The Indian self-adhesive label industry has risen from basic grassroot levels, most of the initial entrants who pioneered to create these labels were first generation small entrepreneurs. Starting with manual screen-printing process in the 1960s in sheet form, they ventured forward into flat-bed narrow web label printing and converting. By the 1990s label printing further evolved to use flexographic printing process and went on developing continuously to transform into integration of multiple printing technologies on the same  label press with embellishing and converting in-line in a single pass. Most of the earlier entrants, the pioneers who provided impetus for the growth and spread of narrow web self-adhesive label, were either single owner or family-owned small businesses. These initial front runners were partners to industry in transforming a major part of the then prominently used wet glue labels to self-adhesive labels popularly called those days as “stickers”! What were hand applied labels started to be applied from roll form by automatic label applicators on packaging lines, ensuring increased usage and demand of self-adhesive labels. The 1990s saw a lot of growth in label manufacturing and by end of decade, international interest in the Indian label industry started to surface. But at this time the Chinese label market started to register rapid growth attracting the multinational material suppliers and printers turning their attention to the Growing Chinese market. Many industry experts did caution that eventually correction will take place and the growth will slowdown. However still the large population always indicates a robust growth as organized retail grows. Global investments in label grew. As China, India too has a large population and  on the other hand it continued to grow in a stable and steady pace. A young English speaking literate population assured a positive continuous growth of label usage, indicating a stability in continued growth and evolution. This fact started to sink in and the ownerships in the industry started transforming. 

In the start of the new millennium the international interest in Indian label industry became evident. Paper products Limited, established in 1935 in Lahore (Then a part of India), a flexible packaging company had entered label manufacturing in 1994 and in mid-1999 multinational Huhtamaki had acquired 50% of the shareholding in Paper Products Ltd. and later acquiring it wholly. Even though label manufacturing was a small part of their business yet, this I believe was the point when we saw the start of entry of multinational companies investing in label manufacturing in India.

Other foreign companies who entered and invested into label manufacturing in India included the likes of 3M in 1987, Brady’s in 2006, Printcare in 2008 and some others mostly in garment accessories business. Then we did have those who tried, indulged but had to shelve  their plans. CCL acquired a stake in Mumbai based Super labels in 2011 but had to stop as the relationship did not work out, Mikael Dahl of Nordvalls Sweden too invested with a partner and later quit and then there is Reynders who partnered with Goodwork company but later they split and both partners went their own way to run their own label companies in India, Reynders have their wholly owned company Reynders in Chopanki, Rajasthan. As regards material side in labelstock manufacturing, the world’s largest, Avery Dennison started manufacturing in Gurgaon India in 1997.

Kaygee Papers Pvt. Ltd. was set up by Pranay Godha in 1997. It became Kaygee-Loparex, a joint venture in 2001 with investment from Loparex, the world’s leading developer and producer of specialty paper and film release liners. In 2015, Loparex Group assumed 100% ownership of the Indian joint venture company, Kaygee-Loparex India Private Ltd. later renamed Loparex India Private Limited. Meanwhile the founder Pranay Godha moved on to join IPCA laboratories headed by his father  Premchand Godha. Pranay is now the executive director of this global pharmaceuticals company.

The mergers and acquisition activity in the Indian label industry got a fillip when in February 2012 Gururaj Ballarwad led Wintek Flexoprints based in Bangalore India, had been acquired by Hyderabad based ITW Signode, a subsidiary of the multi-billion Dollar fortune 200 global industrial products company ITW, head quartered in Illinois, USA. Wintek is now a part of Signode India Limited. Gururaj the co-founder of Wintek after completing his post-handover stint is now enjoying his retirement. He spent many months with his daughter and grandchildren in the UK and then some time in USA visiting and attending a wedding in family of a friend. His sons run their package printing business on their own. He now relaxes at his home in Bangalore and uses his time reading and researching religious epics like Bhagwad Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharta, etc. He is also indulging in authoring some of his findings. However still he is available to his label industry friends for any advice they need from him.

Two weeks after Wintek was acquired by ITW, another European multinational label and packaging company Skanem, acquired India’s biggest label printers Interlabels, Mumbai. Headed by the brothers Bhavin and Gautam Kothari, Interlabels had been in the forefront of label industry. Bhavin Kothari has been one of the founders of LMAI (Label Manufacturers Association of India) and later the President of this association. Post-acquisition Bhavin is now heading a professionally managed company Qodenext. QodeNext is the merged entity of Mumbai based Intellicon Private Limited, Bangalore based Essae Technologies Private Limited and Mumbai based Intercode Solutions Private Limited. QodeNext is a supply chain traceability technology, consulting and service company providing solutions for Barcode, RFID, Vision, Cognitive Computing, IoT, Predictive Analysis and emerging technologies. Bhavin does oversee the business but it is not a 9am to 5pm job, he spends a lot of time pursuing his hobby of playing Golf. 

Gautam Kothari also has a startup in which he is actively involved. He invested in an enterprise started by his ex-employees, “Worldpack Automation Systems Pvt. Ltd.” manufacturing Automated Labelling Systems. Though it is a 10 AM  to 5PM business that he attends at least 4 to 5 days a week, but he is happy he does not have the stress that was prevalent when in label manufacturing. “I have more control over my time, taking time off for personal family vacation is now easy and without any stress” says Gautam . He also has a label factory with a partner in Bangladesh, he does visit some time, but in the last two years did not go there due to pandemic.

In September 2012, Mumbai based Positive Packaging Industries Ltd., a leading player in the flexible packaging space, a part of the international conglomerate, the Enpee Group with manufacturing facilities in India, Nigeria and UAE, acquired Bangalore based SGRE Labels Private Limited led by Sujeev G and Subba Reddy. Post-acquisition Sujeev and Subba Reddy set up SGRE Pack Pvt. Ltd. to manufacture rigid boxes.

By end of the year 2012 in November, controlling stake in Mumbai based Webtech Labels led by Amar Chhajed was acquired by Indian subsidiary of Huhtamäki Oyj. Later Webtech became an integral part of Huhtamaki and Amar was elevated to become the president of their labeling division. By March 31, 2022, Amar Chhajed left Huhtamaki to move on to other avenues. He has invested in real estate through his new venture Webtech Realty in which he is involved full time. In fact, he is now a builder and is building two important projects one of which is perhaps the largest real estate project in Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai. He has also  invested in a few other projects to support the promoters known to him, one of them is Pactech Machinery making label applicators, but his role is limited to being an investor only. That remains his only small connect with the packaging industry.

In January 2015 Huhtamaki acquired Positive Packaging Industries India Ltd. Since label manufacturing company SGRE had earlier been acquired by Positive Packaging, the label business was addition to the growing capacity of labels manufacturing for multinational Huhtamaki in India.

