With over twenty year experience in the industry as printers, distributors and as manufacturers, Stratojet believes that it is best positioned to understand the needs of its customers. In a nutshell, Stratojet began production of its world-class print solutions in 2010. Built with the highest quality components, these solutions are designed from the ground up with serviceability in mind and continually strive to give our customers various benefits including the second to none, reliable and consistent print quality, reduced total cost of ownership, application support, and the unparalleled support & service.
The company has evolved developing reliable solutions ensuring its customer uptime, and it prides itself in delivering world-class printing solutions. It is passionate about providing the highest level of service to its customers. Taking all these claims, we met with the company’s directors duo – Sarabjit Singh and Sohil Singh to discuss its printing solutions in wide format, USP and market positioning, which the duo discussed with us at length. Edited excerpts are here to follow:
How did the journey begin at Stratojet?
It was in 1995 that we conceptualised the product and in 1996 we went live. Those were days when there was no digital printing in India. Computer was pouring in as Pentium versions were introduced by Microsoft while Apple was seemingly unidentified. So, for the first time I brought all those products from US. In those days, the product’s name was Laser Master, which was based out of Minnesota. I saw that printer in Photokina, Cologne in Germany. I liked the concept and brought a 3’ digital printer for my sampling purposes to India.
As you know, I was from a polymer industry and use to print things for lot of companies including Pharmaceuticals and Nestle. So to take out the final design, we use to make cylinders and then get them printed on Rotogravure/Flexographic. With introduction of Laser Master, it was made possible to have a print right away from a computer to the printer. One odd day, some Nestle Guy wanted me to print something for them. That’s how I evolved in to digital printing.
To master the art, I went to Minnesota, stayed with them for two months and learned all that needed for printers and printing files. I came back to India and started my work in 1996. I became distributors for them for India. In 1998, Laser Master changed its name to ColorSpan. It’s a very famous brand. We popularise that brand in India. We sold their printers all around. In that era, import was tough due to heavy duties. Even the components/warranty parts were coming from US and were charged with heavy customs. So, to avoid all that we started repairing those printers in India. Following this, we opened up various centres like in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, etc. to cater to our clients pan India, Middle East, Thailand, Singapore, and the surrounding countries.
What made you become manufacturer?
In 2007, HP took over ColorSpan and we ultimately became the distributor of HP. Till 2009 end, we were distributing HP printers. And then finally, an idea of becoming an entrepreneur hit our mind in 2010. Accordingly, we left HP distributorship and then we started on our own with a brand called Stratojet. The first printer from our brand was a 3.2m solvent printer. We then brought eco-solvent printer as variant in 3.2m with Ricoh Gen Printheads. We were the only one doing Ricoh Printheads in India.
We then participated in a Show in Chennai where somebody from Middle East from UAE came over. They bought few machines from us. This enhanced our confidence as we could sell internationally and when we saw that it’s doing well overseas, we went to England in 2013 and started business with England for Europe. In 2015, we started in US, which has been a great story for us as we emerged as one of the most renowned brands there. We are based out of Los Angeles. There we have a complete R&D team. Also, we have our head office, warehouse and an assembling unit there.
Which all printing solutions do you offer?
Stratojet USA manufactures a variety of flatbed printers and cutter to address different needs. We have Shark FBR is our fast and versatile UV curable printer, Shark EFB prints high quality 4’x8’ at a low entry price point, Piranha is the most productive and versatile dye sublimation printer in its class, Shark II UV is our grand format printer designed to print on flexible materials, Shark Cut is a 5’x 8’ flatbed cutter that cuts, Vcut and creases a wide variety of substrates up to 1” thick, and our low entry cost Shark E72s takes up to 72″ roll media.
What is the USP at Stratojet?
The entire software and hardware architecture is based on our mantra of simplicity. From quick loading and unloading to keeping a consistent colours print after print, Stratojet has designed printing solutions around the needs of the print operators. We look at heavy production environments and the number of steps needed to print accurately and consistently. To quick load a sheet on a flatbed printer, we use alignment pins; to quickly change a sheet, the software allows the user to print in reverse mode, hence saving time when reloading.
Any specific technology that you want us to highlight!
We, at Stratojet, incorporate Accurate Dot Placement Technology (ADP) with our printer software. ADP ensures smooth colour transitions and improved mid-tones. Traditional inkjet printers using stochastic technology overlap ink dots and increase the number of passes to make a high quality image. Stratojet’s ADP technology uses fewer passes with a smaller drop sizes. The ink drops are closer to each other, but do not overlap. The drop placement is so precise, that if the same print file was printed twice without moving the media, the ink drops will fall in exactly the same spot.
