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Inca appoints resellers in Italy and Russia for SpyderX hybrid printer

Written by Colin Gillman on Tuesday, 17 January 2017.

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Inca Digital has further expanded its global sales network for the Inca SpyderX hybrid printer by appointing specialist resellers in Italy and Russia.

Sales and support in Italy will be handled by SMG SPA, a specialist graphic arts supplier with over 20 years’ experience representing major brands such as Fuji, Kodak, Xerox, Toyo Ink, Roland and Pressmax in the graphic arts and related markets. 

In Russia, AT DESIGN has added the SpyderX to an already impressive line-up of distributorships. Headquartered in Moscow, AT DESIGN has 14 regional offices and over 150 personnel in sales, service, application and engineering roles. Its customers operate in a wide range of industries — graphics, textiles, packaging and industrial — and use a variety of technologies — wide-format, single-pass inkjet, screen and flexo.

The SpyderX is aimed at POS print companies looking for a high-quality, production-level printer to produce a wide range of rigid and flexible products. The 6-colour+white SpyderX uses Inca ink, features both 3.2m-wide flatbed and roll-fed capacity, and delivers high-speed production (230 sqm/hr) production with sharp, pinpoint accuracy.

SMG SPA and AT DESIGN join an impressive line-up of SpyderX resellers that already included Perfect Colours (UK), Digital HiRes (Spain) and Schneidler Grafiska (Sweden).


Keeping up with customer needs is the key to business longevity for this digital printer

Written by Colin Gillman on Tuesday, 17 January 2017.

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With the average lifespan of a company reported to be as little as 10 years it is no surprise that businesses seek to adapt to the ever changing external environment as they strive to not only prosper but to actually survive.

And the external challenges are becoming harsher and harsher with business facing increasing pressures due to economic, political, and social turbulence on the world stage. So what is the secret to a long and successful business life and exactly how easy is it to extend the life-cycle when competitors fail?

Paul Reeve, managing director at Structure-flex Ltd, believes his company has remained in business for over 45 years because it has kept the customers’ needs right at the heart of its operations.

“Structure-flex has always had a strong customer ethic,” he says. “Since the company’s inception in 1970, we have strived to produce high quality products manufactured to meet the specific requirements of our customers. 

“These requirements have changed over the years so we have evolved to ensure that those requirements are met as precisely and efficiently as possible whether that be; investing in the latest technology, moving operations to larger facilities, or developing services such as creative design.”

Structure-flex has been a leading manufacturer of high quality tension lorry curtains since the product was first invented and has continued to provide an increasing range of innovative technical products for the commercial vehicle industry ever since. 

Its relocation in 2015 to a bespoke 50,000 sq ft factory, combined with ongoing investment in modern state of the art high frequency and hot air welding equipment, now provides the manufacturer with the largest capacity digital print side curtain manufacturing facility in the UK.

But it is a journey that hasn’t always been smooth, as Paul explains: “We knew we wanted quality from the outset, but the challenge has always been how to deliver it. 

“Supply partners didn’t really understand the demands of the market quickly enough, especially in the early days, so there was a big learning curve for us around the print process and how to deliver a standard that met expectations at an affordable price. 

“We now only work with supply partners, like printing press manufacturer EFI, who understand the business and are able to support us in providing the highest quality that we insist on for our customers.”

In order to consistently deliver the highest quality Structure-flex has invested millions of pounds over the years to constantly update its equipment and take advantage of the latest developments in printing technology.

Superlife Miller and on paper resizedIn the early days of the company’s existence, designs and images on curtainsiders were created using large tracings that were marked with small holes and then pounced with chalk. The chalk marks provided a pinline for the sign-writers to follow but it was labour-intensive and only allowed for single use.

For sharper images and repeatability, the company moved to pre-cut vinyl forms and lettering but signwriting still remained hand applied until around 1999. Pre-cut adhesive masking sheets were positioned on the curtain on which there was a knife cut outline of the livery, this was then ‘weeded out’ from the sheet allowing the specialist ink to be brushed over like a large stencil. 

