Home > DMI Workshop, Links, printing technology, screen printing, UV Inks > Strengths Weakness Opportunities And Threats in Screen Printing

Strengths Weakness Opportunities And Threats in Screen Printing

“With advancement taking place at all levels, screen printing has evolved as indispensable and a ‘versatile’ printing process”

I would like to pen down some of my recent thoughts about screen printing in the form of a quick SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of Indian screen printing industry scenario.

STRENGTHS:

Automation and UV technology – One of our valued customers who had 15 manual tables has now as many as 7 semi automatic screen printing machines. There are many screen printers whose business has doubled or tripled over the years ever since they switched over to automation along with UV. So, semi automatic and fully automatic screen printing machines are now making inroads into Indian screen printing industry in a big way.

In the last decade, from a predominantly manual printing process there has been a big shift from manual operations to semi-automatic and now fully automatic printing machines. Going by my own company’s sales performance, there has been steep increase in the number of screen printing machines (and UV curing machines) sold in the last couple of years than it was five to ten years ago. Also, a noteworthy transformation is that there has been quantum leap in the number of visitors to our pavilions at various printing industry exhibitions than it was 5-10 years ago.

That’s because screen printing not only involves low investment which is a big advantage for those wanting to join the screen printing business, but also there has been widespread applications of this versatile process and greater awareness about the immense benefits of and need for automation.

“Quality” improvement: Quality in screen printing seems to have come a long way. Today, with automatic precision machines, it is possible to get a result that years ago would have been a dream. Let the world believe that the screen printing process today is faster, better and cleaner.

New trend – combination of processes: There has been a growing trend of offset printers/packaging companies setting up inhouse screen printing unit instead of outsourcing. There are many digital printers who have set up screen printing units to meet the market demand for ‘total print solution’. Screen Printing is the perfect complement to offset and it works in tandem to help generate more business.

WEAKNESSES

Education – lack of knowledge!

I would say knowledge is the key to success to any business. What’s the use if screen printers have fully automatic screen printing line without having a proper knowledge?

In screen printing industry there is not only lack of ‘knowledge’ but also lack of ‘knowers of knowledge’. Inspire of this drawback, over the years, bravo, our screen printers have made drastic improvements due to their sheer hard work and inclination to learn from self help, by reading technical articles, attending exhibitions, seminars etc.

I think the technical education think tanks in India should really make an immediate analysis of the printing education offered in various institutes which is MINUS “advanced screen printing”, they touch upon only some basics and outdated elements of screen printing… very sad especially when the Indian screen printing is adopting automation in a big way and the need for trained screen printing professionals is shooting up. In the recent past, there has been a growing trend of offset printers embracing screen printing, whereas the printing institutes emphasizes more on offset and other printing technology.

On my part, I am determined to take screen printing education to a greater height through my own institute DMI. I am receiving tremendous response from the industry. What was started as workshops with 8-10 participants today our workshops are always houseful with long queue of waitlisted knowledge seekers.

I had produced and screened a video film ‘Screen on Screen’ in 15 cities few years ago. Following this success, we followed it up with yet another round of all India campaigns (ten) whereby we took our entire Nano Premier League package to show the screen printing process live to printers.

I fully agree with Mr Narendra P of Pragati Press, Hyderabad who recently said that the old mindset ‘screen printing business can easily be started with an investment as low as Rs. 500-1000 to print visiting cards, letterheads, etc, has to change now. That’s because technological development in screen printing has moved much ahead of this thinking. I strongly also agree with his view point that in screen printing every step is a ‘science’. So without learning this ‘science’ nothing can be printed qualitatively. By learning new techniques we can assimilate it in our daily practice.

OPPORUTNITIES:

Applications, unlimited: Screen-printing is a fantastic technology that is used by many industries with so many old, new and not yet discovered applications – both flat (plastics, cloth, metal, thin to thick papers, sunpack/sunboard, rubber, leather, wood, glass, footwears, PCBs, ceramics, etc) and non-flat substrates, by using appropriate machinery and inks. Further, this process is also widely used in packaging, labels, Smart-cards – the list of screen printing application is endless.

Growing trend – Value addition through various UV Special effect inks/varnishes: What was started as Spot UV – matt and gloss – today with the availability of various UV special effects, screen printers have now great chance to excite consumers. The range and variety of effect is extensive and it provides the marketer, print buyer and designer with a number of exciting possibilities.

