The Screen Print Man

On 25 September 2014, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, had launched the ‘Make in India’ initiative with an aim to give the Indian economy a global recognition.

12 Dec 2014 | By Shripad Bhat

As detailed out in the Make in India portal, the Government has identified 25 key sectors in which our country has the potential of becoming a world leader. This includes the textile and garments sector.

A large number of offset/packaging, screen and digital printers cater to textile/garment industry. Screen and digital printing are used for textile printing and garment decoration. 

Given the ‘Make in India’ clarion call, let’s introspect what’s up for grab for printers as a whole.

At the recently concluded Eastern Print Pack expo in Kolakta, CEI Print Pack had showcased some of their print products (with some amount of value addition done with screen printing) at their stall.This included danglers, calendars for leading brands, and product catalogue for saree exporters.

When I met Kishore Sanghavi in Mumbai, he showed me a large-size product catalogue with post-press effects for exporters/manufacturers of saree and dress materials in Surat and Mumbai. He said, "The product catalogue should speak for itself."

During my visit to the Surat wholesale saree market, I observed that each and every saree was packed in a plastic cover with offset printed almost A4 size product label on one inside the packet. If one visits any offset printers in Surat, you will find most of them involved in printing jobs for textile companies. 

Every garment piece from it handkerchieves to socks, require packaging. All these are most times printed on an offset machine. Luxury garment packaging are supplied by many offset/packaging printers with UV effect and such. A few to name are, Gautam Paper Udhyog and Creative Graphics in Surat (Saree boxes), Arihant, CEI Print Pack, Kohinoor Printers - Kolkata (Shirt and inner wear boxes), Amritsar-based Jugar Arts, Décor Pac, Gurgaon (Garment boxes), OK Arts in Jetpur, and Bengaluru-based Palm Graphics.

Garment hang tags 
All luxury garments come with special value-added garment tags. These tags used to be / are imported from China as revealed by some of the garment tag manufacturers. For instance, Pooja Graphics, Mumbai, makes luxury garment tags using numerous paper and non paper substrates; Bonika Graphics, Kolkata, and National Printing Press, Mumbai, are all garment tag manufacturers either only screen printed or offset printed with value addition done on screen.

Nagpur-based Vikas Printing Press produces all screen printed garment tags for a top brand whose name is witheld as per non disclosure agreement. These are quite thick tags screen printed on board paper with UV ink to produce the exact corporate colour, using colour management system.

Heat transfer labels (also called as tagless labels)
Heat transfer labels (in single or multi colour) are printed on transfer paper (with reverse letters) and then transferred onto garments/innerwears using a fusing machine where by label (ink film) gets transferred onto neck side of the clothing, and paper is thrown out. Heat transfer is easier to print and stock. Ask A L B, Rony Print, Krishna & Sons (Kolkata); Thanusri Labels, Real Prints, Shiva Sakhti Transfers (in Tirupur), Vikas Labels and Bindra Labels (Delhi), and Raj Knitwear (Ludhiana), cater to this segment.

Heat transfers for chest and logo printing: Many of the above companies and many others printers such as Quenby Transfers, Tarun Print Tech, and Manohar Filament, are also involved in printing heat transfers for chest and logo printing. These are multi-colour design heat transfer printing in lieu of direct to garment printing. The process of transferring the printed image is same as heat transfer.

Interestingly companies like Manohar Filament, Vikas Labels (Delhi) and Pooja Graphics, Mumbai also produce non woven labels besides heat transfers and garment tags and labels.

Direct to Garment printing
There are two segments; textile printing and garment printing. Both were dominated by screen printing process. Now digital technology has made small inroads although it has a long way to go. Textile printing refers to full fabric printing such as sarees, blankets, dress materials etc.

I limit my discussion only to Direct to garment (DTG) printing. As I said DTG printing is mostly done with screen printing. Screen printing involves either long table or single manual table printing, mechanical manual printing machine, automatic screen printing machines.

