the Indian commercial and packaging printers mainly imported used machines. The brand new 4-colour offset presses could easily be counted on your fingers. With specialty and packaging printers leading the way
Just a decade ago, the Indian commercial and packaging printers mainly imported used machines. The brand new 4-colour offset presses could easily be counted on your fingers. With specialty and packaging printers leading the way, the benchmark for a super machine has now shifted to fully UV-ready 6-colour plus coater presses. On the basis of IppStar’s ongoing industry data collection and research, Naresh Khanna reports on the recent growth and prospects of these high value machines.
As recently as seven or eight years ago, both commercial and packaging printers imported from five to ten brand new offset multicolour presses in a given year. The number of new units including coaters counted as full units were anywhere from 30 to 60 in a given year. In the last five years, these numbers have grown dramatically with as many new presses being installed annually as there used to be units. In fact the number of presses has surpassed the number of units imported in the past and as many as 400 units were installed in the previous financial year.
In this market, a commercial printer tends to make her first new offset press purchase a 4-colour machine. The next new press is very often a 5-colour; and, it could even be a 5-colour plus coater. This is a distinguishing feature of the Indian market in comparison to other large Asian markets.
However common to all Asian markets is the strength of the packaging segment, which tends to be largest component of the industry across the continent. Although in India (and in South Asia as well as South-East Asia) flexible packaging and gravure tend to dominate this segment, board packaging has also been growing at a very healthy rate. The elite carton and label printers buy the big ships — their first new press is often a 6-colour plus coater.
The Rise of Ultra Violet Curing
While the benchmark for the rising packaging printer was the fully automated 6-colour plus coater press, this was not enough for printing on foil and plastics and for special effects. It was primarily the luxury-packaging printers who raised the bar by buying fully UV-ready 6-colour plus coater presses. Even among this elite galaxy there are the supernovas — those who have gone to even greater lengths with double coaters and extensions between the print units and more powerful UV curing lamp cartridges.
Packaging printers such as Utility Packaging and Parksons in Western India pioneered luxury-packaging production using full UV presses. Although Utility did this for a long time with a late model used UV press, it aimed at exports right from the start. It is the only Indian company that has had its own stand at LuxPack in Monaco for the last three years. Recently Utility has also imported a brand new dreamliner press, a Heidelberg CD74 6-colour plus coater full UV press for their new Ahmedabad plant.
Moreover, as we wrote in our last issue, Utility like several of the other leading packaging printers such as Parksons and Kumar Printer have become part of global packaging alliances. Utility has gone one step further and also developed a strategic alliance with India’s best known printer, Pragati Offset of Hyderabad. Not all packaging printers believe that the luxury packaging market is for them, but Utility has achieved a very high ratio of packaging exports and the company has some very interesting plans for growth in the near future.
The trend of buying new dreamliner presses started in the 2002–03 financial year with the purchase of a manroland 706 plus coater full UV press by VMC printers in Chennai. VMC imported it for printing on plastic substrates for the manufacture of credit cards. It accelerated quickly in 2004–05 with the import of three UV enabled presses by major packaging printers. International Print-O-Pac in Noida imported a full UV Roland 706 6-colour plus coater. Almost simultaneously a fully UV 6-colour coater press was installed at Borkar Packaging in Baddi 5 hours north of Delhi. This was closely followed by the installation of Parksons Packagings’ fully UV KBA Rapida 105 6-colour plus coater press at the company’s Daman plant. This press was inaugurated with great fanfare and the distribution of a sample book that demonstrated its capabilities of printing on translucent and transparent plastics primarily for luxury packaging. In the same year, Temple Packaging of Mumbai installed their first new 6-colour plus coater full UV press — a Heidelberg CD74.
In 2005–06, Mitsubishi joined the party of the three German manufacturers in this segment with its first full UV 6-colour plus coater press installed at TCPL’s new plant in Haridwar. In the following year, four such presses came in.