Use of non-paper Substrates: Continuous advancements and developments in polymer technology, expertise and cost-effective manufacturing, plastic substrates are replacing traditional materials in many fields (environmental conditions apply!). These include : PVC, Polypropylene, HIPS, Lenticular Films, Polycarbonate etc. Polypropylene Sheets are extensively used for blister packaging, cardboard boxes etc. Polypropylene finds application in Disposable Containers, Embossing, Gift Box Making out of clear sheets, Freight Packaging, etc. PVC Sheets and Polypropylene Sheets are the best suited for screen printing. Polypropylene is also preferred by screen printers because of its low density and very economical cost. Similarly, PVC is also widely used by screen printers.

Great shift – Indian screen printers: I still recall what Michel Caza, an international screen printing expert said at the FESPA Munich 2010 Workshop titled “The Future of Screen Printing Goes Through Innovation — A comparison between Western and Asian Countries.” He was of the view that “Graphics and signage are only 20% of screen applications where as 35% lies in textile printing and about 45% in industrial applications.” This clearly sums up the potentials and future of screen printing process.

Screen printers should now take the call: During the presentation at FESPA Munich show, which was focused on the “how European countries are moving towards screen and how in Indian screen printing is moving with the latest trend,” Michel had also mentioned that because of industrial production getting shifted to Asian countries, screen printing is also getting more and more attention in this (Asian) region and that is the advantage for screen printers who are into industrial screen printing such as PCB, membrane switches, etc.

Moreover, even Mike Young’s presentation on “Emerging Technologies” proves that screen printing has a promising future. He sees a great future provided the screen printers in India remove all bottlenecks the major being “clean-room environment in the screen making and printing setup.” That’s because he saw hard working and sincere efforts by Indian screen printers to achieve quality through high level of automation. Mike was also quite optimistic about Indian screen printers. He says that Indian screen printers can face the challenges ahead with determination, enthusiasm, passion and courage.

Participation in Awards competitions – great opportunity to printers:

I have been witnessing a growing number of entries and award winners in two major international competitions – SGIA/ FESPA sponsored besides national competitions such as Screen Print India Award and SPAI-FESPA India and PrintWeek India competitions. That’s not only good but a healthy sign, because ultimately it increases appetite for quality improvement on various counts – Complexity, Image definition, precision and sharpness; Colour appearance, Application of use, Creativity, etc.

Still majority of the printers still hesitate to participate in these competitions due to many reasons.

THREATS:

a) Manual screen printing. If our screen printers are catering to industrial printing they should immediately dump manual screen printing tables as there are strict quality and delivery requirements in industrial segment. I have numerous screen printers who have switched over to automation due to all the side effects of manual screen printing – it is tedious, laborious, time consuming, wastage-ridden. I was told by many international experts that India lags behind several decades in screen printing but it is not too late.

b) Use of poor quality raw materials.

c) Use of Out-dated methods: Wooden frames, nylon white fabric instead of polyester yellow fabric, lack of standardisation in screen making although it is well known fact that screen is the heart of printing.

d) Using solvent although UV available for many applications.

Perhaps due to these reasons there is a growing trend in India that more and more OEMs are now setting up their own screen printing units. For example: Tiles and Ceramic industry, electronic industry, leather industry, garment industry, packaging and offset industry and many more. In these areas they used to earlier outsource their requirement.

Conclusion:

Screen printing process evolved over the years. Today, it offers ample innovation & creativity, thus playing a major role in printing industry because of the availability of advanced screen printing machines, UV technology coupled with availability of innovative special effects inks.

Screen printing is now quicker, cheaper, produces better quality images and offers a number of special applications. But advanced screen printing with high level of automation is not everybody’s cup of tea. Having advanced machines in place is not sufficient to run a profitable screen printing business. There is no profit from the press of a button like an ATM card. There is no short cut. Because not only does the set-up process take considerably longer than other techniques, but being able to truly master printing high quality images using the screen printing process also takes much longer, because there are a number of variables involved.

Today, there exist different systems designed to help the screen printers to achieve better result. But it revolves around the simple concept or standardisation of the entire screen printing process.

The comment made by Prof. Dr. Rajendra Kumar Anayath, Print Media Academy, Chennai – a Heidelberg Initiative during his visit to our stall at Print Pack 2011 New Delhi, is significant: “Bhargav, screen printing today is not what it was 6-7 years ago. With the kind of experiments that you are making at your DMI, it appears to me that it has emerged as a printing process to be reckoned with.”