With Amar Chhajed at helm as President of their labeling business Huhtamaki India completed the acquisition of Indian part of Chandan Khanna’s Ajanta Packaging Private Limited in June 2018. Chandan was still young to retire and moreover he still had his UAE and Thailand factories. He initially visualized a sabbatical and fun times ahead using the geographical location of his factories for vacationing to mix business with pleasure. His wife Kiran had given up her work to bring up the children and now when they were grown, the entrepreneur in her surfaced. She suggested to Chandan that they had done enough business in B2B space, now they should try their hand at the B2C segment. She decided to let the designer in her to emerge and with financial support from husband Chandan, she initiated her startup Stylejunkiie www.stylejunkiie.com offering Apparel and Clothing for fashion statement makers. They started with online selling and a store in Mumbai. Chandan does support her as an investor partner and as an experienced person in managing business, he guides her, otherwise the venture is totally Kiran’s to run and grow. Surprisingly after selling Indian part of the business, Chandan and his wife Kiran are buoyant and with renewed energy ready to grow their fashion apparel business to great heights.

On April 29, 2022, Mumbai headquartered SMI Coated products Pvt. Ltd. Led by Ajay Mehta was 100% acquired by Jindal Poly Films’ wholly owned subsidiary – Jindal PolyPack. SMI is the largest Indian company that manufactures self-adhesive labelstock having production facility at Ambernath with a slitting and distribution company in Jebel Ali, UAE. Post divesting his stake in SMI, Ajay and family are taking a sabbatical for four to six months before deciding their next venture. At this time, they are relaxed and talking to people exploring options for their next move, but they are not in a hurry. Meanwhile they have setup an investment company in UAE to make investments where they deem fit.

Pensively Ajay mentions, that with this he has done the right thing for his team who helped him reach this level, however it is disturbing that he has got distanced from a lot of friends from the labels industry for which he did a lot and was always there to support. He is happy and thankful for the love and respect he has got from his peers in the label industry. Still positive and not calling it a day, he is ready to indulge and rise to another level.

Many years ago, when the world was going through a recession, our European and American friends expressed surprise when they met their Indian friends, they would say that in the western world when economically there is meltdown, any would make a face and either say, “surviving!” or “Not too good.” On the contrary if you meet an Indian and you ask, “How is business?” pat comes the reply, “GOOD!” It is our heritage and we have been taught that when questioned “how are you?” The answer in Hindi, our national language, is “THEEK HAI” means, “Fine.” So, for, all the India entrepreneurs  who sold their stakes, did not entirely quit, it is “theek hai” and now another venture and another success. They, or their families have either started new ventures or on the verge of investing to keep moving on!

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi May 2022. Author https://harveersahni.blogspot.com and www.labelsandpackagingworld.com

Label printing technologies have undergone a sea change after the onset of 21st century. In the beginning of new millennium, the flatbed and letterpress processes made way for the narrow web flexographic printing which eventually grew to become the most preferred print technology for labels. With technological advances in prepress and plate-making process, Flexo print quality became closer to offset. This was followed up by hybrid printing using flexo, screen, gravure and later also offset printing in a single pass. We have been seeing the convenience of desktop office printers, inkjet or laser but they remained that way for long and were not used for high quality labels in roll form. It is only in the second decade of the 21st century that digital label printing began evolving. By middle of the decade, it was growing substantially in the western part of the World, yet but in India it did not find many takers.

 

In May 2015, I reviewed and wrote about the indulgence of Indian label industry in Digital printing equipment, I interviewed leading label printing companies of that time in an article titled; “Label Printing in India, digital has to wait”, available at the link;   https://harveersahni.blogspot.com/2015/05/label-printing- in-india-digital-has-to.html

In the summation I wrote; I am quite amazed by the similarity of responses from most of the persons who responded. All of them had expressed that the cost per print in digital does not prove it to be a viable proposition, considering the prohibitive cost of the equipment and that of ink and consumables. The undercurrent in all expressions is that digital printing as things stand now will not be the mainstream technology. It will co-exist with existing technologies and will be used for specific demanding needs. As for the time frame before digital printing becomes largely visible and used in label printing in India, they said it varies between 3 to 5 years. So, for the time being, “It has to wait a while!”

 

Two years hence, on May 7th 2017 I did yet another survey and wrote my article titled, “Digital label printing in India, the journey has begun! Self Adhesive Labels Industry In India and The World: Digital label printing in India, the journey has begun! (harveersahni.blogspot.com)My estimation was as follows: By latest count, the population of leading brands of digital label presses in India had reached twenty-two in number. This was besides the low value small printers that some companies may have acquired. Now this was a fairly impressive figure when just until over a year back the industry felt that digital has to wait. Estimating the size of the digital label market, I calculated the total consumption in the industry for digitally printed labels to over 52 million square meters per annum, which translated into to almost 5% of the total self-adhesive labels in India to be printed digitally. This surely indicated that for digital label printing in India, the journey had begun!

 

 

European Label Industry Association Finat had revealed in a statement that European digital label press installations overtook conventional press sales for the first time in 2017. The journey that began, has now progressed to be on a growth path. In fact, repetitive purchase confirms that the technology is not only here to stay but also attain steady growth.

 

 

 

 
In the present private survey or research in respect of digital printing of labels in roll form, done personally by me, I have arrived at interesting results. The data being presented here is entirely my own estimation and I have not depended on any already published authenticated information. I have interacted with the following renowned brands to arrive at figures that I present in this article;

 

Domino

Durst

Epson

HP

Konica Minolta

Monotech

Screen

Xeikon

 

The number of digital roll label presses of leading brands in India has expanded from the 22 in 2017 to 51 in 2022 registering a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of 18% as regards the number of press installations. Out of these HP Indigo accounts for 16 presses  which include two 25K which find usage both for labels as well as for flexible packaging and one HP Indigo for Lamitubes, Konica Minolta 10, Monotech 8, Domino 3, Xeikon 2, Durst 4, Screen 2, Epson was 5 machines as assessment done in 2017 since they did not respond I believe there have been no additions thereafter. Two water-based  inkjet presses from Astronova are also in the tally of 51 presses. If we consider just the numbers, Hp has 32% share of the installations, Konica Minolta 20%, Monotech 16%, Durst 8%, Domino 6%, Epson, Screen and Astronova account for the balance . However, this is not a real indicator of the quantum of investment by label printing companies in digital printing technology. I have done the calculation on the approximate costs of these equipment, the total investment in digital roll label equipment is more than Rupees 215 Crores or about 28 million US Dollars.  HP being the most expensive equipment of the lot, accounts for a whopping 66% of the investment made in value  while all others remain less than 10%.

