Addicted to innovations
At the end of the summer we are visiting the biggest printing house in Lovech, Bulgaria. It carries the colourful name DAGA (rainbow in Bulgarian). We are provoked from the latest investment of the company – a printing machine from the Japanese manufacturer Miyakoshi. We remind you that it was only four years ago when the company became the first in Bulgaria to invest in a roll printing machine for labels. More about its addiction to innovation we learned from its manager Nikolay Dimitrov.
– Mr. Dimitrov, you have been in the printing field for 18 years. However, could you tell us in a few words more about the activity of Printing House Daga?
The history of Printing House Daga began in 1997 with the foundation of a small family company. At first we started with a design and prepress studio for advertising materials. Our customers grew in number and we had to find a way to print the designed products. Following the natural order of circumstances in 2002 we decided to invest in direct printing of the products in order to control the quality and to improve the production process. We began with the construction of a new building. At that time we needed more than one machine for the different production stages. Another problem was that our labels stuck to one another before they were applied to the final product. We maintained professional contacts with companies from Russia, Poland and others. Our business slowly took up and it was more than clear that we were heading to the right direction – we had to print labels, instead of advertising illustrations/materials. The other companies had already bought the necessary print equipment for self-adhesive labels. These labels in particular have many advantages – shorter production time, various form and size, no preliminary expenses and easier usage of the final product. So we arrived at the conclusion that we needed to make a more serious investment – I had doubts regarding which technology was better/flexo, digital or offset print/. The first one was clearly unsuitable for alcohol labels while the second was widely used and we wouldn’t be able to stand out. That’s the reason why we decided to offer technology for short print runs, which at the time was to be found only abroad. No one in Bulgaria had such a new and modern technology till this time.
We developed a project for financial aid which enabled us to buy a digital roll machine for labels. Our project was approved and we received 65% grant for/of the price. The granted money was extremely important as our funds would be insufficient. We chose a machine produced by the Belgian manufacturer Xeikon. A few years later we already had many customers form Italy, Greece, Poland, Austria and Germany. We created a marketing team. Thanks to our professionals we basically sign a new customer every week. In 2007 the construction of our new building was finished. It is designed to function as a printing house and includes an opportunity for future expansion. The building in which we are now, the production unit with machines for sheet and roll print, for finishing processes, the warehouse as well as the headquarters occupy an area of 1,800 square meters. The export premises are big enough and apart from the occupied area we have some more space to build on. When it comes to our production line, we produce mainly alcohol labels, especially winery ones. These are the most interesting, despite being so sophisticated. Their production is divided into several stages as the different layers require different settings and equipment. Because of the numerous orders we had to make sure that we could cope with the workload even during a time of a malfunction of the printing equipment. We decided to invest in another machine. We chose a six colour offset roll machine for labels produced by Miyakoshi. We negotiated the terms of the deal for a year with the local representative of Miyakoshi, Mihail Iliev from Misto-90.
– Why did you chose this machine?
I had already seen it several times on various demonstrations and was aware of its advantages. First of all, it give the opportunity to use print medias with the biggest width – 350mm, and the biggest step – 355,6 mm. What’s more, it is the fastest one and comes from Japan. The advantages in question get it extremely close to the flexo machines and the print quality is incomparably great. It has turned out to be a good investment as we take and finish orders for many customers. In combination with the digital technology we could print from the shortest to the longest run.
– It a well known fact that the offset technology requires a great deal of settings, which leads to 150-200 meters of maculature. Isn’t that making the print even more expensive?
In a way the quantity of maculature depends on the professional expertise of the print specialists – how fast they overcome the occurring difficulties. So far they have proven to be great specialists and the maculature is no more than 100 meters. Additionally the print forms are cheap for manufacturing and make the final product highly competitive.
– How is that achieved?
Our machine comes with all possible extras. The majority of the settings are automatic. The staff also plays a huge role.
– What other investments in machines do you have during the past years?
At the end of the last year we invested in a machine for varnishes. It enabled us to apply various layers – relief, uv varnishes and so on. We have also machines for hot foil stamping and cutting.
– Machine for cold foil stamping?
No, this technology is especially for winery labels unsuitable, as the effect is not as spectacular as in the hot stamping. The preliminary expenses are also higher. Another argument is that it is only applicable to long print runs.
– Do you have new projects and what are your expectations?
The printing industry in Bulgaria is tremendously developing. If we want to keep up with its pace, here and abroad, we need to make more and more investments in modern technologies as well as in human resources. Yes, we have certain plans for the future. They include innovative projects which aim is to guarantee us stable development. Let’s not give away more details. We prefer to keep them secret.
– The modern equipment requires highly qualified staff. What can you tell about employees in the printing house, are there enough specialists?
Unfortunately, in Lovech it is hard to find highly qualified employees. We seek young, ambitious and motivated people and offer them further education.
– Mr. Dimitrov, if you had the chance to step back in time, would you change anything? Would there be Printing House Daga? Would you produce labels?
Yes, in spite of all difficulties, I am convinced that there would be a printing house, which name would definitely be associated with the printing of labels. Maybe I would save us a part of the difficulties, but one thing is for sure – the Printing House would exist.
The interview was conducted by Ekaterina Nikolva