Monday, 20 February, 2012

Why Indian offset printers are moving to packaging

Diversification from one business to other is something all businesses do once or twice in their lifetime. Printing is an ancient industry and its most popular and recent form lithography, has grown to fully automatic, sensor controlled, giant printing presses.

In the course of this growth, it has seen many technologies -- some that it embraced and others it threw out. In this time the industry evolved to a certain level of standardisation to replace the less technical or craft-like interventions formerly needed to control its process, and this has perhaps made the industry stable to a large extent. As a rule we know that where there is a movement, there is a growth. Printing has seen great movement and change in the past 500 years but in the developed economies it is now threatened by sudden stagnation.

I meet many printers who have moved or are in the process of moving their focus from printing to packaging. Reasons? One is technological stagnancy apart from digital inkjet and new media. In offset there is no major research and development going on and in the past ten years no major revolutionary changes have been incorporated in the process – the improvements in automation are thus far incremental. This and excess capacity in the developed economies, has led to the death of many printing press manufacturers and printers as well. Another reason for the diversification to packaging at least in India, is that packaging is growing at a faster pace than commercial printing and the machinery needed is similar with a few mechanical changes in the post press area from binding to converting. Thus you can start a packaging unit simultaneously while running a commercial printing plant!!

Rashmi Bhate

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