“This was a key moment for us,” says Reeve. “The move away from chalk pouncing dramatically improved reproduction and standardisation of image application and, of course, factory cleanliness. It started to raise the bar for quality graphics on curtainsiders and marked the beginning of a new market for Structure-flex.”

The most significant change for the company came, though, when superwide format digital printing became available. Although large format printing was well established in the sign industry in the late 90's it was generally only used for static applications in the USA, the machines were expensive, and the substrate materials were unsuitable for printing curtainsiders.

To meet a growing interest in large static signs in the UK a number of companies, including Structure-flex, invested in early versions of US machines. By 2004 the company had investigated the potential for low cost overseas manufacture in the Czech Republic where it established a factory and invested in its first wide format printer, a Gandinnovations Jeti capable of printing 3m wide. 

Starting its wide format printing in the Czech Republic rather than nearer to home, however, lengthened the learning curve for the business and nine years later Structure-flex withdrew from offshore manufacture, investing in a second Jeti machine but this time in the UK.

“Superwide format digital print has certainly been the biggest change in our manufacturing process,” admitted Reeve. “The output ability of digital printers, compared to traditional signwriting and drying methods, is far superior and requires significantly less factory space.

“As the business has grown, the investment in digital printers has enabled livery production to remain in tune with curtain manufacture. Very few curtains now leave without a graphical element as designers take advantage of the creative possibilities digital print offers at more reasonable costs than available historically.

“Around four years ago we invested in a Durst Rho 320HS printer and, more recently, another EFI Vutek Structure flex Print Room resizedGS5000R both of which have white ink options that enable printing directly onto pre-coloured media. This saw the end of an era on the older traditional methods, which was a massive change in our operational approach.

“Although this technology undeniably represents a significant investment, to remain at the forefront of the market it has been crucial to continually improve our digital printing performance, not only in terms of the process itself but also the materials and inks used. 

“In comparison to the smaller Mimaki printers we operate, the learning curve on superwide printing was steep. We now operate in a different way to those early years and have an environmentally controlled dedicated print room, in-house colour management and profiling, as well as a preventative maintenance schedule.”

As the process became more complex, Structure-flex faced other challenges around the manipulation of artwork and colour profiling. More detailed liveries also increased the risk of making errors and consequently customer services became at the centre of the business offering to help create tailor-made solutions and avoid any potential issues with clients.

Innovation has also been vital in extending the company life-cycle. At Structure-Flex’s inception, the product range consisted of large bulk bags used in the Middle East oil and gas industries, and soon the company progressed to manufacturing curtainsiders. 

Structure flex Print Room 1 resizedOver the years, the company has taken advantage of enhancements in curtain materials and widths, ranges of ink colours, designs in buckles and rollers, security features, as well as insulation options. Systems such as its Reflex and Smoothside curtains have been popular partly due to the ability for the entirety of the full digitally printed curtain to be seen without any buckles interrupting the design.

“Through innovation, we have evolved into far more than a digital printer and offer significantly more than simply curtainsiders,” Reeve explained. “Structure-flex’s origins are with entrepreneurial packaging engineer, David Frankel, who obtained the worldwide licence to manufacture and distribute the Original Big Bag.

“He worked closely with European PVC coated fabric producers and machine builders to achieve the optimum performance from High Frequency welding technology to deliver a product which met very demanding criteria in extreme climatic conditions.

“We still offer the Original Big Bag today, along with fleet graphics for rigid vehicles, full or partial vehicle wraps, banners, and building wraps, and have recently been accredited as a 3M Select Gold Partner, one of only eight in the country, following an in-depth audit of our facility and external assessment verification.”

So, how is Structure-flex looking to prosper in the next 45 years? “Continue what we do best,” says Reeve. “Produce the highest quality products at competitive costs supported by great customer services, and innovate where possible to keep at the forefront of the market.”


Hybrid Services to show new flatbed small format UV printer at Printwear show

Written by Colin Gillman on Tuesday, 10 January 2017.

