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Kant Dabholkar: We are print

06 September 2017

Pune-based Kant Dabholkar, a master printer with more than 55 years in the printing industry, has a diploma in printing from IHK Freiburg / Breisgau, West Germany.

He attended the training programme at the Heidelberg training centre in Heidelberg, Germany in 1963-1965 and then again in 1984. He has published a book MICR cheques and other instruments which was awarded of Cultural Doctorate by the World University, Texas, USA.

Dabholkar has a close association with PVG institute in Pune. He has conducted guest lectures also guided students in the final year projects.

He is presently sharing his print knowledge by assisting top print consultants.

In this Print Zone, Kant Dabholkar shares his experiences in print and beyond.

kant

What is your idea of a perfect print firm in India?
It is a unit that has a combination of both offset and digital printing facility with some post-press and pre-press equipment plus professional management.    

What is the trait you most deplore in our industry?
Poaching of labour and cut throat competition.

What is the trickiest colour that you have had to print?
To print a light green colour on an ivory board. 40,000 sheets were printed with ink matching and mixing done manually for the entire job. Ink consumption was more than 40 kgs.

What is the quality you seek when you hire?
Good knowledge of the processes and capacity to understand the job.

When and which print job or project made you the happiest? 
During my apprenticeship in Germany, a printing job made me the happiest. The job was to print a black and white job in a format of 70x100 inches by letterpress using zinc blocks (16 pages) which the master printer was not able to achieve without any defect. I got to print the same job a few months later and was able to solve the problem using the experience from the family press in India prior going to Germany for my three-year training.

Describe a typical day?
Rise at about 7 am. After the routine morning duties, check email and read some articles on my laptop. I write an article for the Pune print association once a month. Visit some printer once in a while. Assist them if they have any technical problem or in their quest for equipment. During the day often watch some TV and normally bed time around 11 pm.


What is your most ‘wow’ moment (print / non-print)?
Producing a special job (travellers cheques) from conception, designing, proofing and final printing all by letterpress in five colours within a short time of one week.

Which method do you prefer?
Offset and digital and naturally some of the letterpress which I trained for three years from 1962-65.

One print blunder you made? 
Buying a small offset machine (Ryobi) and a Compugraphic Phototypesetter.

What was the greatest strength of your printing firm?
Security printing cheques, demand drafts, security code books, specimen signature books and leather binding. We even printed ballot papers for national elections, thrice.

Which print technology, according to you, is the future?
Hybrid. Offset and digital must survive together, and take the best of each process.

If you could change one thing about your printing plant, what would it be?
Change over to offset a few years earlier and the reduction in dependence on only letterpress. Since in those days a majority of the job was done on letterpress and water-based inks were not printable in offset at that time due to lack of the technology of plate-making.

A technology or a thought process you think is a passé for 21st century press?
Advertising and marketing through print.

What is your favourite Make in India print brand?
The Times of India but without the typos that are creeping into the paper.

What do you most value in your customers?
Clarity of thought of what they want and respect for the printer and his ability and experience.

Your favourite print conference?
BMPA’s Print Summit in Mumbai and Drupa in Dusseldorf.

What has been your greatest investment on your shopfloor?
An Electronic Tracer block making machine. This was the only machine installed in India.
 
One below ten lakh investment which you thought was ‘wow’?
As stated above the Electronic Tracer engraving machine. It was used for making the plates for the cheque background on PVC sheets. Print runs in excess of five lakhs were achieved.

Which international factory or firm you visited which was a game-changer?
The Heidelberger Druckmaschinen factory in Germany.

Who are your print heroes in real life?
Arun Mehta of Vakils.

One reason why India is not the largest print destination in the world?
Poor training, poor infrastructure and delays in formalities.

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