Superfast Labels has been coy about announcing too early that it has installed the UK’s first Epson SurePress L-6034VW printer but, after just six months of successful production, it says this UV inkjet press is critical to its continued growth. In the past five years it has nearly doubled its turnover to about £1.8 million.
It has switched from a 100% flexo operation to an 80-20% split in favour of digital production. It has switched from four Nilpeter presses to three Epson printers and one Nilpeter.
‘It was always our plan to realign the company with the UK label market by finding a balance between traditional and new technologies,’ said Andrew Miller, managing director. ‘The introduction of the Epson digital label presses has allowed us to achieve this ahead of schedule with both company security and customer approval far beyond what was expected.’
The transition started in 2012 with the installation of the UK’s first SurePress L-4033A which has subsequently been joined in its unit by a L-4033AW, both six colour aqueous printers but the latest featuring white which allows the company to handle film and metallic as well as paper based stocks.
‘It is fair to say that the quality of output, reliability and the physical fit of the machine were our top priorities when we first chose to go the Epson route,’ said Andrew. ‘The CMYK with orange and green allows us to reproduce virtually every Pantone colour and hexachrome. We also replicate silver and gold foil colours – a great selling point for all point of sale markets.
‘These have been fantastic machines and our partnership with Epson has been really effective, enhancing our reputation for innovation and quality.’
With business booming at Superfast Labels, at the turn of the year it was looking for even more capacity to meet the demand from designers and brand owners for a wide range of labels, including those for media, food, pet food, drinks and manufacturing. It turned to Epson, the only supplier who could offer both aqueous and UV labels presses.
The UV inkjet SurePress L-6034VW was attractive in enabling it to handle a wider range of label applications, flexibly and productively and to really top quality. It rattles through work and has allowed the company to handle longer runs. Together the three Epson presses have output a total of over 27,000 jobs.
‘The L-6034VW always prints at one speed, its top speed, across any substrate. It has opaque white as well but what was new for us was the UV digital varnish and the ability to produce matt and gloss effects on the same label as well as some incredible tactile features. When used to its real potential this is a real game changer and is turning heads.’
‘We specifically offer designers printed samples of the standard design of their job and then show them how we can work together to enhance it and they are astonished and impressed. They are really buying into the potential of this UV digital varnishing and tactile feature. We have also done some design experiments with Epson to see just how far this technology could go. By engaging with customers at design stage we win hearts and loyalty,’ added Andrew.
The typical run range on the SurePress L-4033 is between 30 and 200 linear metres – perfect for short run digital – but on the new press it is over 250 metres. All full colour work at the plant is now handled on the Epsons with the Nilpeter handling some of the spot colour jobs, depending on the artwork.
Operating in tandem with the Epsons are three GM finishing lines and Andrew is very impressed with them. The latest, which came in almost concurrently with the SurePress L-6035VW, can UV varnish, laminate die-cut, strip and batch labels ready for delivery.
‘A converter who fails to adopt digital printing options will struggle for survival. The labels market requires innovators and adapters and those who hold on to old technology and do not adapt their business to the demands for shorter runs, stand out quality and effects and top service levels will be uncompetitive. That is only possible with the latest digital printing equipment,’ he said.