Flash Print buys two KM c6085 press with IQ 501

10% increase in customers attributed to IQ 501 inline unit

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JVJ Sartho recently purchased two Konica Minolta AccurioPress c6085 with IQ 501 retrofit. Photo IPP
JVJ Sartho recently purchased two Konica Minolta AccurioPress c6085 with IQ 501 retrofit. Photo IPP

JVJ Sartho’s family owns a coffee plantation in Wayanad in Kerala. After graduation in 1991, Sartho set up his printing business, Flash, in Kochi. After more than a decade, the company expanded to digital printing. Flash started with a Xerox and maintained this relationship for about 15 years.

Last year, Flash bought its first Konica Minolta digital C6085 with IQ. The company wanted to focus on color quality and consistency throughout the print run, which is what the IQ 501 unit in line with the digital press ensures.

Currently, Flash has three digital printing plants, two in Kochi and one in Kozhikode. Flash bought three printers from KM in the past year. It bought a KM c6085 digital production press with the IQ 501 for each of the two Kochi plants. The plant in Kozhikode has a KM c2070 and an older Xerox press. “We opted for the IQ 501 unit for inline color scanning and double-side registration. The color profiles on the IQ 501 can be set with great accuracy, which is very advantageous for digital printers. In other presses, we usually tend to waste at least two to three prints for achieving accurate registration. Since we print ID cards, the print has to be exactly in the middle and only then will the double side print be acceptable to the customer as a payable product,” says Sartho.

According to him, Flash has added 10% to its customer base just because of IQ 501. “The double-sided registration can be achieved with a single click on the machine, which helps us to print faster with less wastage. I’ve seen the press running for exactly one year and I cannot exactly say if it is because of the IQ 501 feature or due to the newness of the machine, but the color so far is very consistent. Usually, the real difference in color and degradation of quality is noticeable only after 20 or 30 lakh prints. So far, we’ve only produced 10 lakh prints, so I cannot say anything for sure as yet,” Sartho adds.

Print market slowdown

For about the last six months, Flash has been facing a decline in print volume and it blames the economic slowdown as a major cause. Nevertheless, Sartho is hopeful that digital printing volumes will go back up by 10 to 15% toward the end of the financial year in March 2020. He indicates that though the last several months have been slow, there have been signs of recovery in November.

Sartho adds that the Kerala festive season demand has not yet arrived and once it does, it will boost the print volumes significantly. Currently, Flash prints close to 50,000 sheets in a month in its main plant in Kochi. The second Kochi plant prints nearly 60,000 sheets a month while the Kozhikode unit supplies more than 90,000 printed sheets in a month. “Now, I’d rather diversify than add more eggs to the same basket by increasing my capacity. I’m looking at expanding my dye sublimation printing capacity and look for more customers. In sublimation, t-shirt printing has a huge market as there is a massive demand in Kerala for printed jerseys,” Sartho concludes.

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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