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Mimaki JV5-320DS dye sublimation printer
6/22/2012 10:00:00 AM GMT

Also holding the record for the world's largest advent calendar, Cambridgeshire-based Macro Art clearly doesn't do things by halves. And this was precisely the ethos behind the decision, in response to textile signage's increased popularity for store dressings and exhibitions, to diversify from UV and PVC banners, vehicle wraps and building wraps and add textile printing. "We decided not to push for the trade market with our textile offering, so not the high-volume, low-price, third-party/fourth-party side of things," explains production manager Matt Tibbitts. "We wanted to go into high-end retail stores and high-end exhibitions, producing products for very prestigious customers." For this reason, quality results were top of Macro Art's shopping list when it started a thorough research exercise, which included trips to Holland, Germany, Israel and Spain, in 2010. The company looked at a range of textile printers, including a Dgen printer, the HP Designjet latex printer and Agfa's Jeti Aquajet, but decided Mimaki's JV5-320DS dye sublimation printer from reseller i-Sub was just the job. "The Mimaki wasn't necessarily the fastest machine we saw, but it was producing the best quality and consistency of print," explains Tibbitts. "The high quality was important because of where we were trying to position ourselves within the marketplace." He adds: "You can't buy a fast machine and make it high quality, but you can make a high-quality printer produce more by buying more machines." And investment in more Mimakis came sooner than Macro Art expected. The company had deliberately left space to buy more when the time was right, reports Tibbitts, but demand for high-end, high-quality textile banners rapidly outstripped Macro's capacity, and so a new machine was installed four months after the first, and then another earlier this year. Tibbitts attributes this success to getting in early on a high-end market that few people in the UK cater for, and the fact that Macro also offers supporting services for large-scale textile projects, such as framing and installation. "We bought the first Mimaki with the idea of future investment in the same area but it's come a lot quicker than we imagined," he says. "That's because we're hopefully leading the way within the UK marketplace with this sort of high-quality work and offering these sorts of services alongside the textile product." Very little downtimeAnd it's not only the quality of the finished pieces that has allowed Macro to quickly establish itself as a front runner in high-end textile printing, and gain such prestigious textile projects as the Shell Eco Marathon. The reliability of the machines has also been good, reports Tibbitts, with very little downtime. "In the whole of the 18 months that we've had the Mimaki machines now, we've only had one jet issue on one of the machines," he says. "That was caused by us delaminating one of the jetheads by keeping it too clean. We were shown a different way of keeping the heads up to scratch and we've had no further problems." I-Sub was very helpful in sending an engineer out within 24 hours for this slight hitch, says Tibbitts, and in fact no downtime was suffered. "Of course, the fantastic thing about the Mimakis is that, because you've got a variable print pattern, while that head was unusable we could just switch it off and carry on printing with three," he says. I-Sub was also helpful in providing training, reports Tibbitts. "We were fairly well versed with this sort of machinery anyway, so we didn't need much training," he says. "We had a show day at Mimaki Europe just to take us round the machines, then on the first install we had a trainer for the week." Particularly useful was i-Sub linking Macro Art up with a couple of experienced dye sublimation printers who visited and were available on the phone for the first month to offer hints and tips, says Tibbitts. The supplier has also been helpful, he says, in helping Macro develop the one aspect the company feels is missing from the printer. "One thing that the DS doesn't have that the original JV5 has is a vacuum bed and we're trying to build one ourselves," says Tibbitts. "The machine prints absolutely fantastically direct to textile, but it doesn't print so well on to the transfer paper used to print on woven products. We're not able to produce these items in the sort of volumes and quality that we'd like because the machine doesn't handle the paper as well as we'd hoped." Director at i-Sub John Purse admits that this can be an issue with lightest weight papers, which is why the company is helping Macro to find "additional ways of increasing the performance of the printer." But this shouldn't be a problem for most, says Purse, with the printer's "sophisticated media path" usually ensuring simple and good-quality printing. But this is still something someone investing in the machine would have to bear in mind. As is the fact that, though the printer was around the same price as competitors' machines, says Tibbitts, a prospective buyer would have to factor in the cost of a separate sublimator, a machine which uses a heat process to activate and lock in the dyes.Another outlay the wide-format printer looking to get into textile printing might not have considered is the heating, air conditioning and humidification system needed where fabric is involved. "We've learnt that textiles are much more delicate substrates than we imagined," says Tibbitts. "If the fabrics dry out they print differently; if the fabrics become too humid they print differently. So we basically have to balance the whole area with a humidification system and a heating and cooling system." "Everybody said the UK environment should be okay, even though there might be a few fluctuations in humidity and temperature," remembers Tibbitts, "But, of course, the first year we put it in, we had one of the coldest winters. So we soon realised we couldn't do without this kit." The investment in this special environment has been well worth Macro Art's while, however, says Tibbitts. "Within 12 months of getting the first machine in, it's looking like we've gone from a zero to a £1-£1.5 million textile marketplace," he says, reporting that Macro's textile offering is rapidly growing to become as large a part of the business as the UV and PVC side of things. So while Macro Art has enjoyed numerous monster installation successes in the past, it's certainly not all about bigger is better for them. As the company's success in adding textile signage to its portfolio shows, attention to quality outcomes has also been the key. SPECIFICATIONS Print width 3,250mmInks Mimaki Sb52 - CMYKcm / BMYKbm (440cc and two-litre containers)Speed Up to 60.3m2/h at 540x720dpiWarranty Two yearsRIP software included YesPrice £94,995Contact i-Sub 01536 415511 01270 501900 COMPANY PROFILEMacro Art was established in 1992 to specialise in wide-format printing, including banners, trucksides and, on the ‘huge-format-printing' side of things, building wraps. The company prides itself on there being no challenge too big to consider, with an ethos of continuous machine reinvestment to continually expand on its offering. Among Macro Art's more notable accomplishments is an 8,000sqm wrap for Harrods, a 10,000sqm wrap for the Millennium Dome as part of the London 2012 bid, and two Guinness World Records for the world's largest poster and world's largest advent calendar. Why it was bought...With more and more exhibition organisers and store designers going for textile signage, Macro Art decided to invest in this area in late 2010. After some thorough research, the company decided to go for a Mimaki JV5-320DS, installing another in 2011, and then another earlier this year. "The Mimaki wasn't the fastest machine we saw but it was producing the best quality and consistency of print," explains production manager Matt Tibbitts. How it has performed...The print quality of the Mimaki has been superb, reports Tibbitts. Macro Art has also been impressed with the reliability of the printer and the support provided by supplier of the machine i-Sub, a specialist dye sublimation reseller of Mimaki suppliers Hybrid Services.
