Pamex footfalls soar and signs indicate a solid 2024

Good buzz at Pamex. A senior industry leader called it a print mela. One thing I heard is, capacity utilisation of the print converters is much higher than in the past two years. This is especially true for commercial printers (and book print firms) as compared with packaging converters. Sanjay Patel of Param Packaging shared with me during a business conference at the Marriott Fairfield on 5 February in Mumbai. He said, “The upcoming election season, with the Lok Sabha Elections, the first half of 2024 shall see a rise in demand for printed products—from flyers, posters, outdoor advertising,

08 Feb 2024 | By Ramu Ramanathan

And so, there is a feel-good factor at the show. Most companies we spoke to said, “there has been a pent-up demand after Covid - and 2023 has been a solid year”. Most manufacturers are seeing a healthy double-digit growth and even though everyone is being "watchful" in 2024, it looks to be a good year for ink-on-paper in India.

The top seven digital print firms' grip on the market continues, as print and packaging firms continue to invest. New deals have been inked at the stalls of Canon, Fujifilm, Konica Minolta, Monotech, Redington-HP, Ricoh, TechNova, Vinsak, the gap between the traditional big cities is reduced as the focus shifts to Tier 2 and Tier 3 centres. And although electrophotography has been around for long, the live demos at the show suggest the devil is in the details. Things to look out for are: tweaks in fusing technology. Also, look out for sizes and if one can print more A4 pages per sheet; plus the variety of paper weights from 64 to 450-gsm and print on a range of substrates, including synthetic papers, polycarbonate, silver met-PET and much more, What caught my eye was how a typical production line can be consolidated with a feeder, stacker, and control panel on one side for the press operator.

India is on the cusp of next-generation inkjet kits for labels and book production. The one that grabbed my attention is the Orient inkjet press. It's impressive, how it can do finishing, up to sheeting, perforation, and section gathering. Do get a demo from the TPH team and see if you can do folding with perforations which can be trimmed for perfect binding. Meanwhile, Ajay Aggarwal of Insight shared with me, “A digital print entrepreneur in Pune has installed one of our inkjet presses recently. This firm converts 5,000 books per day, in a 2,000-sq ft space. At the end of the day, all the books are dispatched.” Aggarwal said this is “book magic”. With the inkjet device Atexco web press, Aggarwal said that Insight is targeting textbooks and the education market. Devices have been installed in Delhi, Pune, Nagpur with a total of seven confirmed bookings before Drupa.

Bindwel's SigLoch for the digital print firm market is attracting a lot of eyeballs. Decades ago, the starting point in the Bindwel journey was single-clamp binders. The group was a first-time adopter of HMA binding with their entry-level post-press kit. Now, Bindwel has forayed into the digital post-press market with a raft of offerings under the SigLoch brand. Bindwel, like many Indian manufacturers at Pamex are prepping for Drupa. With 76 exhibitors from India and approximately 4,700 sqm net, India is one of the Top 10 nations at Drupa. All eyes are on Make in India. 

The Pratham Technologies stall was also a curtain-raiser for Drupa. The Pune-based pharma specialist has incorporated automation-oriented features for their marquee products. All eyes are on Drupa where the group will be showcasing an outsert setup and launching two new products – the automatic commercial folder and the auto tray packer. The demo that caught my eye was: the double-head taping system for pharmaceutical printers. Smart and practical.

In terms of Product Watch, I was quite impressed with the Felix Gluer which is a XY glue-plotter table rapid gluing for corrugated packaging, POP displays and foams. Very useful for putting together display units. Also impressive is Monotech's PixelGlow - a digital UV and foiling (hot and cold) system. The special 3D effects are pretty good, and it is capable of working with materials ranging from 135gsm to 700gsm with a maximum thickness of 300 microns. But what grabbed my attention was the DC- X II at the "very busy" TechNova stall. It's a tiny tabletop kit that gets lost among all the big daddies at the show. If you find the "small is beautiful DC- X II kit" you will realise it is capable of applications like foiling, lamination, dry coating, and image coating. Perfect for the 225 sq/ft digital print shop. No wonder 25 of the machines have been sold in India.

Also, many track-and-trace technologies are available. And so, brand accountability is no longer an elusive endeavour, In fact in this day and age of QR and algorithmic decision-making, allocating blame is a fraught process. Some of the solutions at the Pamex show that isn't this doesn’t have to be a bad thing - and is an opportunity for the industry. The point is, that most regulations like traceability etc. are print-related activities. And therefore, it is "very easy for the packaging industry players to adopt". Almost every brand (big and small) is seeking tamper-proof packaging or anti-counterfeit packaging. Huge opportunity for the industry to be seen as the guardian of brand attacks.

My one big grouse is about exiting from the Bombay Convention & Exhibition Centre (BEC). Two hours from Goregaon East to Vile Parle West on day one and day two of the show. That's 7 pm to 9 pm - at the end of a long day. And so, an out-of-the-box suggestion for the organisers: Start the Pamex 2026 show at 8 am and wrap up at 4 pm. Just a thought!


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