This article was first published in a Sustainable Printing and Packaging technology feature in the February 2021 issue of ProPrint. To read the magazine, please click here.
Next Printing, a Sydney-based display print enterprise, has been producing sustainable print since its inception, says general manager Andrew Oskar and group managing director Romeo Sanuri.
The 16-year-old operation, which traces its origins to a photographic lab in the 1980s, has transitioned from a narrow base of printing on rigid substrates, retaining that but broadening into soft signage during the past decade, after Sanuri saw that segment flourishing in Europe.
Next Printing now arguably sits at the top of the ladder as Australia’s finest signage and display fabric printer.
Running a premium business model in a market segment that is still a long way from becoming commoditised and ravaged by margin slashers, Next Printing operates in a world of high-performance inks and specialised fabric displays, explains Sanuri.
For fabric printing, Next runs a Durst Rhotex 322, a 3.2m direct press for printing coated polyesters, and a Durst Rhotex 180TR 1.8m hybrid direct and transfer press (transfer printing for uncoated polyesters).
Both presses use Durst-supplied high-energy dispersed dye-sub inkjets, while two Durst Rho 312 and 320 roll-to-roll presses print vinyl banners and some fabrics using UV inks.
For boards and flatsheets, there are two Durst Rho P10/250 flatbeds, and a smaller HP 360 latex printer.
For the best part of a decade now, UV inks have made major advances in sharpness, with a much finer dot, and they harden well under the lamp, with no cracking, even when rolled up or crushed. UV inks also have a good opacity for backlit displays.
While Next is committed to fabrics and boards, Sanuri sees fabric banners as having superior logistics – they can be transported into a venue without cumbersome handling issues, such as side-impact damage that can affect rigids.
That said, the business believes there will always be a market for versatile, die cut boards, especially in eco-boards such as Reboard, a patented recyclable board made from post-consumer waste.
So, what is the sustainability equation with this successful business model?
“To produce print sustainably has been in our DNA since the beginning of the company’s journey,” Oskar told ProPrint.
“Next was an early adopter of UV printing when the market was still trusting solvent printing. In 2011, Next got into fabric dye sublimation printing with the mission of reducing the packing size and distribution time to the retail environment. Then in 2012, we fully invested the team in adopting Reboard technology. The mission was to reduce the usage of MDF in the events and exhibitions environment.
“By partnering with the right waste management company, we offer a closed-loop solution to our customers who are looking for a sustainable approach, which means customers are assured that all of the Reboard component will go to the recycling stream, instead of the landfill.”
Last year, the company invested in its third fabric printer, a HP Stitch S1000, which features thermal inkjet printhead technology to help reduce time and waste.
The HP Stitch features the first user-replaceable printhead, resulting in reduced downtimes. Most printers require manual action in terms of head maintenance and alignment, but the HP Stitch automates this, explains Oskar.
“This year’s initiative sees us offering fabric and laminate made from recycled PET bottles to our clients,” Oskar said.
“We’re excited about where the market is heading. Customers are starting to shift their preferences towards sustainable product in comparison to traditional product.
This helps the raw material supplier to offer a sustainable product in the most cost-effective way, so that we can pass on the benefit. It is a win-win. 2021, we’re on a mission.”
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