Bye friends and have a great week…

Bhargav

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  1. August 10, 2011 at 11:39 am

    DEAR BARGAV,
    I AM HAPPY THAT THE SCREENPRINT INDUSTRY HAS NOW REACHING THE HEIGHTS THAT WE IN THE UK ENJOYED SOME YEARS AGO . UNFORTUNATELY THE SCREENPRINT INDUSTRY IS IN DECLINE NOW DUE TO DIGITAL AND LITHO , WITH MANY SCREENPRINT COMPANIES NO LONGER IN BUSINESS AND THE ONLY COMPANIES WITH A SMALL AMOUNT OF GROWTH ARE SPECIALIST INDUSTRIAL MARKETS.
    WE HAVE SEEN MOST SCREENPRINT COMPANIES GO FROM SINGLE COLOUR MACHINES TO LARGE FORMAT MULTI COLOUR MACHINES AND ALL DO VERY WELL BUT UNFORTUNATELY THE BUBBLE HAS BURST AND ALMOST ALL MEDIUM TO LARGE COMPANIES HAVE REPLACED ALL MACHINES WITH EXPENSIVE DIGITAL MACHINES AND LITHO MACHINES, LEAVING MOST SUPPLIERS WHO HAVE GROWN UP IN SCREENPRINT STRUGGLING TO SERVIVE.
    SO I SAY TAKE THE GOOD TIMES WHILE YOU CAN ,BECAUSE UNFORTUNATELY THE DIGITAL AND LITHO AGE WILL CATCH YOU UP.

    REGARDS

    Like

    • August 13, 2011 at 9:06 am

      Hi Paul,

      The reply received from Michel Caza, Ex-President of Fespa and Ex-Chairman of ASPT have replied on your comment which I hope will clear your doubts about Screen Printing.

      Regards,

      Bhargav

      Like

  2. Kamlakar R. Wadekar
    August 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    You are a god sent man to take screen printing process and industry ahead. Keep it up, god bless you.
    Kamlakar

    Like

  3. Abhiram अभिराम Madhukar Sathe
    August 11, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Dear Mr. Bhargav,
    After spending very small time in screen printing industry; i found this process to be very interesting and felt then a great need for quality training. I think you have taken a major stance in the area. Please keep up with more articles and information. I wish you all the success. Best regards

    Abhiram Sathe

    Like

  4. August 11, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Dear Sir,

    Amazing SWOT analysis and this will really help our screen printing community. We should always share our thoughts so that our community grow day by day

    Regards
    Rohit Bansal

    Like

  5. michel Caza
    August 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I don’t know who exactly is this « PAUL », but I am not surprised of his pessimistic analyse, absolutely current and classic in Europe and USA from the so-called specialists who totally ignore what exactly is now screen printing !
    He simply sees noon at his door only which means that he must be more involved in the graphic field and that he don’t’ know on one hand that graphic screen printing is only 20% of the applications of this technology – 35% is in the huge business of textile printing and 45% lies in the purely industrial applications – and on the other hand that it exists, this is also true in the UK, a « two speeds » screen (and digital) printing !

    What does this exactly means ?
    One, let us be clear, in the huge and perpetually growing field of screen printing technology applications (screen printing has never been an « industry », but a technology used by many industries), if we consider textile printing for example, when you speak of DOG (direct on garment in digital), the very big companies’ managers in the world simply laugh when you ask them if they intend to replace screen by digital ! Too slow, too expensive, only for a special customized market in small quantities where you have to build a new way of selling and marketing through the web for example… But nothing valuable to print the huge orders in the world of TS and sportswear’s.

    Industry ? this means that screen printing is used in glass (bottles and flat) and ceramic printing, in metal work, in automotive, in packaging, in electronic applications giant markets for PCB rigid or supple, membrane switches, the so promising RFIDs, the solar cells – thick or thin coats, the IMD, the medical applications, the food and drugs market, and so on !
    So far and still for a long time the digital printing technology cannot take care of those applications, except for some small quantities dedicated to very restricted niche markets…. This is not the frame to enter in technical details, but I could write a lot about how to manage with both these problems and the digital technology !

    Even if we take the graphic and sign applications, AD and so on, there are a lot of special effects – Grafica and DMI promote those applications – which are absolutely impossible to obtain in offset and digital printing : the improvement of printed images in the POP goes through screen printing. In the packaging field as well the customer absolutely don’t care of what is the technology used : he simply wants something to improve or promote his sales… So far and for a long time screen-printing is the only possible answer to obtain exciting special effects !

