Rajesh Bhasin: UFlex plans on investing more in R&D

Rajesh Bhasin, joint president, UFlex Chemicals Business, in a conversation with the WhatPackaging? Team, gives insights about UFlex’s chemical business and what has been transpiring on the ground with inks and coatings, at Plastindia 2023, held at Pragati Maidan

21 Mar 2023 | By WhatPackaging? Team

Rajesh Bhasin: As a manufacturer of inks, adhesives, and coatings, it is our prime responsibility to ensure that the customer gets the best performance out of our products

WhatPackaging? (WP): What did UFlex display at Plastindia with the chemical business?
Rajesh Bhasin (RB):
At Plastindia, we showcased our entire portfolio of products and solutions. The UFlex chemical business has a product basket that consists of inks, adhesives, and coatings. But when we talk about their applications; they include offset, narrow-web, and converting inks and that is the bandwidth we present here. While our initial focus was on the converting industry; we have now added narrow-web and offset to our portfolio as well.

WP? Team: What are the current trends?
Sustainability continues to be a trend and a hot topic of discussion. We are continuously working on expanding our range of green solutions, but the challenge is to make these alternative solutions at “no extra cost”. Secondly, while the raw material availability situation has improved, the market is expanding and the business is growing; however, the prices are under serious pressure. 

WP? Team: How is UFlex keeping up with them?
Well, the last few years have been most exciting. We have launched several new products filling gaps in our product range, which were well received by the consumers. Our focus on offering differentiated products and services has paid rich dividends and we have recorded high growth in the last few years. We continue to invest and strengthen our R&D which is also helping us create newer products for international markets.

WP? Team: How big is the team including sales, admin, and R&D and how is R&D doing in terms of pigments, resins, and additives?
The team consists of about 650 in this business. We have one of the widest ranges of product offerings globally and have created dedicated R&D cells for each of our product groups. Each of these verticals has its team of experts responsible for product development and quality. We have an interesting pipeline of products with each of our R&D teams to offer superior solutions which help improve productivity.

WP? Team: In offset, is UFlex looking at the entire gamut which includes mono cartons and publications?
As far as offset application is concerned, our focus is on radiation cure inks and coatings (UV, LED), besides adhesives. We have strategically decided to stay away from traditional oil-based inks. 

WP? Team: What do you promote for narrow-web, UV, or water-based inks?
We currently offer UV-based inks and coatings besides water-based inks for narrow-web.

WP? Team: What is UFlex doing in terms of having ink kitchens and ink laboratories with its customers?
The concept of ink kitchens is fast catching up in India with large consumers of inks. Since the ink producer takes complete responsibility for both product quality and performance on the printing machines by offering ready inks for consumer machines, it takes away the major challenge of the printer or converter who can then focus on productivity. We have several ink kitchens operating with various customers.

The team consists of about 650 in this business and it has created dedicated R&D cells for each of its product groups

WP? Team: What are the conversations taking place in terms of technical services in the industry?
As a manufacturer of inks, adhesives, and coatings, it is our prime responsibility to ensure that the customer gets the best performance out of our products. We also need to ensure that the customer is up-to-date in terms of technological developments around the world. We consider this to be one of our key responsibilities and have put together a competent team which is available to offer its expertise on demand. We also work closely with our cylinder and machinery divisions to offer joint solutions to our clients. 

WP? Team: What is happening with toluene-free inks?
As far as toluene-free inks are concerned, technology is not a challenge at all. We have been producing a large quantity of solvent-free inks for the past few years and have recently converted our Jammu plant into a 100% toluene-free site. 

WP? Team: What is UFlex doing in adhesives?
UFlex has a complete range of water-based, solvent-based, and solvent-free adhesives. We have significantly invested in our R&D and technical capabilities. In addition, we are adding newer capacities for adhesives at our sites.

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