Change needs an owner – Indian Printer & Publisher

Printweek_India_06Sona Printers is a family owned press started up in the heart of South Delhi in the 1970s. In spite of being newer and smaller than many of the printing businesses in the city at the time, the company was one of the first to buy a phototypesetter. In the 1980’s Sona Printers shifted to its present larger building in the Okhla Industrial area. The company continued to grow as a leading commercial printer with multicolour offset presses and also became well-known as a leading supplier of notebooks and stationary with some of the latest converting equipment from Korber and ECH Will. However, Sona Printers more recent expansion has been in the commercial printing segment and book print exports.

A couple of weeks ago, we got our chance to be shown around Sona Printers and spend a little bit of time with an extremely modest and well-spoken young man, Nikhil Mittal who is the son of one of three brothers who started Sona Printers. Nikhil seems to have very usefully spent three years at the London College of Printing (now known as the London College of Communication). Nikhil seems to have taken advantage of the many opportunities that a printing student gets in the UK to learn and work in various presses and to visit and interact with the numerous world-class manufacturers throughout Europe.

Nikhil showed us the modern pre-press, pressroom, and post-press facilities that Sona has built up in what seems like a window to an even larger investment cycle. In the pre-press an Agfa CtP is in place and what is special about this is Nikhil ‘s interest in using Agfa’s Apogee RIP for implementing Sublima FM and hybrid screening technology. All colour work at Son a uses 240-line per inch output even on uncoated paper. Sona is developing a full CIP4-JDF workflow and currently uses an Epson ink jet proofer.

In the pressroom there is some serious brand-new heavy metal installed in November 2008. These include a 5- colour Roland 700 press and a 2-colour Roland 700 convertible perfector. Both presses are CIP4 driven and fully automated. The Roland 700 5-colour is also the first press installed in the country with a convertible fifth unit that can be used alternately as a print unit or as a coater. Sona primarily uses it at present as a flood-coating unit.

However, the most exciting piece of new equipment is in the bindery – the Heidelberg Eurobinder said to be the first of its kind in Asia.

According to Nikhil, this automated perfect binder can change formats for totally differing book products with five to seven minutes. While we were there, a very thick book was being assembled by first creating two book blocks that would subsequently be combined. The long conveyor was a sign of the quality that Sona is trying to achieve as a heavy duty supplier of printed books to its customers. All in all, it is always good fun to see a press successfully implementing new technology. The key of course is ownership. In a young technically educated and balanced person, one can see that change itself has an owner here.

We see Sona as a strong player in both commercial printing and book printing exports going forward.

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