The digital technology caters to sublimation printing; eg, Mumbai-based Varsha Transprint. There are many screen printers having digital press as well to cater to small runs. Garment printing is taken care of by heat transfers. Some of the DTG printers I know include: Delhi-based Hari Prints, Hindustan Prints, Madhu Creations, Trans Global Print; Vapi-based Om Designs, Bhiwandi-based Glacier Arts; Mumbai-based Tarun Print Tech; Jaipur-based Printwell, Tirupur-based Casual Prints, AB Screens, Jeevan Print, Print Tech (Mohanaa Prints), Sony Tex Print, Ludhiana-based Rohit Fabric, Rishi Printing, Shankheshwar Enterprises, Fashion Arts, Pallavi Printers, and 5XL Screen Print  are only a few to name.

Labels and stickers
Despite offset and label technology one may ask what is the need to print saree and garment labels using screen printing technology. Jetpur-based OK Arts and Chandan Graphics; Surat-based Rachna Graphics and Nidhi Labels, Ludhiana-based Classic Labels, Bengaluru-based MR Labels and Color Eye Graphcs – all produce exotic saree, hosiery, textile and garment labels in huge quantity using screen printing technology. These labels are stuck on export sarees; they say each saree meant for the export market need five to seven different stickers/labels plus have some kind of UV special effects. Classic Labels in Ludhiana supplies screen printed labels to shawls, blanket and sweater making companies.

Leather patches for jeans
Ambernath-based Fashion Accessories India has invested in almost a dozen Grafica screen printing machines to produce leather like looking patches for jeans. The company is also a supplier of all types of fashion accessories for garment industry.

Shopping bags (cloth, jute, non woven and paper, PVC)
A lot of screen printed bags are supplied to the clothing/garment shops and malls. Scores of jute manufacturers/exporters export screen printed jute and juko (jute and cotton mix) bags to the European and Middle East countries while Indians mostly prefer PVC or non-woven bags.

Some of the players in this segment are Kolkata-based S K Enterprise, Rajkot-based Patel Arts and Raj Bag, Ahmedabad-based DS Enterprise (who have both screen and offset press), Mumbai-based S S Screen Printers, Vapi-based Planet, Bhiwandi-based Dhanshree Flexographics, (all non woven shopping bags manufacturers/printers) Kancheepuram based Kamakshi Bags (Cloth bags), Nashik based Mayur Graphics and Gurgaon based Décor Pac (value added paper bags).

Threat to printers

Interestingly, Stretch Fashion, a garment manufacturer in Tirupur, has invested in Grafica’s 20”x30” Camshell type screen printing machine to produce heat transfers (both neck labels and chest printing) and also to print PVC packaging for innerwear meant for export market. This is an alarming bell for printing industry that manufacturers are getting into printing to bypass outsourcing jobs.

Also, Ludhiana based Nahar Spinning Mills has a couple of Grafica’s screen printing machines to produce heat transfers (neck tagless labels) inhouse!

On the Direct to Garment Printing side, there is threat from garment manufacturers who have started investing in automatic screen printing machines to undertake garment printing inhouse. Eg Tirupur-based Dude Garment and Dixcy Textiles have invested in Grafica automatic DTG screen printing machines; they used initially outsource DTG printing!

Interestingly, Tirupur based garment manufacturers DG Garments who have invested in Grafica’s automatic DTG screen printing machine, use the spare capacity to undertake DTG printing on job work basis.

In Ludhiana I met two kidswear manufacturers – Usha Knit Fab and Seema Garments who have also invested in automatic DTG screen printing machine to do printing inhouse. It may be noted that garment manufacturers dump unstitch fabric of t-shirts, kidswear, etc to garment printers who return it after printing and fusing (in case of heat transfers).

The domestic textile and apparel industry in India is estimated to reach USD 100 Billion by 2016-17 from USD 67 Billion in 2013-14
Exports in textiles and apparel from India are expected to increase to USD 65 Billion by 2016-17 from USD 40 Billion in 2013-14
The sector contributes 14% to industrial production, 4% to India’s GDP and constitutes 13% of the country’s export earnings
*Abundant availability of raw materials such as cotton, wool, silk and jute
First in global jute production
7 Million Tonnes of FBP in 2013-14
63% of the world’s market share in textiles and garments
2nd largest textile manufacturer in the world
A strong production base
With over 45 Million people, employed directly, the industry is one of the largest sources of employment generation in the country