Gearing up and getting ready...

Amit Ahuja, managing director of Multitec is ready to be guided by the printers. He tells Rahul Kumar, let them tell us and we will make sure our equipment stands up to the challenge.

01 Oct 2015 | By Rahul Kumar

PrintWeek India (PWI): Multitec is on a roll?
Amit Ahuja (AA): Yes, since Labelexpo 2013, Multitec has grown 25% year on year. This year the growth surge is happening and we should increase our sales by at least 50%
PWI: How does label printing sector looked like in 2015? What are you hearing from your customers, who have invested in your equipment in the last two years? 
AA: Printers are looking at machines with more number of colours, accessories, etc. In the last five orders, we have three machines which are ten colours or more with a host of accessories. Printers are also looking at less operator dependence and have started looking into in-press inspection 
PWI: What is your star product at the Labelexpo Europe 2015? Can you explain what’s new and how will it benefit the customers? 
AA: We have displayed the Ecoflex VSi - our most popular model in the export market. "Why fix it if it's not broken" mantra has been followed and the press gets some upgrades from the previous show like zero-break matrix stripping, easy change of ink pans, and few other changes. The benefits are lesser wastage and higher achievable speeds for complex die cut shapes, easier job change for the operator, etc.
PWI: In terms of functionality, has the role of labels enhanced or it still is a piece of decoration? How does your press help enhance the functionality of labels? 
AA: A label is much more than a piece of decoration - it has security, QR barcodes, statutory information, etc. But of course, it must look nice. Also, the right material has to be used for a particular application. The largest part of the label is its looks and Multitec's presses help enhance the beauty of labels by providing in-line screen units, cold foil and also gravure printing add-ons. Another concept of peal and reseal labels is catching up and is becoming a statutory requirement in Europe for pharma and chemical related products. These kinds of labels can also be done with ease on Multitec's special add-ons to the VSi press.
PWI: New guidelines for product security and ingredients disclosures are being introduced on a regular basis. Do you see labels donning a bigger role here? 
AA: Yes in Europe, peal and reseal has become a legal requirement of certain kind of labels. Multi-layer labels also aim at this. Tamper proof labels and shrink sleeves which have tamper-evident features are also in vogue. Labels have a big role in ingredients disclosure and product security. 
PWI: There are new substrates, linerless to name one, plus processes. Which are the ones that are especially challenging when printing on your presses and what should the labellers do to address these challenges? 
AA: Incidentally, a press that is going to a Russian customer soon after the show, is for linerless labels. They are very big in food packaging in Moscow and 95% of their business is in linerless. It can be printed with ease on a Multitec press but it is a complicated label from start to finish. Labelers have to invest in this technology for linerless adoption and it is expensive but it pays for itself in a very short period of time.
PWI: Do we see smart labels becoming mainstream (temperature sensitive/colour changing)? These would require special inputs in terms of inks and substrates. The question is: are your presses capable of meeting these requirements? 
AA: Smart labels have a wider scope than just special inks and substrates. The label can be made complex with the screen, embossing, cold transfer of hologram and scratch off the process and all these kind of special jobs including temperature sensitive can be done by utilising our presses. The press has built in chill rolls and a very stable ink transfer system allowing the minimum change in temperature from unit to unit. But this is just one feature - much more goes into making a label smart and I feel that we are up to the challenge.
PWI: Can one print above 133lpi without the converter changing the anilox or the ink system? 
AA: Only if the printing company has in-house plate making. It can be done but is a very difficult process when matching shades. You have to constantly play around with the curve profile and also take into account the ink freshness (and also variation between batches which is a practical problem). So if the inks and the aniloxes are constant, the plates must be changed to get the right Pantone shades. It works well in theory and when a little shade variation does not matter but in reality, it is a different story. 
PWI: At a press, 1,200lpi is used for a job with screen of 40%, and 500lpi Anilox is used for a patch job. An 80lpi Anilox is used for UV varnishes. However, this varies from press to press. Since Anilox is considered as the heart of the flexographic printing process, are there specific standards for selection of Anilox that can run on your presses?
AA: I have seen that most good companies have a measurement of everything they do - it is in the numbers. So unless you document the densities being printed and the factors that effect that, everything else becomes an art. To make a science of it, things must be properly measured and then you can achieve some tricks which are consistent and repeatable. 
PWI: One of the ways of becoming profitable is by reducing cost. Do you believe it is? Does your new flexo press help the labellers achieve that? Can you give an example? 
AA: Reducing cost is important. But finally you have to understand that if this remains the only objective, sooner or later you will be in trouble. You have to have a USP and innovate so that the customer is willing to pay the premium for it, otherwise it will just remain about lower and lower margins. Our VSi and VSi servo presses have innovative features which help label printers achieve lower wastage and high productivity. With the addition on accessories, the press becomes a Swiss army knife for printers.
PWI: New technologies in pre-press and finishing, substrate and inks, are enhancing the functionality of labels. In future, what improvements can we expect from flexo presses? 
AA: Let's see what the show offers! It is a different set of circumstances for the Indian printer versus the European printer, so all that we see here today, may or may not make commercial sense in India. Having said that, I also believe that one cannot stop an idea whose time has come. 
PWI: What's the "next big thing" that you see is coming in the label segment? 
AA: Let the printers guide us there - we will make sure our equipment stands up to the challenge.