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Mimaki’s UK & Irish distributor Hybrid Services is returning to the Printwear and Promotion exhibition, which runs from 26th – 28th February 2017 at the NEC, to give the new Mimaki UJF MkII LED UV small format flatbed printer its first UK public outing.

Printwear & Promotion Live will see Hybrid showing Mimaki’s latest wide format and direct to object printing technology, which is ideal for producing promotional products, personalised gifts and high quality bespoke items. The new Mimaki UJF MkII series was released late last year and Hybrid says it has received high interest levels with printers keen to make use of its increased productivity, photo quality prints and a fist full of other new features.

Also featuring on stand J32 will be the Mimaki CJV150 series wide format printer/cutters, which are suitable for garment marking, printing banners, canvas prints and vehicle graphics as well as cutting stickers and coloured vinyl. There will also be examples of output from Mimaki’s dye sub solutions for applications including sportswear and fashion available on the stand.

As well as showcasing the latest digital printing and cutting technology from Mimaki, Hybrid will be supporting several of its specialist textile and dye sublimation resellers who are also exhibiting at the event, showcasing a range of products from across Mimaki’s portfolio.


Mimaki adds rotary Kebab option on new UJF UV flatbed printers for cylindrical printing

Written by Colin Gillman on Tuesday, 13 December 2016.

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Mimaki has announced that it is making its popular Kebab option available for the new UJF-3042MkII and UJF-6042MkII; its latest generation of UV flatbed printers. Using rotary rollers, the innovative device enables high quality printing on cylindrical products with diameters from 10mm to 110mm, including wine and water bottles, seals, candles, cosmetics bottles and more, making it possible and affordable to produce on-demand original products in short or even individual runs.

The Kebab option has historically enabled Mimaki customers to be highly creative, opening up new business and revenue streams in sectors such as the cosmetics industry, where regulatory requirements differ between countries. It also makes one-off, direct-print labelling affordable; be it for a personalised product or as a gift. Mimaki also highlights the wine bottle sector as a growth area with commemorative and celebratory personalised prints proving popular.

“Our customers have been very creative in their use of the Kebab option,” says Mike Horsten, General Manager Marketing of Mimaki EMEA. “And for many, it has opened up new businesses and new revenue streams. Cosmetics bottles are a good example. With the many different regulatory requirements from country to country, short runs of cosmetics bottles are becoming more common. In addition, the Kebab option makes it very affordable to produce one-off direct-print labelling. This could be a personalised bottle or a bottle memorialising a special event to be used as a gift item. Printing directly to wine bottles is also popular; consider a wedding or another special event where wine bottles can be personalised to the event. Both Mimaki and our customers are very excited about the possibilities this offers, and that is why we are adding the Kebab option to our newest generation of printers.”

The new UJF-3042MkII and UJF-6042MkII printers feature print speeds that are 20% faster than its predecessors. These machines, like most printers from Mimaki, also have the ability to use different types of inks, thus supporting a very wide range of applications. 

In addition to the durable inks that adhere well to glass and other substrates taking advantage of the Kebab option, LUS-120 inks can also be used for printing on soft material surfaces such as membrane switches or wallet smartphone cases, since they can stretch up to 170% without cracking when pressed or folded. Moreover, the LH-100 rigid inks are perfect for accessories or stationery products that have to withstand high levels of abrasion. These inks, when used with Mimaki’s PR-200 inkjet primer, are also an excellent choice for printing on glass, metal and resins, which has traditionally been difficult for UV-curable inks. With Mimaki Clear Control (MCC), the clear varnish can be used to both highlight areas with spot or flood coating, as well as to deliver embossing with multiple passes.


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Mimaki looks set to lay it out for visitors at FESPA Eurasia

Written by Colin Gillman on Friday, 02 December 2016.

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Mimaki is set to present its range of solvent and UV printers, designed to address key print production needs, on two booths at FESPA Eurasia from December 8-11 at the CNR Expo in Istanbul, Turkey.

