Konica Minolta upgrades its mid-segment presses

KM’s C7100 and C7090 raise the level of mid-segment digital printing

Konica Minolta
The USPs of Konica Minolta Accurio C7100 and C7090. Photo Konica Minolta

At its recent media launch of the Konica Minolta Accurio C7100 and C7090, the global company shared a considerable amount of market data on digital print engines in India. Salient points included the increase in KM’s share in monochrome printing, where it is now as dominant as it is in the light-color and mid-color segments.

The rise in digitally produced monochrome pages was visible even before the pandemic, with the import of new digital monochrome engines accelerating. This was partly attributed to the better absorption of monochrome digital presses by book printers.

Additionally, Konica-Minolta India’s overall market share improved in both the pandemic-dominated calendar years of 2020 and 2021 – even as the digital press market took a hit of 41% and 26%, respectively in each of those years, in comparison to digital press sales in 2019.

The KM Accurio C7100 and C7090 replace the C6100 and the C6085 in the market and are not merely an incremental improvement over the machines they replace – to my mind the newly launched presses represent a qualitative leap in technology, robustness, speed, and capacity in the mid-production segment that comprises 25 to 28% of digital production in India. (The light production segment remains the biggest part of the market at over 50%.)

The capability of handling longer sheets up to 900 mm which, with the right type of finishing could make these machines more productive without significantly increasing their width or price, is a benefit to be explored. The implication is that a printer could produce 8 A4 pages in a single pass – such as an 8-page brochure or book signature. However, at launch, KM India is not discounting the click charge for longer auto-duplex output in one go.

The higher resolution of 3600 x 2400 of the new digital presses is expected to take advantage of the finer Simitri V toner – which theoretically has better reflected light dispersion than larger toner particles. The improved mechanics of the fuser and the wider double Corona wires on the ink cartridges speak to better print quality – although we still have to see it to believe it.

There are other technical improvements such as the engine being more compact with a smaller footprint and also increased drum life to 600K. Higher resolution and speed would demand a faster RIP and CPU with more memory, and the KM 7100 and 7090 digital presses have these. KM India has also made interesting improvement using the cloud in its user empowered maintenance and servicing.

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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