Digital label presses have delivered smiles during the pandemic

Label industry review – Let’s reveal those who heal

Reveal those who heal, digitally produced stickers help identify health workers and bring a smile to Covid-19 patients. image website
Reveal those who heal, digitally produced stickers help identify health workers and bring a smile to Covid-19 patients. image website

Digital print and digital label presses have been useful during the pandemic because they could be run by a single person, didn’t need plates to be made and the prepress design and workflow could be done by an operator working from home. Labels for multiple SKUs with short-runs and even those including variable end-of-line markings could be printed.

In India, digital printers have also brought a much-needed smile to front line health workers, nurses, doctors, and their Covid-19 patients. As Dr Sharmila said, “If I can’t recognize my staff, I can only imagine how patients must feel having nurses and physicians coming in and not being able to differentiate who is who.” she says. Her idea was simple: have staff members stick smiling pictures of themselves so that patients can see their faces.

A special website and process was established by several partners including HP printers which delivers stickers free of charge to the doorsteps of health workers. The site says, “We needed special material in accordance with the standards of the medical center, and we decided to go ahead with HP’s Indigo Prints, printed on a special environment-friendly media appropriate for use in sensitive environments like hospitals and flights.”

Unit assistant Jagan says it’s also helpful among staff members, who may not immediately recognize who is working alongside them. “It’s nice for co-workers to be able to see a friend who is still here.”

But the focus is on making the patients feel as comfortable as possible. “We’re the only ones the patients have right now, so when you smile behind your protective equipment, you hope your eyes are showing it,” Pankaj from Vysmo says. “But at least in the picture, it’s a reflection of your eyes and smile, the care, the comfort you want to offer patients knowing their families are not able to be with them.”

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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