Only Rs 7 lakhs to boost print efficiency - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

Big kit investments are the mainstay of any print production site. But there are equipments that are small, but when pressed into production can make print fulfillment a lot easier.

04 Apr 2015 | By Noel D'Cunha

Small is beautiful

Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of Singapore, picked air-conditioner over printing press, internal combustion engine and the internet as the most influential invention of the millennium. Lee died on 23 March 2015. He was one of the few leaders so embodied and dominated their countries. He propelling Singapore “From Third World to First”. Lee explained that before air-conditioner, people living in the tropics were at a disadvantage because the heat and humidity damaged the quality of their work.

Bobst’s CEO, Jean Pascal Bobst once said, those initial investments in small and economical packaging finishing equipment by print companies are good signs for his company. “These are the stepping stones towards investments in more expensive machines like ours,” he had said.

Even if your high-cost print equipment budget has received a bail-out, you could still need that small instrument or an add-on which will complement your highest ones per rupee spent. It could be an inspection system, a cutting blade tool, a cutting table, colour measurement devices, offline coaters, or desktop digital finishing kit among others that can make a difference to their workflow.

My list of eleven cool low-cost products which compete with the high-cost equipment.

The Raspberry Pi

With the double-digit growth in print and packaging in India, the energy requirements continue to rise. The best thing for print owners to do is focus on achieving more output with minimum available input. One option is: investing in a simple microcontroller like Raspberry Pi; a printing plant can deploy less power and generate less heat. Be it: a desktop computer to advanced technologies, one can save up to 30% of business-as-usual energy consumption.

GMG colour match proofer with Epson inkjet printer

Perhaps the best investment for all printers; especially in this day and age when colour accuracy is a key factor. The GMG technology makes it easier to match the final print on press to a proof copy and producing a quality sheetfed press run, whether traditional litho or digital.

If there is a bit of money in the pocket, do look at the GMG print optimiser server which can control the  dot gain on press through the dot gain curve for your CTP system.

Post-press kit from Joy Dzign

A pre-gluing system from Joy DZign can be a nice addition in the post-press department that help in the creation of hardcover books. Faridabad-based Joy also has products that can create book blocks for diaries, dictionaries, directories, plus stationery and exercise notebooks.

Arrow Label Press 002

This compact desktop-sized digital roll label printer uses a single-pass LED colour laser engine. The press runs at 9.3 meter a minute, and can print labels of sizes of up to 20.5 to 120 cms on various media such as art paper, certified PET, gold and silver paper, and Teslin.

Carton packagers catering to pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, FMCGs, healthcare, cosmetic, home appliances or labellers who wish to print short-run jobs, the Arrow Label Press 002 is an ideal foil. The unique and variable data that is entered into labels such as QR codes, barcodes and number can be printed out immediately.

Coating machine by Keerti Industries

A long-time manufacturer of varnishing machine for playing cards, Mumbai-based Keerti Industries has developed a manual fed roller-coater, which is pretty fast to churn out 20,000 sheets in an eight-hour shift. It has its limitations, but it forms a right recipe for a small scale commercial operation, which needs to outsource coating.

The company's secondhand varnishing machine for playing cards is deloyed by Superlekha Press for coating of its commercial jobs. It can handle paper from 40gsm to 400gsm. However, the speed is only 1000 sheets per hour. Rupesh Sawant says, it's perfect for his set-up which otherwise would need outsourcing the job.

Laser cutting and engraving

Lasers are an exciting piece of technology to have in the finishing arsenal. Today, a wide range of laser-cutting equipment is available at low cost and can be deployed for diverse applications. A flexible laser-cutter for short-run dieless personalised applications can help with innovative designs. At PrintPack 2015, Advanced Graphic Systems launched a laser-cutting and engraving machine manufactured by China-based Gbos targeting digital quick printers. It is a low investment digital finishing kit for commercial printers to add value to their products. Its application can also be extended to packaging printers to incorporate intricate designs by laser-cutting. 

X-Rite's EasyTrax

A very handy tool when it comes to colour measurement. You have bought a seven-colour press and you believe going by numbers makes it easy to check if your printed job is within the quality parameters. EasyTrax is the kit you can rely on. Leaving any job to the operator subjectivity checking puts a lot of pressure on the operator. EasyTrax measures the sheet quickly and shows a summary of all the  units, in an easy to decipher graphic, so that adjustments can be quickly made. Moreover, time saved over manually measuring the number is huge. EasyTrax can be bought for just about Rs 7-lakh, and if you are a good negotiator, may be under that price.

3D printing

This kit is not really about efficiency, but an alternate revenue stream. 3D printing is the new wave of disruptive technology which is impending to burst into the Indian market. There is still scepticism worldwide about its far-reaching potential, but definitely the prospect of providing a ‘printed’ copy of an industrial designer’s prototype is definitely exciting and can be the possible evolution for our industry. The openness of this market is surely another critical factor for the growing excitement, with the presence of umpteen startups at (crowd sourcing portal) who have essentially brought down the cost of a basic printer to less than USD 1000.

3D printing can open space for a new kind of ‘Print on demand’ with printing of low-cost consumer and novelty products. This would be an excellent addition to the multi-specialty digital print shop to initiate a new revenue stream. One such 3D printing kit is offered by Navi Mumbai-based DivideByZero Technologies, which can be used for making prototypes and dummies.

Filtration systems

Filtration on a press is a kit that can help save waste sheets. How many print companies strain paper fibre and calcium bits out of the dampening solutions? If you do, you are actually extending its lifetime six-fold. If you haven’t been checking these, it can cause hickies, and a build up of calcium on the rollers, can impact inking and colour consistency, all of which can lead to waste sheets. Perhaps, frequent wash-ups is a solution, but it comes at the expense of press time, what filtrations does is, it reduces the need for wash-up and dumping of chemistry, also reduces the bill for buying and disposal of the chemistry, which is classed as a hazardous waste. There are press manufacturers like Heidelberg and other onpress technology providers like Baldwin and Technotrans, who provide filtrations that can be installed in less than an hour’s downtime and will cost you upwards of Rs 5-lakh.

Card Cutters from Hi Tech Systems

A card cutter is from the stable of Mumbai-based Hi Tech Systems who have the busiest stalls at print trade shows. The card cutter (an eco version; plus a business version) can benefit any printer with a Canon, HP, Kodak Nexpress, Konica Minolta, Ricoh and Xerox. The machine with five pre-fixed card sizes (88 x 55 or 88 x 54 and 1 variable program) permits the machine to cut up to 2 A3 sheets per minute (50 cards per minute). Also, it enables the correction of the registration error of digital prints. An ideal low cost tool for printers.

Apple's Mac Pro

The Mac was 30 year old in 2014. And in the past three decades, the tech-biggie has been re-inventing the workstation. One system I vouch for is the Mac Pro. This Mac isn’t about aesthetics; instead it strives to rethink the desktop for the modern print industry: it’s tiny, but hugely powerful, runs cool, and relies on external — not internal — expansion. Surprisingly, it’s also good value — since the powerful Mac Pro configurations compare very favourably to DIY Windows-based solutions.

We are celebrating our Seventh Anniversary with the May 2015 issue. If you (a print firm owner only; and strictly NO suppliers and dealers) have a kit that is under Rs 7-lakh; which has amazed you with its ability to boost your business, we would be keen to feature that in the issue.

Do write to me about a cool under Rs 7 lakh product in your organisation

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