Star product: Fujifilm Uvistar Pro8
6/22/2012 10:00:00 AM GMT

What does the Fujifilm Uvistar Pro8 do and when was it launched? Launched at Drupa 2012 , the Uvistar Pro8 has been developed in combination with Fujifilm's new Uvijet QN inks. It is geared towards the production of super-wide- format print for display point-of-purchase (POP) and outdoor advertising on flexible and rigid media. How does it work?Using the company's brand-new Uvijet QN inkset, the Uvistar Pro8 has eight colour channels, which can be run either 2xCMYK for speed or, if required, in high-quality eight-colour mode. Fujifilm says that the eight-colour inkset will deliver improved image quality, enabling super-wide print produced by this machine to be used for indoor exhibition and display graphics. According to the manufacturer, switching to eight-colour production only takes five minutes and opens up a raft of sign, display and POS applications. Kevin Rhodes, marketing manager of high-end inkjet systems at Fujifilm Europe, says in addition to a new automated media handling tool for substrates up to 3mm, a backlit camera system learns how your chosen material travels through the printer. This predicts the movement steps through the process ensuring accurate registration for double-sided printing. How does it differ from the manufacturer's other models?New features on the Uvistar Pro8 include a complete set of light colours within the inkset, which Fujifilm claims increases print quality without compromising speed. Other improvements to the design include: an automated media handling system for rigid media; a fully automated backlit printing option; and the ability to switch between four- and eight-colour printing modes. "Since launching the Uvistar, it has been incredibly successful in a short space of time. Now we want to broaden the reach of the machine to indoor, as well as outdoor, applications. The Uvistar Pro8 certainly does this," says Fujifilm group marketing manager for wide-format Tudor Morgan. In addition to a new user interface, which features a touchscreen that enables the user to activate various parts of production from a series of menus, the Uvistar Pro8 features a media-management tool. For example, when printing in roll-to-roll production, the machine records how much substrate is left on the roll and then prints this figure on the outer of the print. What is the USP of the Uvistar Pro8?One of the major advancements of the Uvistar Pro8 platform is the inclusion of a complete set of light colours within the inkset, which increase print quality without compromising on print speed, says Fujifilm. Together with its unique Parallel Drop Size (PDS) technology, this allows the Uvistar Pro8 to produce high-definition display POP graphics at speeds in excess of 300m2 an hour. According to the manufacturer, the printer has been designed to meet an increase in demand for indoor applications, where viewing distances tend to be closer and rigid materials are more commonly used. Importantly, the Uvistar Pro8 will not replace the manufacturer's existing Uvistar model as, according to Morgan, "not all printers need tables or eight colours". It has simply been introduced to serve those printers in the retail market that do want this capability. How easy is the Uvistar Pro8 to use?Fujifilm has built the new machine with a raft of features that it claims promote both ease of use and flexibility for the user. Optional automatic media load and unload tables for rigid media handling mean the media sheets are held by vacuum suction and dedicated drive rollers and print head height is automatically set accurately to the media. And, for uninterrupted production of wide-format graphics, the Uvistar's media load and unload system is "very simple, with quick roll changeover". In addition, the printer's multi-roll feature enables the operator to work simultaneously on up to three rolls, each up to 1,600mm wide. How much does it cost?From £212,000, which includes the flatbed option. ALTERNATIVES EFI Vutek GS3250This 3.2m-wide flatbed and roll-to-roll UV printer is claimed to deliver "superior photo-realistic quality and high production speeds" in both roll-to-roll and rigid production. The machine, which can print in up to eight-colours plus white, can switch between flatbed and roll-to-roll operation in under a minute. According to EFI, the machine can deliver "sellable quality" at speeds up to 223sqm an hour with continuous board-to-board, board-to-sheet and roll-to-roll printing capabilities.Print width 3.2mResolution Dual resolution: 600dpi (24pL) or 1,000dpi (12 pL) selectable.Speed Fast-5 production - 223sqm per hour. Eight-colour plus white - 111.4sqm per hour.Colours White-printing capability allows printing white in six variations (overprint, underprint, spot, underspot, fill and overspot).Price From £259kContact EFI 01246 298000 HP Scitex XP5500 PrinterHP has pitched the successful HP Scitex XP5500 printer at companies producing high-quality outdoor and indoor signage with "industry-leading print speeds and unprecedented ink coverage". Applications include banners, billboards, building wraps and event graphics.Print width Roll-fed media up to 5mPrint speed Up to 325sqm an hourPrint resolution Up to 360dpiPrice £275,000Contact HP UK 0845 605 6013
Me & my: Duplo DBMi saddle stitcher
6/15/2012 10:00:00 AM GMT

Printers have always been an active part of their local business community, tying together disparate professions by being the common supplier to all. However, consolidation in the print industry and rock bottom pricing by the bigger, national printing companies that can afford to make a loss has threatened the fragile bonds in these local hubs. It's something Artisan Litho owner Neil Buckingham has witnessed at first hand. "I wanted the company to provide a good, friendly and reliable service, I wanted it to be approachable and I wanted it to support local business and in turn be supported by them," he explains. "The trouble is that people are still more loyal to the pound than anything else and that puts a lot of pressure on us as we want to continue to offer the service we built the company on and to do that we have to be very sensible about our pricing. There is only so far we can go, so we have to be creative in the way we produce the jobs and how we work in house." Buckingham established the Oxfordshire company in 1995, fulfilling a long-held ambition to set up his own business. Boasting litho, digital, large-format and fulfilment services, the company serves a diverse mix of local business clients. The broad range of services are, says Buckingham, essential, as "you can't just be one type of printer any more; clients want a single source for all their needs". As Buckingham said above, though, serving those clients at the right price point means having the right kit at your disposal in house. To that end, the company recently became the first UK printer to install the Duplo DBMi saddle stitcher. "We needed to make our bookletmaking processes more efficient, and we needed more flexibility in how we produced booklets," says Buckingham. "We have had Duplo machines for a long time now and so we knew relatively early on about the new machine - when we saw what it was capable of we realised that it was perfect for us." The machine was launched in February. Duplo UK managing director Tony Lock says that right from the start, versatility was key to the design. "When developing the DBMi, it was important for us to utilise our expertise in automated precision technology, while harnessing the advantages of a saddle stitching system," he explains. "The result is a machine capable of producing a wide variety of flat books, with in-line scoring and trimming, which has a makeready time of less than 60 seconds with absolutely no tooling required." He adds that the machine is perfect for those long-term Duplo customers looking to upgrade from the Duplo System 5000 or, like Artisan Press, the System 4000. "Until now, the System 5000 was the upper limit to our bookletmaking range," he says. "Having listened to the needs of our customers, we developed the DBMi." The DBMi is capable of a one-up production speed of 4,5000bph and a two-up production speed of 9,000bph. It has the ability to change from an A4 landscape book, all the way down to a 75x90mm booklet within 60 seconds with no tooling required, and can handle book thicknesses up to 120 pages. It has up to four stitching heads for two-up book production, and two-hole punching, together with three-knife trimming. Most versatile machineBuckingham did consider other machines on the market but felt that the majority were focussing on the wrong areas to impress potential buyers. "We felt the Duplo machine was the most versatile option out there," he reveals. "The other products just concentrate on speed, but there is only so fast you can run a bookletmaker - it may be able to run at 10,000bph but you will never run it that fast. What we were more interested in was the fact the DBMi can score inline and process landscape A4." Installation occurred when most people were gearing up for Drupa in April. Buckingham says the press was up and running in around four days, which included a period of