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"The biggest challenges facing the screen printing industry today," says Mistry, "is to inspire manual screen printers to go for automation since in India itself there several thousand screen printers. While even agriculture or a household kitchen has automatic systems, why should our screen printing industry not go for automation? Why they should pull the squeegee with straining muscles, and besides it delivers poor quality and low productivity. Another challenge is to remove the poor image of the screen printing industry which requires full automation and use of quality materials in the entire printing process."

Bhargav took over the reins of Grafica Flextronica from his late father, Dhirubhai Mistry, who founded the company in 1952. "In 1990, I took special training for three months in one of the largest companies manufacturing Printed Circuit Boards (PCB's) in Japan. Our company Grafica expanded its operations in 1989, entering into the manufacturing of high quality screen-printing machines and allied products. Following several weeks of training in graphic screen-printing, especially fine lines and halftones above 150 LPI at Graficaza in Paris under the guidance of Michel Caza in 2003, raised my confidence in printing halftone above 150 LPI by screen process, which directly helped in my institute and training."

Mistry undertook an initiative in launching a printing institute DMI (the Dhirubhai Mistry Institute For Print Education Research & Training) in Vasai (Mumbai) India. The institute provides free training to print technology students while workshops are conducted for print professionals (not limited to customers and not limited to screen printers!!). The institute, a dream of the current owner's late father, is patronised by Michel Caza, chairman of Academy of Screen Printing Technology (ASPT) and ex-president of FESPA, houses a library and lecture hall with a complete screen printing set up.

"In a short span of time," says Bhargav with pride, "DMI has become renowned the world over for its quality training, with our students winning several national and international awards. Every workshop conducted once in 45 days brings cherished moments in my life as an educationist, because we are able to bring change in the screen printing industry and open new opportunities and above all DMI is the world's only professional institute providing free education in advanced screen printing."

Talking about the potential of the screen-printing industry in the Middle East, Mistry opines, "The UAE market, though small compared to India, can cater to other nearby countries such as Africa and India can provide economical technological solution just like Grafica the one offers. UAE can be a printing hub for African countries. From the kind of response that we received during three exhibitions in Dubai in just one year, one thing is clear to me that there is urge for automation in screen printing and the 'value addition' concept through print finishing which is fast catching up in India, will also spread to Gulf countries very soon." Grafica has appointed Sharjah-based Al Mahir as their distributors for the Middle East region.

On the subject of the changes he has seen in the printing industry, the cricket enthusiast explains, "The GenNext printing professionals are now orienting towards multi-technology solutions where you have all kinds of printing set up from offset, screen, digital etc. Value addition is the buzz word and this is going to rock the graphics and packaging printing."

The manufacturer has launched new products this year including the Nano-Print plus, Nano-Print, Nano-Screen Maker 5-in-1, Nano-Sharpener (which has been well received in the UAE) and the innovatively code-named Nano Premier League (NPL) with 11 'players' covering the entire gamut of screen printing process (screen making to print to print finish).

Dwelling at length on the real or perceived threat of digital to the screen printing industry the veteran concludes, "Except with graphics/commercial printing, screen printing is strong in textile/garment printing, industrial segment etc. Interestingly, we have many customers who have switched over to screen from digital or have both for strategic operations. Digital involves big investment which is still a budgetary constraint with small and medium screen printers. Yes, digital will threaten but in my opinion screen will firmly stand in the market for many more years as every printing process has its own advantages and disadvantages and a respective role to play in printing industry as a whole. Despite digital age, we are growing and going strong. Screen has its own market, digital has its own market, offset has its own market. Screen being versatile can cater to a lot of new upcoming applications and market segments."

Mistry's advice to screen Printers
  • Go for automation
  • Save energy, reduce wastage
  • Save cost of operations
  • Do not compromise on quality
  • Do not indulge in price wars
  • Think before act (print!)
  • Upgrade knowledge during slowdowns and invest that time judiciously in learning new technology