 

Considering the geographical spread in number of installations; 36% of the established brand installations are in the West of India, 36% in the North and 11% in South. However, in terms of value,   the West leads the way, followed by South. As for label materials consumed, in 2017 I had calculated that 52 million square meters of labelstock was converted by digital printing. The consumption with increased investments and faster speeds appears to have more than doubled to over 109 million square meters registering a CAGR of 16%. As indicated by the people I interviewed there are many more installations being planned that will ensure continuous growth in this segment of label printing and converting.

Digital printing means web to print; it is an exciting process as compared to the analogue or conventional printing, yet it brings with it, challenges that translate it into a not so simple process. A technology that was initially being promoted as a complementary technology to conventional printing has reached a stage of being referred to as a competitive one. With presses going wider and running at higher speed and consumables getting affordable, it will not be long before it becomes a contemporary mainstream technology . However, those who have had the success and have understood the nuances of digital printing, are looking at expanding further in this segment of printing. I sought comments from many who have invested into digital capabilities and their responses make interesting reading.

Denver Annunciation, Janus International:  Janus International are pioneers, they were the very first label manufacturing company who invested in an HP Indigo press at their Thane facility. The brothers Denver and Janus are very enterprising. They have offset, flexo and Digital printing capabilities, all of which are doing well for them. They are a company who are growing beyond the inflationary growth. Being  manufacturer of beer and liquor labels, they wanted to do something different, and they took the challenge of investing in digital label printing. Since HP was the only established supplier of digital presses at that time with a proper setup, it was natural for them to install an HP Indigo press. Denver says, “Digital helped us cater to smaller businesses and widen our customer base while our other capabilities drove in the volumes.”  According to him digital does provide opportunities for creativity but it is not a standalone equipment that will deliver. You need different prepress and post-press finishing setup. It also involves additional resources that add up to per unit cost like requirement of same amount of manpower for packing, delivering and invoicing smaller shipments. Despite this adds Denver, “it gives a fair return and we will definitely look at expanding our digital capabilities“. Referring to their experience with digital Denver says, “Initial challenges were there, it has been a long journey, but surely enjoyable”.

Anil Namugade, Trigon Digital: Trigon Digital has been in the news in recent years for their multiple investments and expansion in the state of art digital equipment. Anil Namugade Managing Director of Trigon while answering why he opted for digital says, “Good label finishing and converting for me is like oxygen to heart, blood and brain for creativity.” Trigon has invested in multiple digital equipment and the biggest of them an HP Indigo 25K, his second HP Indigo after the first 6900. He asserts that digital has helped them grow, as since their inception 14 years ago they have been using only digital technology. Their business has been growing. Anil expresses, “digital is a mindset, we need to have a bit different approach in understanding the customer’s requirements and our capabilities to serve them.”

Honey Vazirani, Leap Digiprint:  Honey and Vikram, both directors of Leap Digiprints, spent 25 years in labels and packaging industry working for Paper products Ltd. later renamed Huhtamaki PPL Limited after acquisition by multinational Huhtamaki Oyj, so packaging is what they knew best. Wanting to be more futuristic, ecofriendly and wishing to initiate a small boutique business of their own, they made the choice to setup their maiden startup venture in Noida NCR Delhi. Selecting a strong digital print partner that time, HP was the best choice. The technology has helped them grow, giving the desired results from producing variable and short run of labels. Says Honey,” The turnaround times, print runs of 100-200 meters, variable printing…all the capabilities that attracted us to digital are still clear advantages.” Further she  adds, “Overall it has been good experience. However, it is not as trouble free as one would expect it to be. Also, the costs and pricing need to be handled effectively but unfortunately the downstream conversion for labels (post digital printing) is not as well developed as it should be to support short runs”

Harish Gupta, Sai Digistik: Harish Gupta led Sai Digistik has invested in two digital label presses HP with liquid toner & Konica Minolta with dry toner technology. According to Harish, the dry toner technology has limitations of only CMYK printing, no white and printing on limited substrates, so we have both liquid toner and dry toner printing capabilities to have the best of both. Cost of digital printing is high, it was very good working with digital during pandemic phase-1 when manpower was short, and requirements were instant. Short runs are easy to handle, and we got focused to help startups for their smaller needs with our motto “Startup for Startups.” With no need of plates and make ready etc., the turnaround time is less, yet it is not a simple technology, one needs to study thoroughly before investing. Cost of producing labels is higher as compared to flexo, but it is felt that, as we grow in volumes the costs of consumables will reduce. However, as we see the trends globally, with manpower becoming a challenge and reducing length of jobs, digital is bound to grow and find preference.

Surendra Shriyan, Maa Flexi-label: An offset printer who realised that volume-based production has decreased with more variables and short runs, in the given scenario digital is the future for good printability and  fast turnaround time. They opted for HP Indigo label press. Being new entrants, they are exploring exciting possibilities but feel pricing in digital is a challenge. After observing the changes in the western world regarding the digital label printing, even though they are convinced that it is futuristic, yet they say, “It is not all, a bed of roses.”

Nilesh Jain, Mahavir Impex: They opted for a Durst UV Inkjet label press for its print quality output without applying any primer on most substrates. Nilesh expresses that digital has helped to achieve desired results within minimal time and reduction of undesired wastages. They feel it will become the predominant technology , but the results from different digital print technologies (dry toner/liquid toner /UV Inkjet etc.) would not give a uniform and similar print result on various substrates. The advantage of digital for them is outstanding quality achieved at good speed and reduction of waste with no investment on plates and other expenses.

Manish Hansoti, S Kumar: Narrating his experience with digital label printing, Manish Hansoti says; “Looking to cater to demand of small quantity, variable printing multiple S K U’s and label on demand, we have invested in a Screen digital label printing press. We had assessed all technologies and found Screen ink jet printing technology was a better fit for us as we wanted to print labels with less ink coverage for specific customers. The cost of the ink in this process was found lower as against dry toner FASMA/click charges. We consider digital technology as part of customer service because in small volume there is no chance of making topline but can get customer satisfaction. The technology will grow if the capex goes down and ink price or click charges drop, then there will be big changes in global printing scenario. Short run or variable printing is profitable but there is limitation in getting many such orders, so we always have spare capacity. We do not see another investment in digital until costs of inputs come down.”

Priyank Vasa from Unick Fix A Form: “The Domino N610i digital label press was acquired by us in 2018. Wanting to free up our flexo capacity to improve turnaround time and job throughput, we started exploring options. We narrowed down to the Domino N610i because of Domino's strong presence in India and its service network.