extensive training. Considering it was the first installation in the UK of the machine, Buckingham was pleasantly surprised there were no hiccups. The company's old Duplo System 4000 was sold to a dealer so the cost of the new machine was cushioned somewhat by the strong residual value Buckingham says Duplo machines command. "That is another reason we go with Duplo; the resale values remain relatively good," he explains. "That said, we aim to get 10 years out of this machine. It has the capacity for us to grow into it. I would say that we could easily double our current workload on the machine with no issues." Since installation, Artisan has not had to call on the full service package it took out with Duplo for any mechanical issues, but they have from time to time called for advice on how to do certain processes or how to get round particular tricky production tasks. "We are finding our way still, working out how to get around certain things and how to do certain things," says Buckingham. "Duplo has been great at giving us the guidance we need." You'd have thought that with a new machine - one full of unknowns, meaning that the pride-crushing call for help has to be made - the operators would be cursing their new toy. The reality, though, is quite the opposite, according to Buckingham. "The operators have given great feedback and believe me they would tell me if they were not happy. They haven't moaned once," he reveals. "Once you get used to it, it is a very simple machine to use, and it really is push a green button and go, once you have programmed in the jobs." Buckingham is equally happy, as the machine has had a very positive impact on his business. For starters, he says the Duplo 4000 would only do booklets of 40 pages, whereas with the DBMi he has been doing 80 pages and more. Time savings and more capability"In addition," he continues, "it will score in line, whereas before we were having to score everything separately. We do a lot of bookletwork so the machine gives us massive time savings and more capability." In terms of quality, he says the System 4000 was already a very high-quality machine, so the aim was for the new machine to manage that quality with the added bonus of the time savings, as well as offering more varied formats. "Our clients like a good finish, and the machine's three-knife trim makes sure they get one," he reveals. "Though stocks vary constantly, and are mixed between digital and litho work, the machine can cope. It will also go from A6 right up to landscape A4 so that is a major bonus for us and our clients." That ability to do landscape A4 has meant Artisan could provide existing clients with product diversity while attracting new clients as well. Buckingham adds that the efficiencies gained have meant more security for the business as profitability thus far looks as if it will be upped significantly. That "thus far" is a caveat born from the fact the machine is brand new to the UK and Artisan has only had it for a couple of months, so it is still early days. Andy Pike, marketing manager at Duplo UK, certainly appreciates that Artisan Litho took the risk in being the first to purchase the machine. "The Artisan installation was great," he says. "Being a forward-thinking business this machine really suited their needs, with landscape A4 being an ever-more-popular book size. When adopting a new piece of technology like this, change can be difficult; however, Artisan's team was incredibly switched on and the machine is running very well." Buckingham hopes the machine will grow with the company over the next year as it makes further pressroom investments, and he is more than happy to talk to any printer considering a DBMi purchase - though he says he can sum it up in a single sentence: "It has the overall package: it has the quality, the speed and the versatility. SPECIFICATIONS Maximum speed (dependent on page numbers) One-up production speed 4,500bphTwo-up production speed 9,000bph Maximum book thickness Up to 120 pages or 6mmx80gsm paper Maximum flat sheet size 350x610mm Minimum flat sheet size 120x210mm Maximum scoring thickness 1.5mm Price £145,000 for a 10-station system Contact Duplo 01932 263900 [email protected] COMPANY PROFILEArtisan Litho is an Oxfordshire commercial printer set up by Neil Buckingham in 1995. It serves a diverse mix of local businesses with digital, litho and large-format kit, while also offering fulfilment services. Why it was bought…Buckingham says the company needed to be more efficient and more creative to cope with a demanding market and that this included having better tools at its disposal in house. The DBMi gave those efficiencies but also offered versatility that would expand Artisan's services. How it has performed…"Our clients like a good finish, and the machine's three-knife trim makes sure they get one," says Buckingham. "Though stocks vary constantly, and are mixed between digital and litho work, the machine can cope with all of those variations. It will also go from A6 right up to landscape A4 so that is a major bonus for us and our clients."
Star product: Kern Ai-33Direct
6/15/2012 10:00:00 AM GMT

What is it and when was it launched? The Kern Ai-33Direct is a high-speed mail inserting machine. The inserter, which was unveiled at Drupa 2012, runs at 33,000 mail pieces per hour. "The Ai-33 represents the next stage in the quest for speed and productivity to drive cost-effectiveness in the inserting market," said Kern senior vice-president of strategy Dave Squires at the machine's launch in May. What does it do?The Ai-33Direct is modular in design, like all Kern products, so a customer can choose the exact configuration needed and add modules according to any changing requirements. It can be installed with up to 20 divert bins on the same system, although the average customer will use around six, according to the company. A range of cutters can also be connected to the Ai-33, including the K999 high-speed cutter. The single-sided-access machine, which tracks documents at every stage of the process, can be operated by just one person, giving a low cost per unit of mail. How does it work?The Ai-33Direct was developed by Kern's US business and incorporates more than 100 sensors to ensure mailing integrity across the whole line. The sensors enable the machine to adapt its behaviour to the process and product to maximise efficiency, while identifying errors and automatically taking faulty products out of the production line. "With this highly intelligent system, we can guarantee high integrity and accurate mail packages that can be relied upon," says Squires. To handle the high speed of the Ai-33, an output conveyor of 15 feet (4.6m) is added at the end of the machine. Other features of the machine include a centralised communication system for controlling safety information and functions, flexible speed options and a touchscreen operating panel. It can be fitted with up to 16 high-speed friction feeders. The feeders also feature programmable misfeed and double-feed protection, helping to ensure document integrity. The inserter head is designed to process a wide range of envelopes, including side-seam, executive, top-flat, bottom-flat, diamond-cut, straight-flap, rounded-flap and bevelled-flap designs. Who is it aimed at?The machine is aimed at customers inserting more than 50m packages a year, but Kern says a typical customer would be producing well over 100m a year. What is its USP?Kern claims that the Ai-33Direct inserter is the fastest in the world and that it provides the lowest overall cost per piece in the industry. It maximises output via the use of sensors that identify areas where efficiencies can be made. Automatic adjustments in timing can be made to maximise throughput and reduce system inefficiencies. Kern UK general manager Peter Jolly says: "The output the Ai-33 can achieve means that there is less of a requirement for additional inserter lines, which reduces floor space and the use of other resources." How much does it cost?Price is dependent on configuration and is available on application. There are no current users of the machine, due to its very recent launch. Is it easy to use and is training provided?Kern claims that the machine is very user friendly. Training is provided by the manufacturer. SPECIFICATIONSSpeed 33,000 mailpieces per hourMin envelope size 215x89mm Max envelope size 280x162mm Max envelope thickness 8mmInsert capacity 990mm high insert hopperPrice On applicationContact ALTERNATIVESPitney Bowes MPS26Pitney Bowes' Mailstream Productivity Series is a range of three high-speed mail inserters. The MPS26 is optimised for multiple, low-page-count applications. The machine is equipped with DC Verify software which Pitney Bowes says ensures the high integrity of its inserters.Speed 26,000 pieces per hourPrice On applicationContact 0844 4 992 992 CMC 9000The CMC 9000 envelope-inserting machine is aimed at producing DL, C5 high-volume transactional jobs. Its input channels have been optimised for low-to-medium page counts. The machine features an optional automatic reprint capability enabling any rework to be done while the job is being completed.Speed Up to 32,000 envelopes/hourMaximum thickness 8mmPrice On applicationContact 01933 222111
