Fine Cut forges ahead with UK’s first Impala LED
Speciality printer Fine Cut is the first UK print er to invest in the new swissQprint Impala LED printer, supplied and installed by Spandex, the exclusive UK distributor for swissQprint.
The new 2.5 × 2 metre printer, configured for six colours (CMYK, LC, LM) plus white, primer and varnish, is already in operation at the company’s production site in Lancing, West Sussex. It is used to produce a broad range of precision industrial applications for clients in the medical, automotive, marine and agricultural sectors, as well as more conventional signage and graphics work.
The Impala LED has replaced Fine Cut’s original swissQprint Impala UV printer, which had been in service since early 2012 when the company made its first foray into large format digital print production. The opportunity to transition to LED curing was the primary driver for Fine Cut’s decision this year to upgrade to the next generation printer.
Digital print manager Simon Tourle explained, ‘While the original Impala exceeded all our expectations of digital output quality, UV curing still presented limitations for high precision work on more challenging substrates, due to the media distortion caused by the high temperature curing process.’
Installed by Spandex UK in October, the new printer hit the ground running, and the Fine Cut team quickly got to grips with the new model, which is now running non stop for eight to nine hours a day, with split shifts when necessary to cope with volume peaks.
The commercial impact of the latest investment has been felt immediately. ‘The new Impala LED has delivered a noticeable step up in speed, thanks to acceleration of the printing process itself and the LED curing, which removes the need for warm up and cool down cycles between jobs,’ explained Simon. ‘Our flatbed productivity has more than doubled.’
Over six years of working with the swissQprint Impala printers, Fine Cut has valued Spandex’s technical and applications expertise in service and support of the printers and inks. ‘The Spandex team has been extremely responsive to our needs, showing great interest in how we work with the Impala and helping us to get the best from the technology,’ added Simon.
The output quality from the Impala has been the decisive factor in Fine Cut’s transition from its heritage in screen printing to digital. According to Simon, the team kept an eye on developments from the early days of digital wide format technology but, until the launch of the first generation Impala in 2010, they had not seen a digital flatbed solution that met their exacting standards for colour accuracy and consistency. They were stunned by the quality of printed samples from the Impala. An impression that was reinforced by a visit to the swissQprint manufacturing plant in Switzerland where they were shown the wide range of print possibilities that could be achieved with the press.
In practice, Fine Cut found that the Impala could actually surpass the quality achievable with the screen process, enabling them to achieve photographic quality prints on virtually any substrate including many that were historically screen printed. ‘Our clients absolutely appreciate the exceptional quality we can deliver with this digital press, ‘ said Simon.
Alongside its digital production solutions, Fine Cut maintains a strong screen line up for printing true metallic and conductive inks. With a diverse base of prestige customers, Fine Cut values the versatility to print on an array of materials and handle a range of bespoke requirements. The original Impala printer enabled new, custom applications that would have been uneconomical or impossible with screen; now the Impala with LED curing opens up many more potential new avenues.
‘As a business, we have always invested to stay at the forefront of the industrial print sector with a clear focus on high quality results realised by our technology choices,’ added Simon. ‘We are driven by the wish to be able to respond to any client brief, however challenging. We like to say that we can print anything on anything and with the Impala, we certainly can.’