Evaluating its media compatibility, color matching, accuracy of pantone reproduction, ink cost analysis, it looked the right press for us. The press was commissioned in the beginning of 2020. Dealing with a modern technology we knew there lies a learning curve ahead. In the present-day scenario, we have been able to take up new business both for flexo and digital. Digital has added to our sales where we are able to completely leverage the opportunity cost which could not happen in flexo. We do not limit use of the digital press to small runs. It has also opened new avenues for us in respect to products like IML, Shrink sleeves, Cartons and VDP.”

 

Vinod Vazhapuli, Skanem IndiaHaving run a very innovative campaign for the FMCG company Reckitt Benckiser(RB) Vinod Vazhapuli Managing Director of Skanem India is very optimistic about including more digital printing capabilities in his company’s expansion plans. Skanem  had been a part of Dettol’s unique packaging commemorating Covid warriors. Please see my blogpost titled Dettol Labels used to salute "Covid Warriors"! Skanem India, a part of Norway headquartered Skanem AS was one of the two approved vendor of RB who were roped in to execute this special campaign of Dettol customized labels. The deliberations for this campaign started when Reckitt approached Skanem in second week of May 2021 and discussed the possibility of creating one hundred variably printed unique labels. Having an HP Indigo press, the capability was there. They were given an order for two million labels. It was a gigantic task as there were one hundred artworks. RB wanted the right pantone shade of Dettol and the job had to be done in speed, so Skanem requested RB to give them the artworks also in CMYK because to match the green Dettol shade as close as possible to the required shade it is necessary to have the prepress right. The approvals were done online and the material delivered in time. That is the power of digital, the rest is history.

 

Rajeev Chhatwal, Kwality Offset: Rajeev sums it all well, he says he sees a good future for digital label converting. Printers need to look at this technology positively and separately without drawing a comparison with analogue or current capabilities even though it is a business that needs to run parallel with your current profile of business. One of the biggest advantage of digital is that it helps one to increase customer base. A larger customer base, if attended well, ensures continued growth. To find success in digital arena one needs to accept that there is a definite learning phase and one must provide for contingencies while planning and be prepared for them. Rajeev says, “It is a business that has a bright future in which the fittest, the one with guts and endurance, will survive and excel. It is a business that provides impetus to your present business and when you do short, variable and personalized run for a customer, you have a happy customer! In a young Indian population becoming spenders, ecommerce is looking up, does it not ensure positive growth of Digital which permits variable and personalized printing? Are we not looking at the numbers of startups on rise? My next investment, maybe a year down the line,  will be digital, I invested in a Xeikon with dry toner technology, which I am happy with, I will probably go for a UV Inkjet next to expand my capabilities”.

 

The author is grateful to the people without whose help and inputs this compilation may not have been possible. Those whose support I got, include Umesh Kagade and entire team of HP, Shayak Mukherjee of Konica Minolta, Ajay RaoRane of Domino Printech, Vikram Saxena of Xeikon, Jimit Mittal of Monotech and Ajay Agarwal of Insight Print Communication for Screen and Venkatesh Selveraj of Printronics for Durst.

Note: Printing magazine and portals can republish the above ONLY after giving credit to the author Harveer Sahni and mentioning blog https://harveersahni.blogspot.com 

 

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India April 2022

Narinder Chhatwal hailed from a family of traders in Lyallpur, a city which is now in Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947. Lyallpur was named after the founder of the city the then Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, Sir James Lyall, for his role in establishing the canal colonisation project. In 1977 the Government of Pakistan changed the name of the city from Lyallpur to Faisalabad (‘City of Faisal’) in honour of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, who made several financial contributions to Pakistan. Faisalabad is the third-most-populous city in Pakistan after Karachi and Lahore, respectively. It was in the turbulent times of 1947 during the division of India into India and Pakistan, that the Chhatwals migrated to New Delhi. After completing his schooling, Narinder Chhatwal took up a job in the iconic Kwality Restaurant in coveted location, New Delhi’s Connaught Place, a venture set up in 1940 by P L Lamba and his brother-in-law I K Ghei who grew it as a multilocation restaurant chain. Narinder worked there until 1961. There was a strong urge to have his own business, so he set up a unit to produce ice cream cups but as situation warranted then, he left this venture and rejoined Kwality Restaurant yet again in 1964. Despite the stable job, the entrepreneur in him was restless and the urge to set up his own production unit re-surfaced and he finally quit the job permanently to start a printing unit nostalgically named Kwality Carton Manufacturing Company, in a single room rented at Kirti Nagar, New Delhi in 1966-67 using the manually fed treadle letterpress printing machine. He manufactured Ice cream cups, lids, cartons for Ice cream bricks and in fact a host of printed packaging items. In 1971 he could get an allotment for an industrial plot from government at Naraina Industrial Area and he moved the unit to this location where from, they operate to this date.

 
A little over a year after moving into their Naraina factory they bought their first offset printing press, a 712 single colour Dominant, a year later they bought another similar press and followed it up with a 714 Dominant. Falling short of space, the adjoining building was available, so they bought it as they were growing. In 1982-83, expanding further they acquired a two colour Planeta. Once into offset printing, Kwality was in expansion mode, they were adding equipment every alternate year. At this time, they renamed the company as Kwality Offset Printers. In 1986 Narinder Chhatwal’s son Rajeev an 18-year-old had joined business. Rajeev did his initial Schooling at Springdales School Delhi followed with graduation from Delhi University. The post partition Punjabi families who left all that they had, back in what had become Pakistan were hard working and were quick to start from scratch to regain their stature by sheer hard work. The second generation were all following their father’s footsteps and would be helping their parents in the work, spending time after school or college on the shopfloors of their startup units. For them, the shop floors became the training ground, and they learnt the nuances of business hands on. Rajeev was no different, with a  father like Narinder mentoring him and passing on the experience to his son who was a quick learner, he settled down in the business quickly. He however did go for a short training program at Heidelberg Germany. With his joining in, the business accelerated and soon the space in their Naraina factory was again falling short. In 1988, they bought out yet another next-door unit to make room for more production space so now the factory is operating from three adjacent plots. The same year they bought their first four colour offset press a secondhand Roland. Expansion became a routine process. They believed and were convinced that as far as possible it is better to operate from a unified single location in one city. This way the management which was Narinder Chhatwal, and his son Rajeev Chhatwal were not split and would remain a support to each other.

