the life, output produced or cost of sales. If a customer has 24 hours production as compared to a client running 8 hours a day, the economics and viability change. The printhead producers need to work on costs and warranties which may help digital printing. The machine and ink prices today are pretty affordable and are no more a barrier.

3: How can we compare the printing costs of two different setups?

VK: I believe that no two projects can have the same running cost as it depends on the whole setup, fabrics and type of design along with the printer and the cost of inks. Customers need to choose a printer based on their business models.

4: What changes do we expect to see in coming times?

VK: The ink prices have come down drastically and machine prices are also fluctuating because of the increasing competition in the market. I think now is the time for printhead providers to bring down its cost and take more responsibility to provide reliable solutions to OEM. This way the industry would grow faster.

In terms of sustainability, we are working with scientists and developing effluent treatment plant (ETP) solutions. This is a serious step from our side to safeguard the environment.

We also want to remove harmful pigments through the effluent treatment plant in a bid to make water fit for reusing. We are also working on new washing techniques to reduce water consumption and are closely working with some of the leading manufacturers of washing lines to achieve the same.

5: Can you give us some insight on the solutions that you provide?

VK: The inkjet printing industry has evolved and technology will stay. However, in the last four years, our consulting company took several projects across India to handle machines of various suppliers where we revamped software solutions, mechanical issues and other problems. The exercise gave us significant insights at the ground level, which is important for success in the long term. During these years we have worked closely with Mouvent to provide their solutions and we have seen success with Orient Fashion being the first beta project in Asia. Vinit Sethi and Amit Sethi have a deep understanding on how to utilize the technology and the responsibility to set up a vertical was on our shoulders. Mouvent today treats them as a partner and not a customer. We have also collaborated with AEOON Austria and we are restructuring the whole business model for Asia. We will be working as an R&D and application development company for placement printing.

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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