Me & my... Epson SurePress L-4033A
6/1/2012 10:00:00 AM GMT

"I used to print PrintWeek," reveals Miller, "so I would get the latest print news before everyone else!" Miller then did some time in the production control and financial environments before heading home to Superfast in 1989. This experience paid off: after his step-father retired 10 years ago, Miller got the top job, but still has some experienced hands at his side. "My sister Julie is the financial manager, then the production manager and the sales manager are sisters, and they have been here since the start pretty much," he says. "So all of us have been together for 20 years or more; we know the business and our sector extremely well." That sector is the labels business, printing for media companies ("I can't name them specifically", says Miller) producing labels for CDs, books and other items. The company also produces labels for food companies and other assorted markets. The work from these clients had become increasingly short-run and complex over the past few years and so Miller had begun to outsource to digital printers work that he could not do, or which was not economical to do, on his flexo machines. By the time LabelExpo came around last year, the amount he was outsourcing had grown so much he was pondering the purchase of a digital press to bring all that work back inhouse. "The requirement to move to digital was multiple - shorter runs, more variable label runs and also more complicated art work," explains Miller. "Designers have been let loose and so labels are getting trickier. The flexo press can do a good job on these, but with the digital press, you get an entirely different - and better - job." Hence, walking around LabelExpo, Miller was running his eye over the myriad of digital options on offer. Size was a big concern as if the press was too big it would have meant the removal of a flexo press and he was clear that digital would be a complement to flexo, not a replacement. He was also concerned about the finish certain machines offered. "EFI has a very good label press that prints a very good label but I really do not like the UV surface texture; Xeikon also has a good machine, but I didn't want to have to UV varnish everything as you get that flat toner base surface; then another option was the HP Indigo, but that was really beyond what we needed at that time," reveals Miller. Perfect fitThankfully, he soon spotted the perfect fit for his company. "When we saw the Epson SurePress, with the ability to print straight onto paper with no pre-treatment and its small footprint, we knew it was perfect. It was the best quality and the least hassle," he explains. The model Miller had laid eyes on was the L-4033a, which was installed in November. The machine is a six-colour (cyan, magenta, yellow, black, orange and green), industrial-quality, water-based inkjet machine, and there is no pre-treatment or top coating required for substrates, meaning a variety of standard off-the-shelf substrates can be used at variable web widths up to 13in wide. The press measures a compact 3,722x1,451x1,878mm, with the rewinder adding just 1,310x900x1,000mm. This left room for Superfast to add an inline GMDC33U-mini label converter from Holtby Williams International, which complemented the press. Installation of the press and finishing line was, says Miller, interesting. The machine was to be housed in an adjoining unit to the main factory that was being used as a paper store, so the 12 Superfast employees had to shift piles of paper across the road to another unit the company owned - "a very tiring experience," says Miller. They then had to prepare the unit for the new addition, which included resurfacing the floor. The press was fitted into place, and a stud wall was put up to enclose it ready for the air conditioning system to make the space suitable for the digital work. "If you see it now, you will be looking at the door wondering how the press had got in there!" he reveals. "Everything went smoothly, though. We were testing on the machine within a day." He says training was not extensive, as the machine is very straightforward to use, though operators did get a walk through the controls and processes. "We can get it running and then leave it alone, which is the beauty of it, really," he explains. "We can monitor it through a webcam and get instant data out of the machine into our MIS. So the operator can be doing something else and check on it with a quick glance on a computer." Miller's webcam is separate to the remote diagnostics that come as standard with the SurePress. This has not been utilised thus far, however. The machine came with a dedicated engineer, as it was the first to be installed in the UK, but this has also turned out be unnecessary. "In the six months we have had the machine," reveals Miller, "we have only had to call on his services twice and both times it was for extremely minor things. It is contactless printing so there isn't really too much it can do to itself." Miller says that he was not worried about being the first company in the UK to install the machine, as Epson had made him feel very at ease in the discussions prior to the purchase. He adds that at the live demo at LabelExpo the quality was clear to see - though he acknowledges that show demos are often a highly-practiced showcase. "On the day of the show, they were running a very high quality job on an eight-pass job, and then they put a four pass job on running at twice the speed and you could still see the quality was great," he says. Exceptional qualityThankfully for Miller, the machine has matched that performance since installation. He says the quality is exceptional and the versatility a real bonus. "The machine is superb - we can put a job on there and it can be done in 15 minutes, whereas in 15 minutes on a flexo press you have only just got the plates mounted," he reveals. "In terms of quality, I think it beats the competitors. With rival machines, you get a fringe around your areas of half tone, but on this, you get sharp, crisp edges. We are also able to give faster turnaround and have not had to go back to ask anyone about a design, as we've been able to print even the most ambitious designs first time." But it may not be suitable for everyone - Miller concedes that the machine is slower than some rivals'. For him, though, this is not a concern. "The print speed we have is slower than the Indigo and the Xeikon, but we're doing lots of small labels, so to go any faster would be paying for a speed we do not need," he explains. The machine, then, is a perfect fit for Superfast Labels, but that does not mean Miller hasn't kept his eye on the market. At Drupa, he took a long hard look at the previewed SurePress X technology. "The SurePress X was very, very nice indeed," he says. "If it were to progress to the launch stage and come out for around 18 months' time, we would be ready to upgrade and we would definitely be looking at that as the best machine to upgrade to." At present, it is unclear whether the X launch will hit Miller's deadline. "The SurePress X is a future technology, which showed high-speed, single-pass, web-fed label printing using UV ink. As yet, the launch and final specifications are not confirmed," reveals Marc Tinkler, senior business development manager of commercial and industrial printing at Epson Europe. Miller is not worried, however, as he is happy with the press he's got. It meets all of his needs in terms of speed and produces, in his view, the best quality on the market. For a first move into digital labelling, Miller and his team consider it to be a resounding success. SPECIFICATIONS Max resolution 1,440x720dpiInk Epson SurePress AQ ink (water-based, pigment ink system)Colours L-4033A: CMYK, plus orange and green L-4033 AW: CMYK, plus orange, green and whitePrint speed Up to 5m/minWeb width 80-330mm adjustableImage size 315.2x914.4mm (maximum repeat lengths)Substrate support Standard self-adhesive label stock and filmSubstrate thickness 0.1-0.32mmPrice L-4033A: £190,000; L-4033AW: £215,000Contact Epson 01442 898023 COMPANY PROFILESuperfast Labels was established in the mid-1980s and produces label products for the media industry, as well as other sectors including food packaging. The Kent business is a family affair, with managing director Andrew Miller taking over from his stepfather to run the company, Miller's sister Julie running the finance side of the business and a pair of sisters heading up the sales and production teams. The company runs both digital and flexo kit. Why it was bought…"The requirement to move to digital was multiple - shorter runs, more variable label runs and also more complicated art work," explains Miller. "Designers have been let loose and so labels are getting trickier. The flexo press can do a good job on these, but with the digital press you get an entirely different - and better - job."How it has performed…Miller says the press is "superb" and was easy to use from day one. He opted for the press for its superior quality and he explains that since installation it has not let him down. He adds that the small footprint of the press is a major bonus.