 

 

Until 1995 Kwality offset was producing Cartons, some commercial printed items and wet glue labels. In 1995-96 they decided to become a hundred percent label manufacturing unit which was only wet glue labels. The story of their entry into wet glue labels is interesting. In the early 1990s when the number of breweries started to grow and bottling speeds were on the rise. To label bottles at 250 bottles per minute, the labels needed to be perfectly die punched and stacked to run on highspeed lines. The normal flatbed dies would not work well. Kwality, because of their experience in ice cream cups and lids production were well versed in ram die punching and their workers were well trained in the process. Their manufactured labels ran extremely well on the high-speed labelling machines at breweries and distilleries and soon the word spread of their capabilities. This helped them get the orders from many other breweries and liquor producing companies. It was just a matter of time that they became the largest suppliers of wet glue labels in north India, though they were supplying pan national. It is interesting to note that normally people print and then get into label finishing equipment, here because of their knowledge of finishing the ice cream cup lids by hydraulic ram punching got them into high end big volume label printing. Their first customer for beer labelling was a government owned Haryana breweries at Sonepat making a popular brand of beer those days “Rosy Pelican.” Their success in making the perfectly die-punched wet glue labels also got them their first break in corporate world with orders from the multinational brand owner Nestle.

 

 

It was in the year 2000 when self-adhesive labels were gaining in popularity, the Chhatwals invested in a Mark Andy 2200  narrow web label press and in the following year, they also increased their investment in sheetfed offset by installing a six colour Heidelberg press. In 2002 they installed another sheetfed offset a five colour Roland with UV and online coater. Hereon, expansion became an ongoing process, they added three Mark Andy presses, a Gallus and a Xeikon in 2018 to make their entry into digitally printed labels with an ABG Digicon series 3 finishing and embellishing machine, which also has hot foil stamping , embossing and screen-printing capabilities. These investments enabled them to add multiple security features on labels. Increasing their footprint in flexo they also set up inhouse platemaking with Kodak Flexcel. Rajeev’s father Narinder Chhatwal passed away in 2008 until when, he was still attending business, though the reins had been passed on to his son Rajeev.

 

 

Rajeev’s other siblings include a younger brother who is into real estate and a sister who is a homemaker. His wife Shalini is also a home maker. His son Krish completed his business management from Sydney and joined business at Kwality offset four years ago. Two of those initial years were passed in facing the pandemic and last year in 2021 he got married. Krish’s wife Sanya, an expert in baking, after completing a course from APCA Malaysia, is running her own business, a bakery named Delhi’ce in Gurgaon making specialty cakes. Rajeev’s daughter recently completed her study in architecture and is now pursuing her career as an architect.

 

 

Having put in place a full-fledged team to manage all production, Rajeev, and son Krish personally look after sales and marketing. While Krish looks after all new customers, Rajeev manages and caters to, and successfully retains all old customers. The present spread of business is with three flexo presses, one digital label press Xeikon, Abg digicon, one Roland and one Heidelberg sheet offset press in a shopfloor admeasuring approximately 60,000 square feet. Total workforce is 130 persons all in one location at Naraina Industrial Area New Delhi. With no more space left for expansion at present location, they have bought a 2200 square yard plot at Manesar south of New Delhi for another factory to fuel their further expansion. When asked about future plans, Rajeev expresses that they are not really concerned about just volumes, they are more oriented to implement better and innovative technology and be profitable to grow the bottom line instead of focusing on bigger turnovers. Kwality has been growing at about 10 percent per annum and they are committed to maintain the growth rate. Conscious about the environment they have tied up with approved and certified waste management agencies as also cooperating with Avery Dennison on their waste management endeavours. They even try and source most of their paper materials from FSC certified vendors. Despite the aftereffects of pandemic, the father-son team are committed and firm to keep the expansion and investment in new technologies an ongoing process. Their resolve years ago to give-up cartons and other commercial printing to stay with 100% manufacturing of labels is unique in today’s situation. These days offset printers do integrate forward to produce labels and vice-versa label printers, in an effort to grow turnovers, expand into print packaging. They wish to remain specialty label printers, investing into innovation.

 

Written by Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi March 2022

PS: Printing Magazine may publish this article giving credit to author Harveer Sahni and Blog https://harveersahni.blogspot.com  

LMAI Board of directors


The 3-day LMAI label conference from 25th-27th July 2019 was an event that was efficiently organized and delivered the promise of comradeship, entertainment and knowledge sharing. From the time of landing at Kochi to the time of departures on 28th, it was all done with clockwork precision. It was a gigantic task of hosting over 550-600 delegates from all over India and various parts of the world attending this biennial event. They were put up in 317 rooms spread across 3 hotels The Bolgatty Grand Hyatt, The Marriot and The Taj. The event was held at Grand Hyatt, perched on 26 acres of plush green land on the serene Bolgatty Island, Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty is a waterfront urban resort overlooking the backwaters of Vembanad Lake.

After a smooth check-in and registrations, the delegates reassembled for start of conference. 

It all started with traditional lighting of the lamp.

Welcome address by Kuldeep Goel President LMAI followed next.

Pankaj Bhardwaj Senior Director and General Manager Avery Dennison delivered the thought-provoking keynote address, setting the tone of the conference. Pankaj, while referring to the growing Indian market mentioned, “Diminishing divide between urban-rural population in India and an aspiring middle class means a growing demand of consumer products and also label”.

Due to a delayed flight, special guest Lisa Milburn Managing Director Labelexpo Group UK could not reach in time to deliver her address and in her absence, Pradeep Saroha country manager Labelexpo spoke to update the audience about the forthcoming Labelexpo Europe in Brussels, it being the 40th anniversary of Labelexpo additional features included will be on sustainability, flexible packaging, digital printing and a host of other technologies.

Manish Desai Conference chairman spoke on the flow of events at the conference.

Shahidi Ainain Director SIES School of packaging who was moderator for the event gave the guidelines to be followed while making presentations and advised speakers on the need for time management.

The audience dispersed to re-assemble again later for welcome dinner with Thallaavia theme.

L to R: Ajay Mehta, Amit Sheth, Dinesh Mahajan, Raveendran, Harveer Sahni
Pankaj Bhardway-Avery, Kuldip Goel, Rajesh Nema, Sandeep Zaveri,
Vivek Kapoor, Ramesh Deshpande and Amar Chhajed

The conference being held in Kerala, it was an imperative to give it a local theme on the very first evening. All the Board of Directors of LMAI and Committee members dressed up in the local Malayali traditional dress, giving the evening a local celebratory touch. After felicitation of sponsors by committee members and their walk on the ramp there was Carnatic band playing, networking and dinner.

A surprise announcement was made for bestowing upon Amit Sheth of Label Planet and Intergraphic a lifetime award for contribution to the Indian Label Industry! After an emotional thank you speech, Amit walked the ramp with wife Rupa and their two daughters.

Next day after breakfast the audience reassembled for a busy day full of presentations by eminent sponsors and of very high standards. Past President Vivek Kapoor’s welcome address was followed by presentation by Manoj KM and Parag Bagade of Avery Dennison. While Manoj spoke on futuristic labelstock offerings, Parag spoke on the sustainability endeavours by Avery including collection and recycling of liner and self-adhesive waste.