    We live – Indians included as well as the peoples from the other “BRIC” countries – in a world where we have, on one hand the “very big players” – here you are right my dear Paul – the companies able to offer at the national and international scale a “full service” to their customers.
    There a few in each European countries and in the US… Full service : they use offset, digital, screen printing, even flexo and pad printing technologies, according to the quantities, substrates, needed by the customer. This includes all types of finishing, mounting, packaging, dispatching and local delivery in many countries…. I know what I am speaking about as my own company did that job – POP manufacturers – until I sold it 7 years ago… And we were using screen as well as offset or digital according to what was really needed… We chose, not the customer !
    Sorry for this maybe too long answer, but I cannot accept the negative opinion of peoples who only have a very restricted and narrow sight of a technology… What seems to happen to graphic screen printing is beginning to happen to digital printing in Europe and USA, simply because on one hand the market is saturated and not extendable, and then because many users begin to consider that digital is far from being the dreamed panacea both in term of costs, productivity and quality !

    On the other hand, of course in India, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Brazil, Mexico, and also in Europe there are hundreds thousand of screen printers, small or very small, the “village printers” or “family business” that Grafica helps to leave the old (and dirty technology in term of environmental protection and sustainability, etc.).
    “The screen printing manual process with solvent inks” is changing to become an automated printing using the UV technology, even for the very small company with a feeble power of investment ! Thanks Bhargav !
    The Nano technology of Grafica is, as I use to say, representing the 3 C : “Cleaver, Clean and Cheap” ! And a blessing for the small image makers as well from Asia as from any other country in the world !
    And I intend to promote and develop it in Europe… Because I believe there are a lot of possibilities in our “two speeds technology”, despite the laudators or praisers of “digital only” instead of screen printing !

    We are not near to forget about screen printing !

    My two cents !

    Michel Caza

    Like

  6. August 13, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Dear Michel

    Thanks for your thought provoking comments. You are absolutely right. Believe me there are many screen printers (some big size companies) who have both wide format screen and digital and some also have offset or take the job from customers and get it executed so that their customers need not have too many printing service providers as their vendors. Also some digital companies either stopped digital and have gone for wide format screen as I have met some of them. Recently in Chennai one digital printer who already has 4 super wide format machines from big brands repenting having invested in a 5th machine which is lying idle (without opening the packing) as after machine arrived in his city hoardings were banned and currently his other machines are taking the load hence the 5th one is lying idle. Also he says he is fed up of stereo type as there is no room for creativity (he is a young entrepreneur ) and asked me what are the possibilities screen printing (as their sister concern has already a wide format screen printing machine for printing POP/POS and other promotional products.

    In another case, a lady entrepreneur who rushed to Grafica’s stall at the tail end of Print Expo exhibition in Chennai revealed (after seeing DMI’s creative sample gallery with innovative print finishing) that she made a wrong investment on a digital press since he did know the creative side of screen printing process and she said had she knew about all these she would have rather invested in a flat bed screen printing line with UV.

    I think these facts are clearly showing the STRENGTHS and OPPORTUNITIES in screen printing while the printers also need to take care of WEAKNESSES and THREATS and reduce their impact and move forward in their screen printing business with dual concept: technology and education (education also covers creativity and innovation).

    Thanks once again Michel for all your regular dose of knowledge and inspiration. We surely need more and more screen masters to guide the industry.

    Shripad

    Like

  7. mustafa
    August 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    it is really heart warming to see the replies. i definetly feel that screen printing has gone from 0 to 10 in indian printing industry.this can be attributed to availability of machines and uv inks. Still lot of work needs to be done in future and i am very excited about it.

    Like

  8. August 24, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    It is a really best explanation from Mr. Caza. It’s very true that Digital is never overtake the Screen printing industry. Grafica’s NANO is the starter of the Automation in Indian Screen Printing against Manual screen printing so buy it, feel it and enjoy it…

    Like

  9. Babu Varghese
    August 29, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Hello Sir,
    My name is Babu,I worked for you in 1993 time, do you remember me?. I am very happy about the business going well, Now I am in England, If I am of any help please contact me
    Regards
    Babu

    Like

    • September 3, 2011 at 7:17 am

      Yes I remember you very well. Sure I will let you know if required.

      Like

  10. sri
    September 4, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    nice its really gud

    Like

  11. Lakshmikant Salecha
    October 25, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Thanks for opening up my mind for the opportunities available. I think their is enough room for screen printing industry to prosper. What we need is knowledge & training.

    Like

  12. manish k
    November 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    screen print is there to stay.

    Like

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