Star product: Shuttleworth MIS v5.1
6/1/2012 10:00:00 AM GMT

What is it and when was it launched? Shuttleworth MIS v5.1 is the latest version of the Shuttleworth MIS, which was first launched in the mid 1990s. "It is designed for every print scenario, including repro, commercial print, packaging and print management," says Paul Deane, joint managing director. "It's a complete front-to-back system, so covers every process that a print business would use." Modules include estimating, costing, CRM, raw and finished stock, purchasing, dataflow, scheduling, invoicing, JDF/JMF and ‘business intelligence'. The new version was launched at Drupa 2012. What's new in version 5.1?Deane says the new functionality in v5.1 is aimed at assisting the front office of a print firm, "the heavy users" in Deane's view. "We wanted to make it so they had better connectivity between their MIS and their email systems, as the majority of business communication is done via email these days," he reveals. "So in v5.1 we made sure information can be moved from an email system to a business system (an MIS) as smoothly and easily as possible." The new version offers the ability to grab an email and drag it onto the MIS window. The system can also identify relevant attachments and place them onto the MIS server, or create a hyperlink to the file. In practical terms, this means that for a request for quotation email, you can drag and drop that email onto the Event Enquiry filter. All the details from the email including the attachments are automatically included on the Enquiry Event. The Event Enquiries are automatically prioritised by the ‘created date' order and ‘priorities and colours' are used to highlight the urgency and status of all Enquiry Events. "Even if the information comes in an email where a series of conversations have taken place, it can still seek out the right information relevant for the job," says Deane. "What happened before is that people would use the email only and so you would have these islands of information everywhere - now all that information is stored centrally where everyone else in the business can access it." The other significant new feature is the Business Intelligence toolset. With this module, you have a traditional dashboard where you can see live data in graphical formats, so you can see exactly what the business is doing. This now has a drill-down capability, so you can see the number of orders that day, but also see all the data associated with each job, such as costs and profits. This information can be accessed through the web, the MIS client and also through mobile devices. "There is also capability for the user to create their own dashboard, so they can set up the KPI requirements and define the information they want," says Deane. What is its USP?"I think the functionality in v5.1 moves the goal posts for MIS," says Deane. "We also have a highly configurable system that really hands the power to the printer to get a bespoke solution and I think that our MIS offers more in this area than most." He adds that the upgrade is free, which, he believes, is unusual for upgrades that add "masses of increased functionality". How easy is it to use?The system is very easy to use, according to Deane, who adds that the MIS is very intuitive and with a bit of training is simple to manage and configure to make bespoke for specific requirements. Shuttleworth also offers ongoing services in customising the system if the printer does not wish to do it itself. How much does it cost and how many users does the system have currently?"We have more than 400 customers in the UK using the software," says Deane. Prices per user are between £2,000-£3,000 depending on functionality. SPECIFICATIONSOperating system Windows 2003-2008/Progress DatabasePrice Approx £2,000 per user depending on the number of modulesContact Shuttleworth 01536 316338 ALTERNATIVESOptimus Optimus dash is designed to provide high levels of software automation and user flexibility for all print sectors. Optimus says dash is "super-fast" and highly flexible.Operating system Mac and PCPrice from £6,500 for a two-user systemContact Optimus 01483 740233 TimeHarvestTimeHarvest is an end-to-end quoting and production system that allows users to go from quote through to invoicing with just one set of inputs.Operating system Mac, PC and iOSPrice From £165 per month for a two-user, hosted systemContact TimeHarvest 01865 236202 TharsternTharstern has two MIS products, SmallPrint and Primo. The former is a low-cost option for SMEs, more inline with the price point of the Shuttleworth system. Operating system Mac and PCPrice SmallPrint from £6,495 or £199 per monthContact Tharstern 01282 860660
Me & my... Taopix 2.5.8 photobook creation software
5/25/2012 10:00:00 AM GMT

Fast forward 130 years and the Headley brothers' ambitions have been surpassed beyond their wildest dreams. The Headley Brothers business, although still in the family, has gone through many evolutions, first branching into producing a local Kent newspaper with "a strong emphasis on temperance and morality" in 1883, then gradually adding books, educational pamphlets, colour work and magazines to its offering, to become one of the biggest employers in the Kent area. The latest chapter in the Headley Brothers' story would perhaps have been particularly mind-blowing for Herbert and Burgess to contemplate back in 1881. To complement the company's core offering of magazines - and side offerings of journals, brochures, catalogues, annual reports, fine art prints, books, posters and calendars - Headley Brothers has recently branched into photobooks and has invested in Taopix software to allow it to do this. Digital print manager Will Inshaw says sophisticated software has been crucial in making this offering work. "Before this software was installed, in November, if someone came to us with PDFs and they wanted a photobook doing we would have said ‘yes', but we weren't able to offer photobooks on the scale we are now," he explains. The Taopix 2.5.8 photobook creation software enables users to create and customise their own books by downloading the Taopix program to their computer then uploading the finished product back to Headley Brothers, paying through an online e-commerce platform. It also means that Headley Brothers can manage everything better at its end. It was the comprehensiveness of the package that attracted Headley Brothers when it was shopping for photobook software, says Inshaw. "We looked at lots of different software vendors and the difference between them and Taopix is that Taopix gives you a solution straight away," he says. "You can take the product off the shelf and you have a whole photobook business. Not only do you have an application to build them in, you have the back end and the shopping cart; it's all tied up into one package, instead of requiring lots of bolt-ons." Another key attraction was the flexibility given to printers in dictating the kinds of products their customers could build. Headley Brothers opted for an interface with limited types of photobook to choose from, but was still able to leave plenty of room for creativity. "Customers choose a category, such as a new baby, family, holiday or wedding album, and then they choose what size they want within that category; the standard for us is 20 pages but we allow them to add more," says Inshaw. "Some people just have simple picture boxes and just drop their pictures in, but some really go to town with the design. They can do that because we don't lock anything down in the pages." "One of the benefits of Taopix is that it can be left down to the individual how creative they want to be," he adds. Download, upgradeCrucial to ensuring the company caters for the more ambitious customer has been the download model of the Taopix software, says Inshaw. While some would argue that an online photobook creation platform is better for providing a more instant creation method, Inshaw maintains that downloading software to the desktop works best. "We've gone for download so people can create more complicated books if they want," he says. "Also, we prefer the download solution because we know everyone's very busy and so an online application is not as good