SignTronic has been developing advanced technological equipment for the signs and screenprinting industry since 1980. Today, the company is focused on prepress technology for screen-printing and offset printing. SignTronic AG designs and manufactures the StencilMaster systems in Switzerland, an area which is known the world over for high quality, precision and efficiency in the production of mechanics, electronics and optics. The company has been at the forefront of the industry for more than 20 years, with innovative and highly advanced technological solutions. The company sometime back entered India market and appointed Spoorthi Technologies as its agent. To know more about the company and its further plans for India market, Knitting Views Editor Arvind Kumar, recently met and interviewed Andre Loffel, Technical Sales Manager, SignTronic AG during his visit to Tirupur.
Please tell us about SignTronic and its services?
We are a company located in Switzerland and also partner with company Grunig. We offer complete solution for pre-press process in sceen printing that means screen making, stretching, coating and washing. CTS direct exposing technology and screen automation technology enables fully automatic inline coating, exposing, developing and drying.
Our CTS technology has UV light and have very high precision screen for printing. The advantage of this technology is you don’t need the film, ink or wax. You don’t have all those headaches. So, with this technology we can give customers highest quality of screen precision for printing. At the end of the day they can also reach high quality printed T-shirt. To get good printing result, you should have perfect screen.
Please tell us about your Competence Center for Screen Preparation?
We have prepared our own showroom containing all the relevant equipment for testing, demonstration and training purposes. In co-operation with our customers and partners, we discuss the state-of-the-art screen making procedures, elaborate customized solutions and prepare screens for printing tests according to our customers’ demands and specifications. Our premises include a fully equipped training room and test lab for demonstrations. Application engineering and customer testing are possibly anytime. On the premises of SignTronic in Switzerland, the latest CTS equipment with both resolutions 1270 dpi and 2400 dip are available for inspection, demonstration and testing.
How long you’ve been selling to India?
We started couple of months back with Spoorthi Technologies, and are proud to work with Ramesh Ganduri because he is a good person. He knows the Indian textile market, and has performed very well with ROQ screen printing machine in India. This is one of the best decisions for us as he is really active, powerful, and present everywhere, so we can follow him with our technology. You need strong local partner to reach out customers as India is a big country. For sure we will have successful partnership in this area.
So, now we are trying hard to enter into the Indian market. India needs to invest in this technology to improve the quality of printing. If they don’t use this high technology slowly they will lag behind in the global market for exports. Most of the buyers are asking for high quality and sustainable production.
This industry requires a lot of fresh water. But we can develop a system where we can reduce fresh water upto 90 percent because we have filtering system and have recycling system also. Only last washing step is done with fresh water. Sustainability is the global demand, and we already have several machines running in China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Vietnam.
How has been your experience of working with India?
This is my first time in India, and I met many big customers. I realise that people are very interested in this new technology. They need to learn more about this technology but if one customer decides to invest in this technology others will follow it. Spoorthi Technology is having a good technical team in the backside to support and make customers aware of the benefits of these technologies. I am sure with Spoorthi’s support we will get good business in future.
What edge does SignTronic have over other players in this segment
The company has been at the forefront of the industry for more than 20 years, with innovative and highly advanced technological solutions. We have been dedicated to developing new technologies in order to offer customers, comprehensive overall solutions for your screen processes on a worldwide level. Regardless of the StencilMaster from SignTronic that you opt for, we can guarantee in any case that our Computer-to-Screen technology results in an optimal direct exposure in reproducible quality, which considerably simplifies screen making.
For screen making we have horizontal exposure process we can go from both the directions but other company who have process from top to down. So, we are little bit fast in this process, which is surely an advantage. Other advantage is that our optical head is moving on air bearings, which is very smooth and you don’t have much maintenance work after machine installation. Smooth work sequences and automation will considerably lower your present costs. Essential is, that all involved departments – ArtWort/RIP, screen making and print room – work hand in hand.
How do justify the price as it being an imported product? We are a Swiss Company and little bit more expensive, but our technology has many advantages and unique features. We have many customers using our machines for over 10 years so it’s a long lasting product. There are many customers using 8-10 SignTronic machine altogether at their plants. So, if you need quality and outputs we can justify our prices, hence are able to maintain our position in the world market for last 20 years.
Which is the biggest market for you?
For us biggest market is Europe because for our solutions we can cut some working steps. Because salary in Europe is higher than Asia so decision making is much easier for customers and return on investment is also short because of the higher salary. For last three-four years we are growing in Asia. We have customers in Vietnam, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and they have been using this machine successfully. Even for a company investing in this technology whether it has 10,000 printing heads or two hundred heads, the return on investment is very fast.
Is direct to garment printing impacting your business?
Yes, especially in graphics industry. If the output is not in high quantity than screen printing is expensive. For that we don’t have to close our eyes, this is a fact. Ink is more expensive in digital printing. In last five years screen printing is coming back because of the quality. It gives high quality because we have high resolution in exposed theme. For small quantity and fast sampling digital is more convenient and cost effective.
Do you have any installation in India?
We have just started our journey and believe with Ramesh Gandhuri’s support we will very soon find customers and all the solutions also. We have to make customers aware of our existence here then only we can earn. Customers listen to us and they are very much interested in this technology. You have to make them aware about your offerings, our technology has really opened their eyes so we will wait and see what happens after the exhibition.
How do you see scope of Indian market especially in this segment?
India is second largest textile hub after China. Tirupur is one of the major centers for knitwear exports. There are many factories looking to improve quality of the prints. Customers have been appreciating our technologies, along with willingness to buy it. They have the potential to invest but I guess Indian people think twice before making any decision. We also had some Indian customers in Switzerland, they visited our factory to see how we work, what is behind the technology. We are late to enter this market but I feel we should be getting good business in future. So, we are very positive.
How do you see the future?
We believe in the future of screen printing – a technology that offers countless possibilities and advantages compared to the other printing procedures. And we are convinced that the key factor for your future success is “the perfect screen”. Moreover, the textile market is growing nowadays. Normally we believe that a T-shirt is washed 20 times but today lots of printers tell me that we print a T-shirt just for 5 washes, so if we compare we need fourfive times more T-shirt in global market. So, this market is still growing. People want more of knits as demand for casual wear is growing. Fashion is changing faster so you have to buy accordingly. There are only two ways of adding value to T-shirt i.e. printing or embroidery. After seeing the advantages of the technology and process, customers will go for these technologies. There is always a market segment which goes for quality and with growing labour cost our technology has good future.
How much is the share of textiles in your overall business?
The term textile printing refers to printing procedures used for printing textiles, a process which is considerably more complex than paper printing, as the various print support (Cotton, polyester, silk, etc.) require particular ink and forms of treatment. Out of our total business 30 percent is of textiles. We are also active in automotive, and call it industrial screen printing. We have other segments also.
What is your message to the consumers?
We believe in the future of screen printing – a technology procedure. And we are convinced that the key factor for your future success is the perfect screen. This involves two indispensable steps: CTS technology and automation. For quite some years already, we have been dedicated to developing new technologies in order to offer you comprehensive overall solution for your screen processes on a worldwide level. We are looking forward to the future challenges and are eager to implement many sophisticated and interesting projects together with you.
For our customers as well as our company, the constant change and the necessity to optimize the processes, lower the costs and improve the quality mean that we have to search for new solutions. Today, screens must be manufactured in a reproducible, cost-efficiently and optimal quality manner. Only then, you will be able to perform better than your competitors.