“We want to democratize high-quality pre-press for packaging, because too many smaller brands think it’s only for the bigger players. We aim to make it available to every brand at a price-point that’s right for them. That will benefit everyone, elevating the industry through a better understanding of technology.”
Nikhil Puntambekar, director of Pune-based Nuflex Graphics, is expanding on the “sell on technology” principle adopted by the company since its formation in 2019. It’s a goal that every technology-based business aims for, and one that Nuflex is achieving, recording strong growth this year despite the challenging trading conditions created by a global pandemic.
Right technology, right partner
It helps having the right technology at the heart of the business — in Nuflex’s case, the KODAK FLEXCEL NX System, supplied and supported by Miraclon — and the right partner. Nuflex is part-owned by Mumbai-based Numex Blocks, which brings over 30 years’ experience in flexo packaging prepress to the partnership, and serves all packaging segments — narrow, mid- and wide-web. The company offers customers large and small the same proposition: a complete prepress solution, including press fingerprinting and trials as well as final plate imaging. “Smaller customers really welcome such an extensive package, because the smaller the business, the more support it needs to get to the next level,” says Puntambekar.
Fast turnaround and consistent quality
Nuflex’s offering has been shaped by Puntambekar’s in-depth understanding of local market conditions, and his strong links to the corrugated packaging sector. He identifies fast-turnaround delivery of FLEXCEL NX plates to customers as a major reason for Nuflex’s success, usually within 24 hours and often on the same day. “It’s becoming the norm,” says Puntambekar, “so it’s expected of us. Production runs are getting shorter as consumption patterns change. It helps that from the start we’ve been able to put robust production practices and disciplines in place.”
Just as important is the consistent quality of the plates. “FLEXCEL NX delivers the right densities and colors, and these hold true across the spectrum of the work we produce — labels, flexible packaging, pouches, shrink-sleeves and corrugated. Customers like the simplified workflow and problem-free printing at their end, so there’s value throughout the production chain.”
A further analysis of Nuflex’s performance shows that most growth is organic, encouraged by the quickening pace at which flexo is taking is gaining market share from other processes, gravure in particular. “This is apparent in every segment,” says Puntambekar, “but especially in flexible packaging.”
As an example, he cites a shrink sleeve product where the better halftone reproduction achieved with FLEXCEL NX DigiCap NX patterning technology won over a sceptical customer. “They doubted our claim that DigiCap NX meant a single hit of white instead of a double, but we achieved it with the same densities and visual results. White’s the most expensive pigment, so reducing consumption at the same time as speeding things up brings real value to the process.” He adds that consumer pressure for more sustainable packaging production is a further driver of process conversion.
Similar process conversion, this time from offset to flexo, is apparent in the corrugated segment, which Puntambekar regards as a good avenue for growth, helped by FLEXCEL NX’s ability to print 150lpi. “Liquor brands in particular are actively exploring conversion,” says Puntambekar, “and the nationwide ban on plastic bags imposed in 2019 means paper bags are a good opportunity. In some cases, we’ve converted customers from five colors to four colors using FLEXCEL NX.”
Predicting the future is difficult at the present time, but Puntambekar expects these trends to continue, and for circumstances to generate more inorganic growth. “We’re seeing production return to India from neighboring countries, and a move to localized manufacturing even within national borders.”