when people are doing a bit of their photobook and then coming back. And broadband speeds are still not that fast in some areas." So far this download model has been working very well, says Inshaw. "It's been very stable, touch wood," he says. "We've not had any issues with people not being able to download the software or not being able to operate the software, because it's stabilised by our server," he adds, explaining that the solution is hosted by a server rented from a company recommended by Taopix. This set-up, he explains, has been very helpful in keeping costs down. "We pay very low rent on our server, around £500 a month for a good-spec server in a secure database," he says. "Taopix will give you help even in that way, they're not just saying here's the software and now you've got to go and find a server. They actually hold your hand right up to the point where you're ready to launch your first application." Such support included three days of "very intense but very helpful" training when the system was first installed, and now entails ongoing support, particularly with marketing the offering to consumers. "That's very helpful when you're used to selling business-to-business," says Inshaw. "We have sold some consumer items before, so we're used to that market, but in selling to the masses, it's very useful to have support." Such a reliable and creative platform should enable Headley Brothers to grow the photobook part of the business, currently only a very small offshoot, says Inshaw. Double actThe company has already set up a partnership with another business whereby Headley Brothers outsources the software to them. And it hopes to enter into more of these kinds of relationships, with photographers for example, in the future. "It's been a steady growth for us, it's not our core business so we're looking to grow it organically," says Inshaw. "But we see photobooks as a growth area and we'd like to see it maybe become 15%-20% of the business eventually." Integral to this growth will be the purchase of upgrades to the solution as they come out. Inshaw currently has his eye on the Portfolio upgrade recently launched at Drupa, and its e-commerce features and enhanced social media integration. "The e-commerce side is a lot nicer-looking now," reports Inshaw. "You can up-sell in the new version so when someone clicks on a particular product they'll now get a message to say ‘why not upgrade'. You can also now draw pictures from sites like Facebook and Flickr directly into the software, and share your photobooks with people electronically. That really appeals to us because social media is something that we want to start getting ourselves really tied in with." The rate of progress that has characterised Headley Brothers' history is showing no signs of slowing, then, with brave new software frontiers taking the business even further from its humble beginnings. And Taopix has been instrumental in ensuring that Headley Brothers capitalises on the future growth area of photobooks, says Inshaw. "I don't think there's another photobook product out there that's close to the Taopix software at the moment," he concludes. "It knocks spots off the competition." SPECIFICATIONSOperating platforms Mac or PCPayment Choice of nearly 50 payment gatewaysData Compression, encryption and decryption only at printer's siteOutput TIFF, JPEG or vector PDF output to print queuesVersions available Taopix Portfolio is available in three business models: Solo, Professional and EnterprisePrice Taopix Solo costs from £11,750Contact Taopix 0845 017 8660 COMPANY PROFILE Headley Brothers was established by Herbert and Burgess Headley in 1881 and has remained in the family ever since. It started life to supply letterpress-printed paper bags for the greengrocer owned by the brothers' father. Today it is a 300-strong commercial magazine printer offering materials including journals, brochures, catalogues, annual reports, fine art prints, examination papers, books, posters and calendars. Why it was purchased...Having enough printing firepower to create photobooks, Headley Brothers was already producing the odd book for customers that requested them, but the company decided that, with downloadable software to easily create and submit photobook designs, this could be a lucrative sideline to its core business. How it has performed...Digital print manager at Headley Brothers Will Inshaw says that the Taopix 2.5.8 software has proved a highly comprehensive solution that offers customers an easy-to-use and creative platform. Headley Brothers is very impressed, reports Inshaw, with the support given by Taopix and is looking to invest in the latest upgrade, Taopix portfolio.
Star product: HP Designjet L28500 Printer
5/25/2012 10:00:00 AM GMT

What does the HP Designjet L28500 do? The 2.64m, super-wide HP Designjet L28500 Printer is the latest model in the manufacturer's range of wide-format digital inkjet machines running water-based latex inks. The machine had its international trade launch at Fespa alongside the 1.54m-wide L26500 model. It is aimed at the sign and display print business - specifically the soft signage market - but its versatility and ability to print on fabrics means it is also a good fit for the consumer market, with posters, soft furnishings and wall coverings all potential products. The printer is compatible with over 500 substrates, including vinyl, fabrics, paper, film and low-cost uncoated papers for both interior and exterior applications How does it work?"The L28500 uses the company's thermal inkjet technology and runs six water-based HP latex inks," explains Designjet and Commercial Sign & Display UK country manager Phil Oakley. "It is suitable for the production of POS, posters, light boxes, wall coverings, soft signage and vehicle graphics, as well as a range of outdoor signage that offers better durability than eco-solvent inks." It can print at resolutions of up to 1,200dpi, which the manufacturer claims will offer outdoor display permanence for up to three years if unlaminated or five years if laminated. How does it differ from the manufacturer's other models?"The L28500 is between 34% faster (on the same print width) and 70% faster (when printing at full width) than the L25500, due in part to a faster carriage speed," says Oakley. The maximum print speed of the L28500 is 40sqm/hr in four-pass mode, versus 22.8sqm/hr on the L26500; in 16-pass mode the print speed falls to 8sqm/hr and 6.3sqm/hr respectively. What is the USP of the L28500?According to Oakley, one of the machine's key USPs is its ability to handle a broader range of indoor and outdoor signage applications with better durability than eco-solvent inks. Another is its higher productivity through increased speeds. "The L28500 features HP's new double-sided printing workflow; allied with an Optical Media Advance Sensor (OMAS), this enables double-sided printing with minimal operator intervention," adds Oakley. "The OMAS controls registration automatically by locating a registration mark when the printed media is reloaded to print the reverse side." The machine features a more robust take-up reel than the original L25500 model - which has now been discontinued - with the L28500 capable of handling up to 100kg. This makes way for longer unattended operation, says HP. Ashley points out that a key USP across all HP Latex printers is the company's water-based latex ink, which combines "the best characteristics of eco-solvent inks and water-based inks". He claims users can obtain the outdoor durability and versatility on low-cost, uncoated papers that they would traditionally associate with eco-solvent inks, together with odourless prints. What training and service support is on offer?HP UK has a network of certified Designjet resellers that can assist on installation and various training options depending on the end-user's requirements. "In addition, users of the L28500 can benefit from the recently-introduced HP Latex University," says Oakley. "This is a complimentary initiative that enables users to access a broad set of resources and training materials to help boost competitiveness. They can also use it to market their green credentials." How much does it cost?The UK list price is £45,000. Under the HP trade-in scheme, customers can currently receive up to £4,000 cashback on a new L28500 when trading in an old printer. Although HP will not disclose sales targets, the firm sold over 50 of its new latex Designjet L28500 and L26500 printers following a successful ‘golden ticket' promotion to raise awareness of the platform. The manufacturer ran the initiative at Sign & Digital 2012, where it offered £1,000 cashback for customers investing in the new HP Designjet machines. SPECIFICATIONS Print width 2,640mmSpeed 70 sqm/hr (two-pass, bi-directional), 40sqm/hr (four-pass, bi-directional)Colours Six (CMYK, light cyan, light magenta)Price £45,000Contact HP UK 0845 605 6013 ALTERNATIVES Mimaki JV400-160LX Launched earlier this year, the 1.6m specification JV400-160LX features Mimaki's new latex ink, offers a maximum print speed of 18SQM/hr and can output at a top resolution of 900dpi. Although it features a narrower print width, the JV400 LX range uses the company's new latex ink set, which is claimed to use a low curing heat, consuming less energy and enabling the machines to print on a wider range of materials. The JV400 LX machines take advantage of Mimaki's RasterLink6 RIP software that enables the deposition of three layers of ink in one pass, including a base layer of white ink for printers that support white ink. Print width 1,610mmSpeed 900dpi: 18.1sqm/hr; 900x1,200dpi: 14.2sqm/hr; 1,200dpi: 11.9sqm/hr; Colours CMYK, LC, LM, whitePrice £28,100Contact Hybrid Services 01270 501900 Pro L4000The brand new Ricoh Pro L4000 was unveiled at Drupa 2012 and can print up to 18.1sqm/hr. There are two print widths available: 1,371mm or 1,620mm. The seven-colour machine is being targeted at environmentally conscious POS and display print businesses. The L4000 series is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications and is capable of printing on a wide range of substrates, including PVC, coated-paper and textiles. Print width 1,371mm or 1,620mmSpeed Up to 18.1sqm/hrColours CMYK, LC, LM, whitePrice TBCContact Ricoh UK 0845 744 5565
Me & my... RedTie RTT W2P system
5/18/2012 10:00:00 AM GMT

So, if you have 55 different franchisees all using different printers with different stock and each one has his or her own idea of what a promotional leaflet should look like and, crucially, where the logo should go and what colours should be used, you have a problem. This, reports James Taylor, managing director of commercial printers Pressision, used to be an all-too familiar situation for some of his clients. While the Leeds-based printer could ensure that all the materials it supplied conformed strictly to a company's branding criteria, there was no telling what an individual franchisee of its client might be doing with a different printer. "People would go out and get a thousand leaflets done and design them themselves and just stick the logo on here, there and everywhere," says Taylor. "But you can't do that because with a franchise the brand is the value - we help to sustain that brand." A solution was at hand, however, to help both the clients achieve brand uniformity and Pressision increase its work volumes: web-to-print (W2P). A W2P system acting as a one-stop shop is perfect for protecting branding, explains Taylor, as it allows users to personalise an item to their particular branch, but not to transgress branding rules. Brand guidelines are strict"An employee can go on and change the information to convey ‘I'm the Leeds branch and I want to give a 10% discount', but the layout and the brand guidelines are strict and stay the same," says Taylor. "You can also have it set up so that artwork can't go to print without a certain authority - a store manager for example - signing off a proof." W2P also enables an easier transaction for the customer than if they were ordering in a more traditional way, as they can order 24/7. "It's good for small business owners because they can manage an order out of hours," he says. "The director is usually trying to juggle a million things, so instead of having to order within office hours like normal, they can sit back in a chair with a glass of wine and do their order on their iPad when they have more time." But confident as Pressision was three years ago that a W2P system would help clients in this way, the company was still wary of investing a hefty sum upfront. This was the main reason it went with W2P developer RedTie, reports Taylor, explaining that the company's RTT product is a web-based system where, instead of an upfront charge to own the package and purchase hardware, a monthly click fee is charged according to the number of products sold. "The risk with actually purchasing the software and hardware is that, if it doesn't work out, it's a lot of money to throw away," says Taylor. "With this system you only pay for what you use, and in fact the system is still cost effective even though we're using it a lot. We've not got any plans to look at another package." RedTie Template (RTT) combines a user-friendly webstore platform with a set of product and webstore customisation tools. Each webstore can be branded to your customers' corporate colours and RTT can be used to create any number of products for sale, such as marketing materials, print collateral and merchandise. Each product can be optionally set to allow personalisation by your customers, either in the text or the images used, which offers the ability to offer a marketing message at global level but targeted locally. It also means you can protect the corporate brand image by only allowing your customers' employees to make changes that your customer wants them to make. The software enables unlimited web stores, unlimited users and unlimited products, which the company says means printers can grow into the system. Taylor is now very glad he went with RedTie for other reasons besides the financial model. The business development support is excellent, he reports, with RedTie happy to join Pressision at pitches when they have advanced to the stage of meetings company directors. "RedTie has given us a lot of support for that," says Taylor. "That's important because customers don't just wake up of a morning and think ‘I need to buy a W2P solution'. They need to be told what it can do and how it can make them savings, and the only way you can do that is by presenting and demonstrating it." RedTie also provides excellent back-up for the creation of products and template rules, says Taylor. There's an extra charge for this, so Pressision tends to try and create templates in house, but it's handy to have this option, he says. "If you do it yourself, that's the more cost-effective route but you can't always fit it in, if you're creating 100 products for a customer, for example," he says. And RedTie has certainly been helpful in ensuring that Pressision does have the know-how to create the majority of templates in-house, says Taylor. The software company offers three types of training and Pressision has taken advantage of each, receiving in-person training for three staff as well as the sales team, utilising webinar training and regularly referring to RedTie's online academy tutorial videos. Such thorough training is required, says Taylor, for getting the most out of this sophisticated package. "You can pick the basics up within a few days but it takes a lot longer to learn the more complicated stuff," he says. "It's an ongoing learning process for us. There's the mail-merge side to the site where you can upload databases and merge the products and that's a bit more complex to get to grips with." RedTie has also impressed Pressision with the reliability of the RTT package. "We've not really had any downtime," says Taylor. "Occasionally there'll be a bit, but it nearly always happens on a weekend. RedTie is always developing and updating things." Efficient W2P systemHaving linked the system with Pressision's MIS system, Taylor is happy with his RedTie solution. Installing an efficient W2P system that customers find easy to use has allowed him to staff more economically, gain more work and know with more surety what will be coming through the door from one week to the next. "There's much more security when someone has a W2P contract with