Interview – Kentaro Imafuku, head of Fujifilm Graphic Arts in India

Revoria 6-color digital press India launch in October or November

Kentaro Imafuku
Kentaro Imafuku, head of Graphic Arts, Fujifilm India Photo IPP

Our team visited the Fujifilm India headquarters in Gurgaon in mid-September to meet with and interview Kentaro Imafuku, the head of their Graphic Artis division in India, since the beginning of 2020. He came here before the pandemic, and he has been focused on the Indian market during the pandemic. However, in between, he went back to Japan and managed the graphic arts sales and service activity remotely. Naresh Khanna and Girish Anshul spoke to him about Fujifilm India’s activities in offset plates, signage, digital signage printing, and its digital presses, including the company’s recent direct entry in the digital drum and toner production press market.

IPP & PSA – Please comment on your overall experience of India thus far and a bit about whether Fujifilm is still in the offset plate market here.

Kentaro Imafuku – The Indian market is more challenging than other Asian Countries. However, Fujifilm has the benefit of being in many areas of interest to offset printers, digital printers of signage and documents, and packaging with our offset and flexographic plates. 

As far as offset plates, we mainly focus on established packaging printers and high-quality commercial printers with our combination of Superia CtP plates, CtCP plates, and process-less thermal Superia plates. In addition, I will be looking after the entire spectrum of products for the graphic arts market and digital printing, and Fujifilm’s recording media.

IPP & PSA – Kindly tell us a bit about Fuji’s separation from Xerox.

Kentaro Imafuku – Earlier, and for many years there was a joint-venture of Fujifilm and Xerox known as Fuji Xerox, but now Fujifilm is separate and is making its own toner-based digital production presses also in addition to our well-known inkjet digital press, the Fujifilm Jet Press 750S. The new toner-based digital press is also a 100% Fujifilm product, and we have started manufacturing and promoting the products. We will begin the direct sales of our digital toner-based presses through our distributor. Our division sells digital presses, including inkjet and drum, and toner (Xerographic) presses – all this now comes under the division called ‘Fujifilm Business Innovation.’ However, we still have a very good relationship with Xerox.

IPP & PSA – Is there more information about Revoria?

Kentaro Imafuku – A conventional machine can only print four colors in one pass. However, the Revoria Press PC1120 can print up to six colors simultaneously. Fujifilm hopes to alter the production printing market by launching this breakthrough product, which sits atop the digital production-printing segment with its efficiency and precision.

The 6-color print engine gives digital printing unparalleled expressive ability. The Revoria Press PC1120 offers superior productivity with high-speed printing of 120 pages per minute, even in 6 colors. It has high-definition color with a high output resolution at 2400 x 2400 dpi using Fujifilm’s HQ technology. A high-performance print server maximizes the print engine’s productivity. The Revoria supports a broad range of paper stocks, from 52 gsm lightweight paper to 400 gsm heavyweight paper. The paper’s minimum size can be 98 x 148 mm, which goes up to 330 x 1200 mm.

The new digital press can load a maximum of two specialized toner stations in addition to the CMYK toners. Gold, silver, white, and pink toners are available as specialty toners. In addition, you may print a variety of beautiful metallic colors by layering CMYK over silver or gold.

The Revoria suction feeder and static removal device ensure that a wide range of papers, including paper with some paper dust, self-adhesive coated paper, and film, are fed in a highly stable manner. Artificial Intelligence (AI) also allows for camera image adjustments to be made automatically. Each photo image is automatically enhanced based on its current blemishes or fault – such as the image being too dark or too bright. Other enhancements include backlit exposure, skin-tone correction, and bringing out the hues in blue skies.

At Fujifilm the wheel Never Stops!

IPP & PSA – When is the launch?

Kentaro Imafuku – In October or November of this year, Fujifilm can have its formal launch event for the drum and toner Revoria digital press. To create a buzz around the Indian customer, Fujifilm has done a preliminary press release for the market to know about its product.

IPP & PSA – Why would printers buy a digital press from Fujifilm?

Kentaro Imafuku – Fujifilm keeps innovating and developing many solutions for films and plates, inkjet printers, print head technology, and Xerography that is toner technology. We are still very much in the offset plate business, and we are also supplying our Fujifilm Flenex water washable digital flexo plates to a few customers in India. 

With this variety, Fujifilm India is a versatile solution provider, which will become a strong point compared to other companies. Other competitors focus on specific products, one focuses on plates, and the other focuses on toner-based printers. Fuji’s best part is they can adjust depending on the customer’s needs in all these segments. Fujifilm is present and concentrated in all the graphics segments, and depending on the customer’s needs, Fuji can find the best solution for the customer.

At Fujifilm, the wheel never stops churning, and our developers remain in a continuous quest for innovation and creative design that would benefit the customer in all the ways necessary. For example, with the Revoria Press PC 1120, we set foot on another landmark in the printing industry by developing a color production press that can print six colors in a single pass. 

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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