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.

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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