“The Mimaki portfolio has so much to offer to all operations looking to better address their customer needs,” says Mike Horsten, Mimaki’s general manager Marketing EMEA. “We wanted the most popular solutions to be accessible to the right audiences in a quick and easy way. Having two locations at this very important show was the ideal solution. This will ensure we have the right experts on hand to effectively address attendees’ business-specific questions.” 

According to Mimaki a highlight in Hall 2 will be the 3.2-meter-wide SIJ-320UV UV LED roll-to-roll inkjet printer. The company says this is ideal for signage media, including PVC and other banner materials, and runs at up to 110m2/h. It will be shown with Mimaki’s LUS-120 high performance UV curable inks and a new soft-media transportation kit that reduces creasing and stabilises the media flow.

This location will also feature UV flatbed printers in all sizes, including the recently launched Mimaki UJF-3042 MkII with LH100 UV ink that prints on flat surfaces, acrylic and aluminium compound boards. The wider version, the Mimaki UJF-6042 MkII, will also be on display. Mimaki says this printer delivers best-in-class print speed with good ink adhesion to acrylics and many other materials, including glass, metal and resins. It will run with LUS-120 UV-LED inks, designed for durability with excellent stretchability and scratch resistance.

For operations that produce a wide variety of applications, the Mimaki UJF-7151plus UV inkjet flatbed printer can print on a broad array of objects, including promotional items, personalised giftware, small to medium format signage and control panels. Also on show in Hall 2 will be the Mimaki JFX200-2513 printer with LUS-150 UV curable ink in CMYK, white and clear. Visitors will be able to see how Mimaki’s unique clear ink can also add texture for even more compelling products.

In addition, Mimaki’s latest solvent printers will also be on display. The CJV300-130/160 inkjet printer/cutter will deliver simultaneous print and cut operations at a print speed of up to 105.9 m2/h and the functional entry-level Mimaki CJV150 inkjet printer/cutter at up to 56.2 m2/h. The Mimaki JV150 and JV300-160 inkjet printers, which are available in solvent and sublimation models, will show how to create a wide range of print applications, including indoor decorations, posters, shop or event decorations and vehicle-wrapping.

For quick, simple and cost-effective finishing of short runs there will be Mimaki’s CFL-605RT flatbed cutting plotter. The compact, multifunctional solution is ideal for cutting a wide range of media of up to 10mm thick, including PET, foam boards or paper, using various cutting functions.

In Hall 4 stand G10 Mimaki will address the need in the textiles and apparel industries for cost-effective short runs or samples with its Tx300P-1800B 1.8-meter-wide printer and Tiger-1800B direct-to-textile high-speed inkjet printer.

The Tx300P-1800B’s unique design makes it suitable for printing on a wide variety of fabrics, including bulky textured materials as well as sheer fabric and stretchy materials such as knits. Mimaki says printing with its TP400 textile pigment inks eliminates the need for steaming or washing, reducing the space required for on-demand textile printing.

“We are seeing a growing demand from consumers for more customised fabrics for home and fast fashion uses,” adds Horsten. “To support this trend, our solutions must be able to operate with an increasingly wider range of materials and formats. Our customers want to be able to produce these digitally printed fabrics on demand, cost-effectively and to a very high standard of quality. Both the flexibility of our solutions and the quality of our inks play a vital role in delivering the consistent reliability required to meet demand for faster time to market without any compromise in quality.”

Creative sign and display as well as industrial capabilities will be the focus of Booth C30 in Hall 2, while the latest possibilities in the textile world will be presented in Booth G10 in Hall 4. PIMMS Group, Mimaki’s distributor in Turkey, will also be hosting its visitors at the Mimaki booth in Hall 2, stand C30.


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About Mimaki Europe


Mimaki Europe B.V., established in Amsterdam in 2004, is responsible for the Sales, Marketing, Logistics, Administration and Technical Services through distributors and resellers for all European countries, including Russia and North Africa.

With warehouses in Rotterdam and Diemen, we supplies products to the above mentioned business regions. Mimaki Europe B.V. is a fully owned subsidiary of Mimaki Engineering Co. Ltd. (President: H. Kobayashi) Nagano (Japan).

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