Friday, April 12, 2024

BIS-LPA seminar sparks dialogue on printing machinery

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The Bureau of Indian Standards, in collaboration with the Lucknow Printers’ Association, organized a technical session titled ‘National Seminar On Printing Machinery – Emerging Issues; on 2 March 2024, at Hotel Galaxy, Lucknow. This marked the first occurrence of a technical session by BIS in Lucknow. The session featured distinguished speakers including Dattatraya Kute, chairman of MED 25 at BIS, who discussed BIS and its activities; Lokraj Meena, scientist B & assistant director of MED and member secretary of MED 25 at BIS, who elaborated on Indian standards in printing machinery; and Ashutosh Tripathi, principal research engineer at the Centre for Flexible Electronics, IIT Kanpur, who addressed the topic ‘From Convergence to Creation.’

The session was moderated by Harjinder Singh, sectional committee member of MED 25, chairman of education and training at AIFMP, and general secretary of LPA. Haroon Nomani, VP of LPA, commenced the session with his welcoming remarks. Duttatraya Kute, the first speaker of the session, delivered a presentation on the structure and activities of BIS. He discussed the formation and functioning of BIS, which originated as the Indian Standards Institution (ISI) on 6 January 1947, and later evolved into the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on 1 April 1987.

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Kute highlighted that BIS is also a founding member of ISO and actively contributes to the preparation of ISO standards. He explained the process of standardization and dissemination to industries and users, emphasizing BIS’s crucial role in empowering consumers to purchase and utilize quality products certified by BIS for safety and quality. Kute provided various examples to illustrate the significance of BIS, such as the hallmarking of gold articles/jewelry and distinguishing between bottled drinking water and mineral water. He also mentioned that BIS conducts regular training on standards and processes, with the National Institute for Training for Standardization (NITS) responsible for training sectional committee members on standard preparation and writing procedures.

Following Duttatraya Kute, Lokraj Meena took the floor and provided an overview of the MED 25 sectional committee, which focuses on drafting standards for printing machinery, pre-press, and post-press equipment. He outlined the committee’s scope, which encompasses formulating standards covering terminology, dimensions, performance, maintenance, and safety requirements for printing machinery and its components.

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Meena elucidated the process of standard preparation and emphasized their utility for printers. He stressed the importance of considering factors such as target users, health, safety, and applicability to Indian conditions during standardization. Despite this, efforts are made to align the standards with international benchmarks while catering to Indian requirements and users’ needs.

Several examples were provided to printers, illustrating recently prepared standards such as those for rubber rollers of offset presses and CTP plates. Meena also discussed standards currently in the process of formulation, such as those for offset press installation and inspection.

Meena informed the audience about both mandatory and non-mandatory standards. Mandatory standards, such as those for hallmarking jewelry and bottled drinking water, must be complied with, while non-mandatory standards are at the discretion of the industry or user. Additionally, he mentioned the mandatory requirement for the sectional committee to review and renew standards every five years to ensure they remain up-to-date with the latest requirements and international standards.

Ashutosh Tripathi, from National Centre for Flexible Electronics at IIT Kanpur, delivered a presentation on the emerging trends in flexible and printed electronics. He emphasized the significance of proactive engagement from the Indian print and packaging industry in this evolving field. The audience responded positively to his talk, indicating an encouraging interest from the print industry in India to explore and engage with emerging technologies like printed electronics.

Printed electronics is essentially what its name suggests: the printing of electronics. While we are familiar with traditional electronics such as solar panels, displays, LEDs, capacitors, ICs, and sensors, the conventional manufacturing process for electronics is capital-intensive due to material and process limitations. Additionally, much of this technology is proprietary and not readily available in India, leading to minimal component-level manufacturing of key electronic products within the country.

On the other hand, printed electronics offer a more cost-effective alternative, requiring relatively smaller capital expenditure. In an ideal scenario, one could envision a printing press that utilizes electronic inks – inks with semiconductors, resistors, capacitors, and other electronic properties – using conventional printing techniques to produce electronic components instead of purely graphical outputs.

Throughout the 20th century, Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) emerged as a common technology. However, this process relied on cutting or etching free-standing or laminated metal sheets, primarily copper, in a desired pattern to create a circuit. PCBs stood as the sole commercial printed electronics product for much of the 20th century.

Print technologies, specialty chemicals, and functional inks form the cornerstone of the ecosystem necessary for printed electronics. India is one of the leading nations when it comes to chemicals and print industries. However, it is noteworthy that various functional inks are synthesized and formulated in India under contract manufacturing agreements for foreign companies. Despite its leadership in printing and chemicals, India’s share of the global printed and flexible electronics market remains relatively small, at approximately 1%.

Given India’s strength in these industries, it is fitting that the nation should aspire to be a leading player in the field of Printed Electronics as well. With its robust infrastructure and expertise, India has the potential to significantly expand its presence in this rapidly evolving sector.

Moving forward requires forward-thinking strategies and investments in research and development. It’s crucial to not only generate cutting-edge ideas but also to translate them into commercially viable products. Bridging the gap between academia and industry is paramount for achieving this goal. In the developed world, there exists a strong synergy between academic and industrial ecosystems, which propels them ahead in the technology race. India is also witnessing a shift in this regard, with the government establishing several centers of excellence aimed at fostering indigenous manufacturing of advanced products.

One such initiative is the establishment of the National Centre for Flexible Electronics at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in 2014. The center is tasked with conducting translational research and development in the field of printed electronics, in collaboration with industry partners. Equipped with state-of-the-art printing infrastructure and skilled manpower, the center supports the industry in conducting research and developing prototypes that can later be scaled up by industry partners. This initiative reflects India’s commitment to fostering innovation and technological advancement in the field of printed electronics.

Manash Das
Manash Das
Manash Das is associate editor at The Packman. He has been contributing editorially to The Packman since 2016.

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