Packaging at China Print 2009 at Beijing

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Much like drupa last year, China Print in its 7th edition emphasised packaging both as a growing segment in offset printing and in its more specific flexo, gravure and ancillary equipment settings. Established 25 years ago, China Print has become the largest printing fair in China, and the second largest in the world when considering the number of exhibitors. Compared to its last edition in 2005, exhibitor numbers rose by 30% to 1,284 while the visitor count – 68,000 – remained flat and even declined as compared to 2001 when it reached 75,000. Including repeat visitors, China Print’s total of 160,000 visitor entries over the five days, however, makes it the busiest printing exhibition after drupa. In terms of unique visitor numbers, it is closing in on IGAS Tokyo and has already overtaken the Ipex Birmingham show and Print Chicago.

We don’t think that China Print 2013 will be larger than drupa 2012, as some people suggested, but there is definitely a trend among our industry’s exhibitors and trade visitors to be more selective in which events to attend and which to avoid. Geography, focus, costs and efficiency are the main criteria taken into consideration. Already last year, among Indian packaging printers we observed a strong preference to visit InterPack rather than drupa, even as some still travelled to Germany twice in order to visit both shows. As a specialised show, InterPack had a far larger number of exhibitors (2,744) than drupa (1,971) in the same exhibition space, with of course a stronger focus on converting and processing machinery.

Compared to drupa and InterPack, China Print has not yet attracted as many visitors from the South-Asian subcontinent, even as there is an increasing interest by Indians in Chinese packaging printing equipment and, particularly, postpress machinery. Indian manufacturers are also starting to make inroads into the Chinese market. Some 300 Indian printing and packaging professionals visited China Print 2009, and Manugraph was one of the few manufacturers actually exhibiting at the show. An “India Day” planned for the show was called off because of insufficient preparation and organisation, but Subhash Chander, President of the All India Federation of Master Printers, addressed a meeting with the printing industry representatives of 13 countries, where he provided a summary update on the Indian printing industry and upcoming trade events in New Delhi. He also revealed plans to set up a Printing, Testing, Training and Research Institute to be run by the Federation in Bangalore, and invited his foreign colleagues to share research data and collaborate on – unspecified – mutual projects.

Presses on show
Next to many offset presses largely shown earlier at drupa 2008, some interesting digital presses were showcased at Print China 2009, as well as some gravure and flexo presses specifically targeted at the packaging industry. HP showcased an Indigo press for packaging printing as well as an inkjet system for marking and coding. The HP Indigo WS6000 digital press is capable of printing on a wide range of substrates thus offering more opportunities in the areas of flexible packaging and foldable cartons.

The HP C6180 Industrial Coder is a new HP-branded industrial thermal inkjet-based coding and marking system launched for the Chinese market and capable of delivering direct-on-box codes and marks on porous packages using aqueous inks. The rugged coder is designed to enhance product safety, authentication and enable compliance with government mandated PIATS (Product Identification and Tracking System) regulations.

One of the most interesting narrow-web machines on show was the Taiyo TLC, a central drum press for 6-colour UV printing and UV flexo varnishing which can be used on a variety of self-adhesive and flexible substrates. The press can be fitted with a corona system and cold foil stamping, rotary die cutting, lamination, and slitter rewinders and sheeters. A recent Taiyo installation took place at Skypack, Faridabad, for the production of pharmaceutical lamitubes. The Indian representative for Japan based Taiyo Kika Ltd is Standard Printers Providers, who were also very active at the stand.

Chinese flexo and gravure machines included Beiren, BST, Dongguan, Donghang, GSW, Guangzhou Hechang, Haotian, Jiangsu Fangbang, Jiangyin Lida, Junhao, Nickel, Ningbo Xinda, Qingzhou Ekofa, Ruian Donghai, Shantou and Sinomech. Packaging processing machinery was shown by Beiren, E-shrink, Foshan, SBW Pack and others.

Postpress equipment
Shanhe Industrial Co Ltd from Shantou in Guangdou province showcased a large range of postpress equipment. Their TFA 110/120 is an OPP laminating machine for water and solvent based applications. It has an automatic glue interruption system in case of web breaks and high heating efficiency for economisation of power consumption. It can be mounted with a variety of options, such as an automatic film deviation correction system, a dust removal unit, automatic delivery and hot-air thermostatic drying system. Other laminators and diecutters were shown by companies Beiren, BRDC, DGM, Shanhe, Huayue, Tuandong, Sanvick, UPM, Yoco and others.

We spoke to Mr Vaidy of Suba Solutions post China Print09. Yoco showed its JY 106-T automatic die-cutting and foil stamping machine and its KS300 single sheet quality inspection machine.The Kohman Window patching machine which are being contract manufactured by Shanghai YOCO were also displayed at their stand. Meiguang had their Automatic flute laminators and Corrugation die cutters on display. Suba Solution’s other principals had their range of bindery equipment demonstrated at the show. Vaidy said, “The show was okay. We focussed on our core products and attended to customers mostly with prior appointments. ChinaPrint09 was not as busy as the previous show 4 years ago. But for the objectives we had it was worth it. We did not get any firm orders at the show. But we got some serious enquiries which we hope to convert in the near future.”

Some of the recent installations for Suba Solutions of their finishing equipment like the Nikko (Yoco) Auto Diecutter with foil stamping attachment have been at Lovely Offset, Sivakasi and the Paktek folder gluer at B.K.Print & Pack in Haridwar.

Chinese folder gluers are also attracting attention from Indian buyers although the pull has not been as great as that of the double digit installs of Chinese die-cutters in India. There were more than 20 folder gluer manufacturers at the show and we saw about ten running live demos. Folder gluers from DGM, PrintStar, SBW Pack, Jinnyenn and Paktek were among those we saw.

Bobst at China Print 2009
Bobst demonstrated their Expertfold folder gluer, which can fold and glue more than 3,000 different box styles, from small pharmaceutical cartons to large cereal boxes, including corrugated and synthetic materials. The Expertfold is meant to simultaneously carry out various in-line processes such as Braille embossing, window patching, leaflet insertion, creasing, and embossing. The machine was shown running live at the show and was churning out auto-lock tea cartons. Bobst also showed a Novacut 106 E die-cutter of which one was recently installed at Kumar Printers in Gurgaon. The Novacut 106 E uses an automatic register system, a double cam gripper bar advance, integrated Cube3 electronics, and an optional Hotplast system for die-cutting plastics.