Labels are getting more complex and innovation is a major driver. You agree?
Five years ago, if one had to buy a narrow-web flexo press, one looked at number of colours and a couple of finishing additions, like inline foiling, turner bar or relam-delam unit. Today, the equation had immensely evolved.
Now they are looking for the same along with some additional, value-added services like screen print unit, etc.
More and more flexo vendors are offering hybrid presses. Has it become mandatory to have a hybrid press?
Whatever you can print on hybrid, the same you can do on all flexo presses, but it should be equipped with necessary equipments.
All efforts by flexo manufacturers are put in making short-runs economical. Has the Indian label market matured enough to really worry about short-runs?
No need to worry about short-run. The maximum short-run jobs are still very less in the Indian market. Now, letterpresses and offset are alternatives for short-run. Only select big firms are going with digital for short-runs, especially short-runs involving variable data printing.
In last three years, flexo presses have upped one level of makeready automation and faster changeovers. Is this to fight the competition from digital?
Etirama is coming up with a new ‘easy concept’ fully automated press with all necessary facilities. The kit will compete with all the presses manufactured in Europe and America. Etirama’s promoters are of German origin. To be available in the market in the first quarter of 2017, the press will be competitive not just in terms of additional features, but also in terms of prices for Asian customers from M-Tech.
There are flexo press which can be set up in less than 10 minutes and offers pre-registration on the print stations together with automatic registration during a print run and a self-cleaning plate system. Do you have something similar in your bag of products?
Yes. We have two presses. The first one is Superprint Evaluation, available with full servo with all print station with chillers drums. It is available in low budget price. Another is easy concept with full automations.
Does increased automation mean high efficiency? And if yes, have the ancillaries and consumables like plates, dies, aniloxes, etc been developed to support this enhanced automation or that will be a hindrance.
Of course, the automation always offers efficiency and reduces waste, thus reducing dependency of skilled manpower.
Another trend is wider versions of narrow-web flexo press, aimed mainly at opportunities in short-run flexible packaging and folding carton. Are we redefining the boundaries of a label printer?
We are not targeting the segment of the industry right now, but the future is very bright.
Among the 10-12 digital label printing machines installed in India, barring three or four players, others are still struggling to be viable.
Today, tonner technology is winning in the short-run digital segment. However, the real winner will be UV inkjet technology. It can produce a product line similar to flexo labels. But it will take a little time for India to recognise this. Of course, UV Inkjet may have to compete with letterpress and offset.
On pre-press front, the dots continue to get finer and flexo print sharper. There was Esko’s Full HD and in last couple of years Kodak’s Flexcel NX has gained popularity in India. What’s next?
Esko and Kodak always had strong R&D for packaging. We cannot ignore or forget their supports for the packaging industry. At present, there are no alternatives to these two companies.