Presentations made were as follows;
Avery Dennison India, Manoj KM and Parag Bagade, “Emerging Technology & Sustainability”Pulisi Technology, Olive Liu, “Relationship between Technology and Life”SMI Coated Products: Ajay Mehta and Rohit Mehta, “Technical Aspects of Applications of Label Stock Solutions”Domino Printech India: David Ellen, “Advantages of HYBRID systems for labels and Packaging converters”Vinsak India: Ranesh Bajaj, “Future Based Solutions”Retail Solution and Technologies: T. R. Ravishankar, “Trends in Barcoding and Enterprise Mobility”WEIGANG: Spring Xu, “Features enhancing to choose a good flexo machine”Luster LightTech Group: Carrie Duan, “Mining your potential”Nilpeter India: Manish Kapoor, Indian Label Indusrty – “The question of Scale and Scalability”Insight Print Communications: Ajay Aggarwal, “Transition to Digital – Now and for Future”Loparex: Manish Jain, “Future Sustainability”Heidelberg and Gallus: Samir Patkar, “The Power of 2 – when conventional meets digital (hybrid technology)”DuPont Advanced Printing: Shyamal Desai, “End user benefits”Flint Group India: Shailesh Kumar Sharma, “New Gen Color Management”HP India Sales: Appadurai, “Future is Now”BOBST Firenze SRL: Ludovico Frati, “Connectivity”Dragon Foils – Inter Films India: Raymond Lu, “Innovation and frontier of cold foil technology”

Two interactive and knowledge imparting Panel Discussions moderated by LMAI Board member Harveer Sahni of Weldon Celloplast were held after lunch. The first one was with printers where the topic was, “Creating the future vs embracing the future”.

Panelists included Priyata Raghavan Sai Security Printers, Tejas Tanna of Printmann, Aaditya Kashyap of Marksfine, Mahendra Shah of Renault Paper, Shakti Jain of Great Eastern IDTech, Yudhviram Solanki of Sicon Packs and Anurag Mohan of Interact.

The second Panel discussion was with industry suppliers as panelists and titled, “Evolving trends in Labels manufacturing!” Eminent suppliers who were in the panel and gave thought provoking inputs included;

Bhupinder Singh of Avery Dennison, Samir Patkar of Heidelberg Gallus, Appa Durai of HP, Ranesh Bajaj of Vinsak, Pawandeep Sahni of Omet, Manish Kapoor of Nilpeter, Prasenjit Das of Dupont and Sreenivas Goud of Flint. Time being a constraint the audience wished there was more time for these engaging discussions but since the schedule for the conference was so packed that there was no room for extension

After the day’s presentations ended, there was an excellent talk sponsored by SMI and Pulisi on “Secrets of Impactful Success” by motivational Guru, Gaur Gopal Das which left a full packed hall of almost 600 people spellbound and in awe of what he delivered. 

The evening ended with yet another program sponsored by SMI and Pulisi, a musical performance by the visually impaired performers from the National Organisation of Disabled Artists. They sang old Bollywood songs so well that it left the audience full of awe and at that moment, compassion turned into joy, watching their special abilities to deliver so well to a large audience.

The label printing fraternity was up on its feet and on to the dance floor enjoying the renderings of this awesome group. Towards the end, the President LMAI on behalf of his team announced an additional sum of Rupees one lakh over and above what they had contracted for.

This was followed by many in the audience committing large sums to support the social cause of encouraging disabled artists.

On the final day after a welcome address more presentations as mentioned below followed;

Apex Asia Pacific: Carl Brock, “Nothing short of revolution in flexographic printing”Flexo Image Graphics: Ian Pollock, “Future of Printing Technology”ROGLER International Sàrl: Hannes Rogler, “Future based solution”Multitec Aids: Amit Ahuja, “Life beyond labels”RotoMetrics: Cain Harper, “It’s about more than the die”Brotech Digital Graphics: Ramon Lee, “The future of hybrid printing and finishing”GEW: Marcus Greenbrook, “Upcoming Technology”Numex Blocks: Supachai Theravithayangkura, “Innovative Flexo Plate Solutions for Narrow Web Printing”JN Arora presentation

A panel discussion jointly hosted and moderated by Ajay Mehta of SMI Coated papers and Amit Sheth of Pulisi Technology was conducted with young panelists that included Hemanth Paruchuri of Pragati Pack, Vidur Agarwal of Veekay Industries,

Krishh Chhatwal of Kwality Offset, Denver Annunvciation of Janus International and Naveen Goel of Any Graphics titled “Young printer’s perception on future of label industry”

After the presentations concluded that afternoon it was time for a “Sadhya” typical of that area. Sadhya in local language Malyalam is a feast of Hindu origin and of importance to Hindu Malayalis, consisting of a variety of traditional vegetarian dishes usually served on a banana leaf in KeralaIndia.

Sadhya means banquet in Malayalam. It is a vegetarian feast prepared by both men and women, especially when needed in large quantities, for weddings and other special events. Sadhya is typically served as a traditional dish for Onam, the state festival of Kerala. It was a feast for the eyes to see, a diverse gathering Indians and foreigners relishing the local cuisine and eating with bare hands.

Past president Sandeep Zaveri updated the audience about the next program of Round tables, the interaction between sponsors and Printers.

“Round tables” program with all sponsors attending to a rotating groups of label printers was a much-appreciated part of this conference. 

It gave the sponsors opportunity to interact with existing and prospective customers. This program was highly appreciated by the sponsors.

The final evening sponsored by Avery Dennison was themed “The Great Gatsby!”. 

American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional towns of West Egg and East Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. Fitzgerald—inspired by the parties he had attended while visiting Long Island’s North Shore—began planning the novel in 1923,

desiring to produce, in his words, “something new—something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” In the novel the character Gatsby throws very extravagant, excessive parties with hundreds of guests, all for the purpose to attract a lady’s attention. The evening had the settings of the 1920s.

The evening began with a vote of thanks by LMAI treasurer Dinesh Mahajan of Prakash Labels.

It was then time for SMI Managing Director Ajay Mehta’s talented daughter Nikita Mehta who trained in the USA and is all set to go professional in the Indian singing arena, to go on stage and give a melodious heartwarming singing performance.

Finally, while people enjoyed photo ops and networking over drinks.

Bollywood singer Nakash Aziz took the stage while the LMAI conference delegates hit the dance floor and enjoyed the fun until late in the night.

Credit goes to Hemal Bhagwat who heads the event management company Mercury Integrated along with her husband and a dedicated team. “Thank you Hemal for making this a memorable event, memories will linger on till it is time to plan yet another better and bigger LMAI CONFERENCE”

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi July 2019

Magazines are free to reproduce by giving credit to author.

