Making a case for pre-owned digital presses

Pre-owned digital presses help newcomers enter the industry and consolidate their position before scaling up, Rahul Kumar speaks to three Delhi-based printers to find out how

15 Dec 2017 | By Rahul Kumar

You understand the allure of a branded pre-owned offset machine. There is a legacy attached. Everyone knows how German machines have superior metallurgy and engineering. The name Heidelberg is enough to make an investment decision. The same is not the case with digital presses. The technology is still new to a sizeable number of Indian printers. Most importantly, digital machines come with a limited lifespan. And with the technology changing like the seasons, even a two-year-old machine has the potential of going obsolete. 
If so, why would one want to invest in a machine which may stop working soon, even if the investment cost is low?
Stating with pre-owned
Gagan Narula of Ramesh Nagar-based Dhairya Binding & Printing (DBB) has an answer. “People who want to start on their own and do not have funds or have limited funds cannot afford a new digital printing press. On the other hand, the initial investment in pre-owned digital printing press is much less — around 30% of a new press. Thus, it helps people like us establish our own entity.”
Narula worked as a press operator in a digital printing press for seven years before starting on his own a year ago. 
It, however, did not begin with a secondhand press. “I had enough experience on printing press and I had reached saturation. So when I decided to venture on my own, I stated a binding house,” Narula says. 
The work started well. As more and more customers started visiting Narula, some of whom knew his background in digital printing, they suggested that he start offering digital printing services as well. 
So, six months back, he added two pre-owned digital printing presses. "Now, I have a full-fledge printing facility. We specialise in printing wedding cards, and also do all kind of other jobs,” he says.
DBB prints around 60,000 A3 colour prints per month utilising both the digital printing presses. “My experience of seven years as a press operator has helped me a lot. I have done some internal changes in the printing press so that I can deliver equal quality as compared to a higher version of the printing press and the new one,” he said. 
Of course, print quality and speed of a pre-owned press is not the same. “But look at the price difference,” Narula counters. “Plus, if you have good knowledge of digital presses or your operator is technically sound, then you can produce the similar printing quality in pre-owned as well.” 
Pre-owned as a value-addition
Pankaj Malhotra of Kailash Nagar-based Anita Studio got into the photography business at the studio owned by his father. “I was in college and jumped into photography because my father was running the studio and was a photographer. So it looked attractive to me. I have learnt everything about the photography and printing through hands on experience at our photography and printing shop. 
Pankaj Malhotra of Anita Studio
Even today, we do photo shoots, designing, printing and produce final products,” says Malhotra. 
When traditional films started to go out of fashion and digital photography took over, Anita Studio too shifted to digital. However, the major shift came when customers started asking for photo albums instead of loose prints.
“Photographs need to be printed, especially wedding photographs. We are in the photography business from ages. Now, we can provide the entire photo album to our customers,” Malhotra says.
This thanks to a pre-owned digital press. “The pre-owned printing press has enabled us to provide complete solution. The in-house printing set-up also helps us reduce rejections and complains, as the entire process is in our discretion. It also improves your delivery as you know about the commitments, with your customers,” he says.
Today, the company prints photos on multiple substrates and items like coffee mugs, pillows, posters, clothes and others, and produces complete photo albums. 
The locality, near to Gandhi Nagar in Delhi, one of the biggest textile markets in India, also helps. “We shoot and print for the textile industry as well. Our location plays a key role in that. We provide prompt print so that textile merchants pack their clothes fast and sell it to customers,” Malhotra concludes. 
Doing well with pre-owned
Laxmi Nagar-based SR Infotech runs from two rented shops, one is used for printing and another for finishing. Subesh Kumar, who owns the business, says the company has printed more than 50,000 sheets of 12x18-inches on his refurbished Konica Minolta production engine in last four months. 
Subesh Kumar of SR Infotech
Kumar has four more printing machines, three mono and one colour, plus a full-fledged post-press facility.
Laxmi Nagar is known for its coaching classes for professional courses and government jobs, besides it being a crowded residential area. As you visit the area you will notice advertisements for different coaching classes in each building.

Kumar has reaped the benefits of this burgeoning business. 
“We do get work from the coaching institutions. Presently, we are getting orders for self-publishing books, especially from the teaching staff of coaching institutions,” he said.
SR Infotech also works as a print production partner for the web-to-print company Printster.
Kumar argues that if you are using your digital press to print books, then a pre-owned makes a perfect fit. “The cost of book production is going down. With a pre-owned press, you can meet the cost structure and even offer competitive prices,” he says. “Not just the initial investment of a digital pre-owned is less, even the running cost of the machine is less. Thus, it helps you in controlling cost.”
Kumar offers another interesting reason for a pre-owned. “You can play around with the machine without a worry and restriction. It helps you learn and grow,” he says.

pre-owned digital machinery supplier: Printkraft

(l) Sujit Mishra of Printkraft

Sujit Mishra, director, Printkraft, says that as a pre-owned digital printing press supplier, it provides complete solutions to a printing company, including digital printing presses, software, consumables and after-sales services.

“We have installed around 100 pre-owned digital presses. Our customer base ranges from newly established players to established and award winning companies,” he says. Mishra says the company’s services are an attempt to help those who do not have enough funds and infrastructure to install new presses and want to enter in to digital printing space. “Basically, it is a help to bring out the entrepreneurs skills from grassroots. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Later, these printing companies will be going for new digital presses,” he adds.

However, all is not well. Recently, the government has put a ban on import of pre-owned digital presses from overseas market. As a result, Mishra says prices of pre-owned digital presses have gone up. “It’s not a good sign,” he says.