Not every company needs the benefits of special colours and effects in its wide-format printer, and Washington-based Discount Vehicle Lettering Company is a classic example of a business which relies on fast, regular and reliable output. When the Roland VersaCAMM VS-640 was brought to market, it wasn't the metallic and white option which appealed to this North East display specialist but, instead, it was the 1.62m width and its ability to produce dual CMYK with precision contour cutting.
Directors Mark and Helen Taylor are the brains behind the cannily named DVLC and its specialist services to the UK's motor trade. The company was formed 14 years ago to cater for growing popularity of vehicle graphics and liveries and this incorporates computer-cut vinyl applications as well as full-colour digital print. Steady growth has seen business grow and, when investment into new technology has become essential, the acquisition of the right machines has enabled increased production to take place seamlessly.
A devotee of Roland DG's systems for many years, DVLC has been using a SolJet Pro III XC-540 for the production of colourful and durable print-and-cut designs which are used to decorate every type of vehicle, from a single car through fleets of vans, to trailers and other modes of transport. This is complemented by showroom and forecourt point-of-sale applications, such as pop-up and roll-up banners, posters, window graphics and virtually every other type of display likely to be used by the motor trade.
Short-term displays for special events, such as sales promotions and special offers, can be designed and created along with longer life, durable applications which are able to handle the tough life to which vehicles are subjected on an every-day basis. Larger motor groups, agencies and fleet customers have become so accustomed to DVLC's impeccable service and fast turn-round that many now rely on the company's dedicated on-line ordering system which allows clients to order new and replacement graphics quickly and efficiently.
Because of the growth in demand for DVLC's full-colour applications, in the spring of 2010 the company recognised that it needed to invest in an additional print-and-cut solution to maintain its turn-round and delivery criteria. As important as the quality of print was the accuracy in cutting, and both these essentials have now been realised since the purchase of the Roland VersaCAMM VS-640.
The generous 1.62m width of this combined print-and-cut is deceptive because of its compact footprint, and its space-saving attributes are complemented by low running costs and ability to run unattended. Knowing the high standards of Roland quality from its earlier unit, DVLC recognised that CMYK was more than adequate for its needs and decided to invest in the dual CMYK version of the machine.
Print quality is only part of the story at DVLC, however, as Mark Taylor explains: "As well as being able to rely on consistent and accurate colour at the highest throughput speeds, absolutely vital to us is that the machine can cut accurately. A combination printer/cutter needs to be able to maintain the highest tolerances, even on long rolls of media. There would be nothing worse than printing a job only to find that the cutting hasn't maintained the correct registration in the production cycle.
"When we went to try out the Roland VersaCAMM VS-640 with Roland's partner, Signmaster, we really put the machine through its paces by giving it the most difficult samples to print and cut," Taylor continues. "No matter how demanding we were with our test files, the unit refused to let us down and maintained the finest tolerances throughout. Its performance was outstanding and we decided, there and then, that this was the right machine for our company."
Helen Taylor comments on some of the other advantages that DVLC has discovered since installing the VS-640. "Because we print bi-directionally using dual CMYK, we're able to output many jobs in what is essentially a draft mode, resulting in very fast throughput rates," she says. "The new arrangement of the print-head and inks in this machine means there's no banding even at the highest speed and lowest resolution, with solid vibrant colours and smooth graduated tints. The time savings are significant, with no compromise on end quality."
"We also find the life of the cartridges is astonishing," Mark Taylor emphasises. "Unlike some ink-jet printers which appear to run out when they're far from being empty, the VS-640's options continue until the ink has genuinely been exhausted. The savings we've noticed are considerable, and we wouldn't be surprised if the vertical cartridge design is partly responsible for this."
Since its launch, the modestly-priced yet highly advanced Roland VersaCAMM VS-640 wide-format print-and-cut solution has been joined by three narrower models, the VS-540 (1.37m), the VS-420 (1.06m) and the VS-300 (762mm). All of these versatile solutions are available in three versions of CMYKLcLm plus metallic and white, standard six-colour (CMYKLcLm) and dual CMYK.
"The flexibility in configurations of our VersaCAMM VS series is demonstrated clearly with the machine in daily use at Discount Vehicle Lettering Company. Quality, high speed output of CMYK is matched by exacting tolerances for precision contour-cutting," states Mat Drake, print product manager at Roland DG (UK). "Although we are amazed at the innovative results being created with the metallic and white ink models, we don't want to over-shadow the fact that this system is also absolutely perfect in environments where reliable four-colour print-and-cut is the order of the day."