Digital flexo imagers come inside the plant

Digital flexo, events, Amar Chached

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there are now fourteen digital flexo imagers in South Asia. There is one in Colombo
With our latest counting in January 2008, there are now fourteen digital flexo imagers in South Asia. There is one in Colombo, Sri Lanka and three in Pakistan, mostly in Karachi. These are all Esko CDI machines. In India there are ten installations of which six are Esko CDIs and four are Kodak Thermoflex digital imagers. We expect that before March 2009 another two or three digital flexo imagers will be bought in India even if they are not installed by that date.

Several years ago we predicted that eventually every major printing centre in India would have two flexo imagers and calculating on the basis of ten centres we thought twenty was a nice round number. Similarly one can imagine that Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan will absorb another ten to fifteen digital flexo imagers as the label industry grows and even the wide web flexo starts to encroach on the hitherto, mostly gravure market.

We notice in the last couple of years that now these machines are not only going to trade shops but are increasingly bought by larger label printers for in-plant use. The in-plant customers generally have several narrow web label presses and include Wintek in Bangalore, EIH Press in Manesar with only one Gallus, and now WebTech in Mumbai. We had an opportunity to interview Amar Chached of WebTech at the Creed-Kodak stand and at the India Label Show in December 2008 soon after he signed for the Kodak Thermoflex Narrow being displayed at the show.

IPP: How many narrow web flexo presses does WebTech have now?
Amar Chached:
We have fourteen label presses of which we added four in the last year — two each from Mark Andy and Gidue.

IPP: What kind of labels, who are your customers?Amar Chached: We used to do a lot of work for the lubrication oil industry but now our work is mainly in pharmaceutical industry. About 75% of our labels now go to the pharma segment. Exports are also an important dimension of our label production. About 50% of our labels are exported.

IPP: Do you do any variable data printing on your labels?
Amar Chached:
The pharmaceutical segment requires a great deal of variable data incorporated in their labels. In fact our pharmaceutical customers themselves do all of the variable data printing on the labels.

IPP: What type of software and workflow have you opted for?
Amar Chached:
We have gone for Kodak’s Prinergy Powerpack including Maxtone, Hyperflex, and Digicap. For step and repeat we plan to use Pandora. All this will be new for us since we are currently using only Corel and Adobe Photoshop.

IPP: Why did you opt for an in-house flexo imager? Do you plan to do any work for other printers also?

Amar Chached: Basically we have taken this step to save time. We want to explore the possibilities of the technology. We will be trying and experimenting with the technology. However we have no interest in getting into the flexo plate business.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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