What does the machine do?
It’s a compact, four-colour, digital flatbed inkjet printer, which jets Sericol UV inks directly on to either rigid or flexible substrates up to a size of 3.2×1.6m.
Why did you choose this particular machine?
It meets our business requirements perfectly by delivering near photo-like quality at high speed. It also has a small footprint, which fits into our studio neatly, and has allowed us to keep our Agfa Chieftain hybrid machine on board for the production of banners and other roll-to-roll work.
Did you look at any other similar machines?
We were impressed with Inca’s Eagle when we saw it running at an exhibition last year, but we don’t require the high volumes that machine is designed to produce.
What features do you particularly like?
The fact that the inks cure on the fly means we do not have to rack or store printed materials in order to wait for them to dry. As a result, our operation is far more efficient. Thanks to the Spyder 320’s registration, we are able to accurately produce very-large-format work by ‘tiling up’ an image at the touch of a button. This means we break the image up into, say, four pieces, print them separately and then mount them into one big display item. This is a profitable area for us now as it was painstakingly difficult and time consuming to take on this work with our traditional screen printing equipment.
What features do you dislike?
Nothing really. If you keep to the maintenance programme, it is very reliable. In six months we have had to call Inca out only once and the problem was resolved the next day.
How fast is it?
Its top output is 50m2 per hour, but we have only ever used it up to 28m2 per hour. Even at this reduced speed, we soon found we were running out of work for the Spyder, and this led to us employing two new sales executives. One of them specifically brings in point-of-sale (PoS) print work, which can help fill the downtime we were experiencing. Our core business is large-format commercial and industrial site signage. The PoS work has meant we can fill the gaps in production, keep the Spyder running more cost-effectively and increase profits.
What’s the quality like?
Very good. We recently produced an 8x4m team photograph for Leeds rugby club and the results were very sharp.
How much time or money has it saved?
The time savings are considerable. In 30 minutes we can print a job that would have taken two people half a day to complete with our old production methods. This greatly increases our turnover potential and with that our profitability. We expect print production to increase by between 30-40%. Direct savings are on consumables and labour. Short-run printing jobs are completed at a fraction of the cost of traditional screen printing, and the savings on films alone are considerable. We supply and install hoardings around construction sites and these can have any number of 8x4m sheets of plywood. We can produce from start to finish a 70-sheet job in a day and a half – this would normally have taken close to two weeks.
Has it won you new work?
Yes, it has won us lots of new business. This has included work from construction companies requesting multiple runs on to materials such as plywood, and work for a firm of solicitors, printing their business logo directly on to glass privacy screens.
Who do you think the machine is right for?
Commercial sign manufacturers, who supply large-format graphics for indoor and outdoor use, and screen printers who want to move into digital.
Under what circumstances would you buy another?
We are moving heavily into supplying site safety signage for a number of national construction companies. We may, in the near future, require a second Spyder 320 to keep up with the quantities required. The Spyder’s speed has meant we don’t have to keep vast quantities of printed stock on the shelves.
Read the original article at www.printweek.com.
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