At the last, Indian label industry event, “LMAI  Conference” in 2017 at Jaipur I promised to write the 2nd part of my first article titled  “History of the Indian Label Industry” which I wrote in 2006. It is available in this blog at https://harveersahni.blogspot.com/2010/08/history-of-indian-label-industry.html
I have now written the 2nd part. This is brief reporting so I plan to complete a book on the subject with a lot more expanded information in the near future. In a large country with industry spread over such a vast area and a huge population, it is difficult to chronicle all in few words. Being a long article, the part 2 of History of the Indian Label Industry will be posted on my blog in a series of four articles. The first part of series numbered  2A is as below;

The first decade of new millennium was very eventful for the Indian label industry. After 2006 a global economic recession surfaced and kept growing, affecting businesses across the world.

It even impacted many industries in India where we saw companies reducing manpower, which in turn affected spending in all segments of retail. Surprisingly while printers in India as well, were complaining of recessionary trends and difficulty in operations, yet the Indian label industry overall, continued to grow steadily. Capacity enhancement kept on being made, though it was a little reduced. The Indians became indulgent not only as label printers but also as diverse product and equipment suppliers to label printing companies. For the first time an Indian company Precise Graphics, later renamed PGI Technologies in 2005 produced a magnetic cylinder that worked on a label press. Dhiresh Ghosalia led Jesons, manufacturers of emulsion pressure sensitive adhesives for the label industry at their large factory in Daman, expanded and moved northwards in India and setup an additional manufacturing capacity at a 100,000 square feet facility in Roorkee. Kaygee Papers was promoted by Pranay Godha in 1997 to produce silicone coated release papers. In 2001 they made a Joint Venture, Kaygee Loparex Pvt. Ltd. with Loparex, a member of UPM group and world’s largest commercial Siliconiser. They continued to grow and became an important part of the Indian label industry in the first decade. In 2015 Loparex assumed 100% of the company and rechristened it as Loparex India Pvt. Ltd. In August 2007 Diehard Dies, based in Guntur Andhra Pradesh, started operations to become an indigenous manufacturer of flexible dies for the printing, packaging and label industry. By middle of 2019 Acme Rolltech a company led by 3 young entrepreneurs Parag Patel, Sandeep Sharma and Parag Koradiya started the first Indian facility manufacturing Ceramic Anilox Rolls. Sandeep, came to the partnership with 15 years of experience having worked with Avery Dennison, Kurz India and Domino Printech, Parag Patel and Parag Koradiya came from entrepreneurial background of manufacturing Gravure Cylinders. 

In 2007 the largest indigenous labelstock producer Ajay Mehta’s SMI Coated Products initiated an expansion program that would eventually place SMI as an undisputed leader in labelstock production by a wholly Indian owned company, not only in India but also in many international markets.

They procured a 6540 square meter plot in MIDC, Ambernath near Mumbai, constructed 2200 square meter shed, shifted all plant and machinery from Daman to Ambernath, added two silicon coating machines and one Acrylic Coating machine. In 2014 they increased the production area by another 3000 square meters and installed a Hot Melt coating line, following it up by installing yet another hotmelt adhesive coater later.  

In 2017 they purchased the adjoining plot admeasuring 9820 Square meters, constructed 1000 square meters to install Schaeffer moving racks for better handling of an increasing volume of goods in their expanding stores.

In 2019 they completed construction of another 3000 square meters shed and moved all coating machines to new premises along with a new emulsion adhesive coating tandem machine to do inline siliconizing and adhesive coating in a single pass, 1350 mm wide to run at a speed of 150 meters per minute, reaching an installed capacity of 19 million square meters per month. They celebrated their 25 years in grand style by hosting over 200 guests to visit their works besides take part in the celebrations. Other indigenous labelstock manufacturers also grew in their own respective regions. Stayon Papers and Sticon in Hyderabad, Million papers and NG papers in Chennai, Capri Coating Solutions in Mumbai, Shree Arihant, STP Paper, Gj Industries and many more in Delhi were some of the active and visible manufacturers. Some of the earlier leaders in the Labelstock manufacturing segment pulled back or shifted focus in view of depleting margins, intense competition and unviable credit terms.

Indian label press manufacturers transformed in this period to produce label presses that were comparable to international products and made their mark not only in India but internationally as well.

Amit Ahuja led Multitec is the front runner who had exhibited their first modular rotary flexo label press in partnership with Abhay Datta of Datta Press Delhi at the first India Label show in 2002 at Nehru Centre Mumbai. The association of Multitec with Datta came to an end around 2008. Multitec redesigned their label press as a competitive product with all basic features. After renaming the press, “Ecoflex” they relaunched it. Two year hence they launched yet another version of their label press and continued to upgrade their offerings and grow phenomenally. By the end of 2018 they had achieved outstanding success producing label presses from a quality accredited design and a fully integrated manufacturing facility spread over 26,000 square meters. At the time of writing this article their website reports having sold over 300 Label presses to over 25 countries through a team of agents spread across the world. Other Indian press manufacturers who also made their mark are mostly from Faridabad, south of Delhi, the same city as Multitec. They are Alliance Printech, Webtech Engineering, NBG Printographic Machinery Co. Pvt. Ltd., M Tech Industries, etc. Other than these, Ahmedabad based RK label machines claimed to have sold 150 rotary plus 600 flatbed label presses and Noida based Jandu Engineers had sold about 135 rotary flexo presses. Jandu is also a leading manufacturer of coating and laminating machines and has a large presence amongst local labelstock manufacturers and according to Baldev Singh Jandu, they have till date sold over 150 coaters.

The Indian label market was growing at a steady double-digit growth rate and interest of international label fraternity in India also kept on growing with it. Avery Dennison who had found success in the country had in 2007 invested in land admeasuring 22 acres at Ranjangaon near Pune for expansion.

In 2008 the facility was with a one-meter wide hotmelt coater having capability to run at 500 meters per minute with inline silicon coating, this compared to the first one-meter coater at Gurgaon that could run at 250 meters per minute. The then global CEO and President of Avery Dennison Corporation Dean Scarborough specially flew in to inaugurate the facility. In 2010 Raj Srinivasan who had established Avery’s foothold in India returned to USA handing over reigns of the Indian operations to Anil Sharma. New wave of professionalism descended in the working of Avery; more expansion followed with installation of a 1.5 meters hot melt coater in 2011 at Pune. In the same year a slitting facility was commissioned in Bangalore in 2011 to serve the southern customers effectively. To help the cause of a limited number of trained press operators in India in face of a growing label press population,  Avery Dennison Knowledge Centre was also set up in Bangalore to train people for becoming press operators, but later in 2018 the centre was moved to Pune, next to their research and development centre. In 2014 an emulsion coater of 1.5meter width was added at the Pune facility. In 2015 Anil Sharma was elevated for bigger responsibilities and handed over charge to his teammate Pankaj Bhardwaj. Amongst international Labelstocks companies UPM Raflatac had established a substantial foothold with their slitting facilities in India while Lintec, Ritrama, flexcon and a few others sold through agents or directly.