us," says Taylor. "If you've not got that system and people are just randomly ringing up, you don't know whether they're going to stop ringing up and leave you with a load of extra stock. "And the big benefit is that most customers will sign up to a three-year contract to use the W2P system with us." Because of this security, Pressision can now print stock items in quiet periods, printing them much more cheaply and so pricing more competitively, says Taylor. "We'll produce 100,000 leaflets and store them, so obviously the unit cost when people buy 1,000 is very low," he says. "We foil block in-house, so, what we do with the letterheads is foil block massive batches and then overprint the personalised details on a digital machine as the job orders come in. That means customers get foil-blocked items for a third of the price they would elsewhere." The system also enables Pressision to keep a record of past transactions and so better predict what stock to print. "You can see trends, so you can look at the past 12 months' spend and decide what stock levels to hold," explains Taylor. Pressision is a model case study, then, of how an SaaS W2P system can be successfully implemented. While it offers brand security to the client, it also gives the printer increased volumes; for both the process is more efficient and therefore more profitable. SPECIFICATIONSCompatibility Computer/operating-system agnosticReporting Full reporting available from orders/job tracking and further management information - all can be exported into MS ExcelDigital asset management Unlimited web stores includedOption to add apps Yes, systems can be tailored with workflow and client-facing apps, such as user-interface alterations or a live -chat optionPrice £350 per month, plus training fee and file download feeContact RedTie 01604 702075 COMPANY PROFILEPressision was set up almost 10 years ago and, with a managing director at the helm with a background in graphic design, it specialises in protecting brand integrity. The company offers a wide range of services including six-colour litho, digital and wide-format printing. With in-house foil blocking and letterpress services, Pressision is also able to offer fine art pieces and high-end brochure work. Why it was bought...Pressision spotted the opportunity three years ago to further enhance the brand security they already prided themselves on, by investing in a W2P system for clients with franchises. The company chose the RedTie Template (RTT) solution because, as an SaaS package, it required no hefty upfront investment but rather a monthly pay-as-you go fee. How it has performed...The RTT system has performed very well, reports managing director James Taylor, with very little downtime. The company has been very impressed with the service support given, including RedTie experts on-hand to attend high-level pitches to Pressision customers.
Star product: Xerox D Series
5/18/2012 10:00:00 AM GMT

What is the D-Series and when was it launched? The D-Series is a new range of mono digital printers that are available in five configurations: the D95, D110 and D125 models, which combine copying and print functionality; and the D110 and D125 as solely light production printers. The machines had their worldwide launch on 2 March, before being officially launched in the UK on 2 April. Xerox demonstrated the D-Series at this year's Drupa. What does the D-Series do? The machines in the D-Series offer print speeds of up to 125ppm and include an integrated controller along with a wide range of inline finishing options. They also offer multiple feeding and paper-handling options to boost productivity. Xerox product manager Ian Mitchell says: "The D-series is replacing our 4112 and 4127 machines and is suitable for 45,000-450,000 impressions per month. "The difference with the new machines is that the D-series has a higher productivity rate, with single-pass colour scanning functionality of up to 200 images per minute compared to 100 images per minute for the older machines. "Another major difference is that the inline finishing options have been expanded to include trimming, booklet-making, saddle-stitching and binding." Customers can also specify the printer with one of a range of digital front ends that include the Xerox FreeFlow print server or its EX Print server, which is powered by EFI Fiery. How do the machines work? The D-series printers have high-speed print engines along with a single-pass, colour dual-head scanner that scans at speeds of up to 200 images per minute and can simultaneously scan, RIP and print. They include a 250-sheet automatic document feeder and a "Build Job" feature than enables users to create and save jobs with different and varying options. Each segment of a Build Job can have different copy settings such as colour, page size and resolution, which can be programmed into each segment of the job. The job is printed out after each segment is programmed and scanned. What markets is it aimed at? The series of mono digital printers is aimed at organisations such as educational establishments and commercial print businesses. Mitchell says: "The D-series has been designed to increase productivity and reduce costs in print-intensive environments such as in education, legal, insurance and healthcare and in-house printers." What is its USP? Xerox promises that the D-series can "increase productivity, reduce costs and exceed customers' demanding expectations" by enabling printers to choose their print speed, server options and media feeding and finishing capabilities. Mitchell says: "The Xerox D95, D110 & D125 are fast, flexible and easy to use. They can produce innovative, more complex, diverse and professional output, all at a competitive price." The D-Series uses the Xerox-exclusive Emulsion Aggregation (EA) Toner, which the manufacturer claims results in "the smallest, most uniformly shaped particles" for "razor-sharp" line work. Xerox says EA Toner enables the highest levels of detailing with sharp text and half-tones and deep, solid blacks. How much does it cost? Pricing of the D Series depends on configuration, but starts at around £16,000. What training and support is available? Xerox says that customers will be supported by Xerox's fleet of engineers who will fix issues on site, along with online training and a dedicated customer support centre. SPECIFICATIONSSpeed 95, 110 or 125ppmResolution Up to 2,400x2,400dpi with halftone screenSubstrate compatibility Up to SRA3 253gsmPrice From £16,000Contact Xerox UK 0870 873 4519 ALTERNATIVESRicoh Pro 1107EXPThe Ricoh Pro 1107EXP offers full-colour scanning with a wide choice of in-line finishing options. It features an entry-level, user-friendly embedded controller that does not require extensive training and is tailored to the needs of a high-volume work environment and enables the creation of print jobs in a few short steps. The machine also includes an Adobe PostScript 3 option to ensure fast and reliable output and an external Fiery controller EB-1357 which rips PDF files at high speeds. Speed 110ppmResolution 1,200dpiRicoh imaging technology substrate compatibility Up to SRA3 300gsm-42gsm, supports coated paper, labels and NCR paper- 3,000 sheet paper capacity (expandable to 8,050 sheets from seven sources), full-speed rayless duplex, extensive range of professional in-line finishing optionsPrice RRP £50,655Contact Ricoh UK 0800 90 40 90 Océ VarioPrint 110, 120 and 135The Océ VarioPrint DP Line family of monochrome digital printers comprises three models offering a range of different output speeds from 95ppm to 135ppm and is designed for the production of books, manuals, booklets and training collateral. The new platform combines Océ's print engine and controller with Canon's integrated scanning and finishing technology. According to Océ, the VarioPrint DP is designed to address the mono print demands of commercial print businesses and in-plant facilities. Speed 113, 123 and 138 images per minute (A4, duplex)Resolution 600 x 2,400 dpiUnique Océ DirectPress imaging technology substrate compatibility 50-300gsm. Plain, offset and coated stocks.Price List price from £25,000, depending upon configurationContact

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