Do you also have any patented technology?
ZDep® Printed depth perception (3D), this option uses patented technology to print depth perception directly on to plain acrylics or glass. The system works combining Stratojet’s software, HW, inks and varnish. The specially prepared file is reversed printed and then a spot pattern of micro bubbles is printed on the front side of the substrate.
But let me clear one thing that ZDep is not at all lenticular printing, it is better than that. No need to buy expensive lenses, just get acrylic media. It is easier to set up and never worry about the pitch or alignment or expensive lamination. There is no text size restriction besides; it facilitates printing on any size up to 4’x8’ with consistent results. No restriction on viewing angle as the printed stuff can be viewed from any angle. Further, the depth perception effect can be seen from any angle, looking side to side or up and down. In short, Stratojet’s ZDep gives user a differentiating tool by enabling PSPs to print eye catching output.
Often there are calls for customised printing solutions. What Stratojet offers on this front?
There are customized options. Most platforms are built modular to offer you options that you can choose. For instance, the option of using White ink is particularly useful to print on rigid substrates that are not white, such as translucent substrates like glass or acrylic or any other coloured substrate. One can choose to overcoat, undercoat or spot white. For those who need to print white ink often, there is an option to double up on white; this means to add an entire channel to white ink and hence increase printing speed.
Also, should anyone choose the white ink option, he can reduce cost and ensure printhead performance with Stratojet’s exclusive on board flush system. This system allows user to temporarily disable the white ink, facilitating to print with colours while ensuring the printhead does not get damaged and does not continue to spit and waste ink. The moment the user needs the white ink back, it takes few seconds to bring it back and there is no additional calibration needed.
Why should one rely on Stratojet?
For our printers, we get the components from various places around the world. For instance, we get our pumps from KnF Switzerland, Motors from Delta & Panasonic, Track Rail from THK, Japan, etc. In short, we get best of the parts available from best of the companies/manufacturers so that the final products should be very well respected.
Since we had a mindset that we had to cater to the International markets especially USA, this makes us believe that using a cheap part and servicing it again would unnecessarily add to the cost for our customers. The aim is that this machine should help user make money without any hiccup of loosing his clients.
This is because we believe in a system that we have to do a product wherein our customer doesn’t need to bother. He must focuses on his own business rather than roving for repairing and maintaining printers. So, we try making and offering him a good quality product.
Despite offering such high quality products, how important is service & support at Stratojet?
We remain totally committed to our customers after selling our printing equipment, cutters or for tat matter any supplies. Our printing solutions are designed from the ground up with serviceability in mind. As I mentioned earlier, we understand how imperative it is for our customers that the printer is operating to full capacity all of the time. It is for this reason that we offer support over phone or online support. In case a technician needs to change a part, we have a network of trained technicians that can expedite the part change.
Where is your factory located? What is the current capacity?
Our assembling unit in India is in Bawana near Delhi where we have two premises of 750 sqm each. We can do 25 printers a month, which we can escalate to 40 based on the demand.
How many printers have you sold till date?
We have sold 150+ printers in US & Canada. In India, we have sold more than 85. These numbers are for UV only. If I include Solvent and Eco-Solvent, then this number would jump to 300+ overall.
Where do you position yourself as brand?
Of course, we are not like Durst, Canon, EFI, Mutex, HP, etc. But we are very close to Canon when it comes to quality. Price-wise, we are in the mid range segment. We are not at all competing against lower-end Chinese printers. We use better quality parts/components. We use Swiss motors Japanese rails, Panasonic drives, etc. All these products/components come with a warranty. Apart from that we are there for them with our exciting 24×7 helpline. Caldera RIP is free with our printers. We bundle top of the line RIP software from Caldera, which is unheard in India yet.
You are in the market for so long. How have you seen the market evolved?
We started with water-based inks, then we come to dye inks, then pigmented inks, solvent ink, aggressive solvent, eco-solvent inks, the comes latex followed by UV. UV has opened up lot more printing options taking it beyond signage and included anything and everything. For instance, I have customers in Mid West, part of United States where I have sold around 28 machines. They majorly print on wood, somebody prints on marble, somebody on doors made of uPVC, MDF, Wood, etc. They create walnut texture in white & other colours on UV. So, they have developed many applications. It shows that with UV the digital printing is not limited only to signage industry anymore.
Even if you see the iPhone edge black or screens of a laptop with black borders around, these are all UV-printed on a black colour to hide the LED so that the screen is lit. Samsung has numerous UV machines installed back there in their factory.
Do you also manufacture ink?
We do not manufacture Ink. But we sell it under our own name after getting it manufactured from France.