Increase in number of visitors to labelexpo Europe in Brussels was a positive indicator of a growing label market in India and the interests of printers to invest in globally acknowledged label presses. In 2005 Weldon Celloplast Ltd. was the lone Indian exhibitor and by 2011 edition of the show, the number of Indian exhibitors had swelled to fourteen, up from four in the previous show in 2009.

At Labelexpo Europe 2009 there were 338 Indian visitors and this figure had swelled to 429 in 2011. The number just went on increasing, there were more Indians then before at successive labelexpos.

In 2007 at Labelexpo Europe in Brussels Tarsus announced their acquisition of India Label show, a show that was set up by Anil Arora and his wife Neetu Arora.

The next edition of India Label show 2008 in New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan was held in the aftermath of terrorist attack in Mumbai and in the middle of a huge recession, yet the show stood its ground proving the strength of growing Indian label market. In 2010 the show was rechristened as Labelexpo India. The show owners Tarsus UK made a strategic alliance with Indian Label association LMAI for the event and to have an awards night and a gala dinner organised by Tarsus at every Labelexpo India. LMAI was to conduct the LMAI label awards which became a regular feature thereafter. In 2009 under the leadership of Vivek Kapoor, the longest serving president of LMAI who completed 3 terms of 2 years each, it was also planned to hold biennial LMAI conference in alternate years, the trend has carried on till date. The first LMAI conference was held in Hotel park Hyatt Goa in 2011 and the event grew to be held again in 2013 at Grand Hyatt Goa and at Hotel Jaypee Palace in Agra in 2017. 

In 2010 leading global associations came together under the aegis of FINAT and formed the federation of global associations called L8. Later with one more association joining it was renamed L9, the confederation of nine leading international label associations.

The alliance consisted of LMAI (India), JFLP (Japan), FINAT (Europe), TLMI (North America, LATMA (Australia), PEIAC (China), AMETIQ (Mexico), ABIEA (Brazil) and SALMA (New Zealand). Sandeep Zaveri of Total Prints took over the presidentship of LMAI in 2015 and handed over the charge to Kuldip Goel of Any Graphics in 2017.  At the 2017 conference in Agra 550 delegates attended making it the largest gathering of label printers at a single conference. A proud moment for me at the Agra conference in 2017 came when I was announced as the first and only recipient till then of a lifetime award for support to the Indian Label industry.  

In 2016 Labelexpo was moved to the Expo Mart in Greater Noida outside Delhi, a part of Delhi NCR (National Capital Region) due to non-availability of dates at New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan.

In 2018 also it was held at the Expo Mart as the venue, Pragati Maidan in Delhi, was under redevelopment. In 2018 for the first time LMAI hosted a very successful L9 meet in India on the sidelines of Labelexpo India.

The evolution of label industry in India has been a continuous process, from the earliest days of screen-printed labels in sheeted format in the 1970s to roll form labels to be converted on very narrow width flatbed Japanese presses and then over to rotary flexographic printing label presses in the early 1990s.

Until the end of 1990s the flexo printing process used water-based inks with hot air drying.

The polymer plate making technology was also evolving. The process was evolving but it had shortcomings. It was faster than the flat bed machines but lacked consistency due to drying and viscosity changing issues. Better prepress and improvements in platemaking technologies brought flexo printing to almost at par in quality to offset printing. This led the rapid growth in flexographic label printing. As demand escalated, investments in equipment also witnessed increase with printers demanding wider presses for increased productivity and reduced wastages. By end of the last century UV curable inks became available and changed the way flexo printing grew. Originally, UV technology was introduced to the world in the 1960s. The drying effect for water-based inks is brought about by evaporation of volatile components. The required energy is supplied via IR-radiation and/or hot air. A loss in the dried coating thickness will appear depending on the amount of the evaporated components. The volatile components must be removed by an extraction. However, in case of the UV inks, the drying effect is due to polymerization, i.e. on cross-linking of long molecular chains. The energy required for cross-linking is supplied via UV radiation. For 100 % solid body systems the thickness of the dry coating corresponds to the thickness of the wet coating. There are no losses due to evaporation. By 2010 new UV inks came with enhanced ink transfer properties as well as faster reactivity to UV curing, meaning speeds over 200 meters/min. were achievable. Towards end of 2009 the conventional UV started to evolve to low power consuming LED UV with longer life lamps that had surfaced internationally, though the system had yet to be widely accepted in India due to non-availability of parts and inks, but it was being investigated and expected to grow substantially in demand or replaced on existing presses.  Some of the international equipment manufacturers had already introduced alternatives such as LED UV and even Electron Beam curing technology as an alternative. From the middle of first decade of 21st century onwards there grew a demand for high end hybrid presses with increased features like automatic registration, multiple printing processes for combination printing and decoration capabilities. As sustainability and environmental concerns became an imperative; waste reduction, and waste management became a necessity when an investment in equipment was being made.End of Part 2A, To be continued…
The remaining parts will be posted in gaps of 7-10 days 
Note: No one is authorised to reproduce, copy or reprint this article until permitted by the author in writing. 
Written by Harveer Sahni Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi July 2019


Grand Hyatt Kochi
India’s label association LMAI’s 5th biennial conference is planned to be the biggest and most successful event of Indian label industry. The event is scheduled to be held at recently opened property, HOTEL GRAND HYATT, KOCHI, BOLGATTI from 25th – 28th July, 2019. Perched on 26 acres of plush green land on the serene Bolgatty Island, Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty is a waterfront urban resort overlooking the backwaters of Vembanad Lake.


Grand Hyatt Waterfront




Leading label printing companies and suppliers will meet to discuss, evaluate opportunities, learn and strike business partnerships that shape the future of their businesses in relaxing ambience and surroundings. LMAI conference has been growing in strength and numbers over the years.







2017 LMAI Conference at Agra





The last conference was held at Agra with 550 delegates. The LMAI leadership is expecting the attendance to jump up to 600 delegates. An elaborate knowledge sharing, entertainment and technical program is being put in place to deliver value to the LMAI members coming from all over India.






About the city Kochi: Kochi (formerly known as Cochin) is a city in southwest India's coastal Kerala state, fondly referred to as “God’s own country”. It has been a port since 1341, when a flood carved out its harbour and opened it to Arab, Chinese and European merchants. Sites reflecting those influences include Fort Kochi, a settlement with tiled colonial bungalows and diverse houses of worship. Cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, typical of Kochi, have been in use for centuries.