29 Jan 2020

AJ-1000i increases versatility at Irish display producer

Inc Design and Display Roland AdvancedJet 1000i 

On paper, Inc Design and Display is a young company and a relative newcomer to the Irish display market, having been formed two and a half years ago by directors Paul Byrne and Paul Hogan. But don’t be fooled: they have a combined thirty years of experience in sign production, with talents including vehicle wraps, exhibition banners, modular signs and pop-ups.

They’re proud to count among their clients Dublin’s musical instrument mega-store, Xmusic, and the remainder of their portfolio ranges as broad as banner production and fascias. A more recent job has seen a large amount of vinyl banner produced for the high profile Taste of Dublin food festival.

Byrne and Hogan knew that growing the company rapidly could only come from strategic investment in machines that offered productivity and excellent turn-round. “We wanted to be able to compete with the best in terms of speed and quality right from the start,” explains Hogan as he remembers the first machine at Inc Design – the Roland SolJet Pro II.

The successor to the Pro II, the Pro III XC-540, handles smaller-format print-and-cut jobs at the Dublin site. Inc Design is particularly fond of the print-and-cut machine’s handling of contour cutting, making vehicle wrap production significantly easier, and eco-solvent inks mean that interior signs produced on the Pro III are odourless.

After only a few months Inc Design realised that it needed to accommodate larger-format work at a greater capacity to win bigger contracts. The business partners performed extensive research, deciding finally to stay with Roland DG because the Advanced Jet AJ-1000i offered the best throughput possible with its 2.6m width complemented by durable, high quality results. The printer was installed at their premises over Christmas 2007 and it's now in daily use for both indoor and outdoor graphics, on an ever-growing range of flexible materials.

“We looked at flat-bed technology before the purchase of the Pro III, and again when investigating the AJ-1000i, but decided that roll-to-roll was the better choice, offering more in terms of output quality and the range of compatible substrates. Additionally, this machine had a much smaller footprint and a more reasonable capital outlay,” says Byrne.

Hogan explains that investment in the Roland AJ-1000i felt like the next natural step in growing the company. “Although still a very young business, we had reached a stage where we needed to expand capacity and improve turnaround times – we knew from experience that these are the key areas in which the big contracts are won.”

The Roland AdvancedJet AJ-1000i is the larger of the company’s two machines, which are particularly suited to high-volume grand format printing for the durable graphics market. It is complemented by the 1.87m AJ-740i for users who want a narrower option. Its resolution of 720dpi produces near photo quality images and its ability to produce solid colours accurately makes it ideal for display producers and sign-makers. The ink formulation has an outdoor durability of up to 3 years, which can be extended with over-lamination where greater longevity is required.

Inc Design’s AJ-1000i has recently benefited from upgrades to its firmware and software, bringing it in line with Roland’s latest product releases. Other key updates include the newly-designed spare ink reservoir and the ability to change the calibration of the machine while it is printing. Byrne and Hogan are quick to promote that this allows for fast adjustments, reduces media waste and prevents time-consuming stopping and starting.

Amongst the first jobs that Inc Design & Display completed with its new printer was Ireland’s largest hoarding, sited at Dublin’s Belmayne housing development. A massive 3km of vinyl film was mounted on to 2.5 x 1.25m composite Dibond panels with an anti-graffiti laminate, printed in batches of up to 600 at a time. “The Belmayne job was completed in stages over a number of months in line with the development’s progress. There is no doubt that without the AJ-1000i we wouldn’t have been able to take it on,” Byrne recalls.

The automation of the RolandAdvanced Jet was a major attraction for IncDesign. Automatic maintenance and head cleaning have greatly reduced servicing and maintenance obligations, while a specialist pump keeps the flow of ink constant through the print-heads. This eliminates banding and means that cartridges can be changed ‘on the fly’.

“The combination of the AJ-1000i’s speed and the durability of its EcoXtreme solvent-based ink is spectacular and its colour accuracy is superb, with easy Pantone matching when required. My favourite aspect of the machine is that it can operate unattended,” highlights Hogan. “We’ve left it printing overnight on occasion - we load up a 100 metre roll of paper and come back in the morning to find the job completed, no problem.”

The AJ-1000i's heavy-duty take-up system supports rolls weighing up to 100Kg, and Roland’s proprietary six-colour EcoXtreme inks include light cyan and light magenta for a wider gamut. The machine is happy working with a wide range of coated and uncoated media for durable, long-life graphics, and has a maximum throughput of 90 sq m/hour.

“Its size and speed have opened up new doors for us and the AJ-1000i is now a core part of our business and production strategy. Both of our Roland machines are highly reliable and obviously well built, but engineers are on hand should we need them. With these two printers there isn’t much we can’t do – big or small,” boasts Byrne.

Progress doesn’t stop here for Inc Design, tactical expansion is again on the agenda, with Byrne and Hogan already considering future development, including perhaps personalisation and Variable Data work for promotional items.
The main thing, Hogan concludes, is to remain versatile: “There is a wealth of opportunity out there and part of our job is to keep on top of changes in the market. It’s important to be able to meet new demands as and when they arise. With its productive and diverse technology, Roland DG has certainly earned our trust in this respect.”

Find out more, and calculate the running costs of the Roland AdvancedJet AJ-1000i printer, at www.rolandpro.co.uk

Hexis enters technical partnership with Oreca

oreca lmp1 

Hexis, manufacturer of self-adhesive vinyl films, and Oreca, the motor racing company, are entering a technical partnership with the aim of further improving the performance of the LMP1 race car (Le Mans Prototype 1). The vehicle body panels will be covered in vinyl film instead of paint for a noticeable weight reduction thus achieving fuel savings and faster laps. Several tests were carried out in 2008 and 2009 with the results pointing in that direction.

For this type of application Hexis supplies ultra-thin adhesive coated vinyl films. As the films are extremely conformable and stretchable they can be applied over curved surfaces and thus completely wrap the vehicle. The Hexis training department provides technical assistance with the application of the films onto the vehicles.

Oreca, set up in 1972, is a race car designer and constructor based in France. 2009 is their second year of participation in the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Hexis manufactures a full line of graphic vinyl and digital printing media used for sign making and vehicle markings. The company is based in Frontignan, near Montpellier, France with subsidiaries in Germany, Italy and the United States and with affiliate Hexis companies in the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK. The group exports some 40% of its turnover to over 40 countries worldwide, while enjoying sales of EUR 37.6 million in 2008.

First UK installation of FUJIFILM Acuity Advance X2 at ReproArts

Acuity Advance X2 

Norfolk based ReproArts has been in business for over 60 years, starting out as a screen printer, and in that time has seen a lot of changes in the industry. Priding itself on keeping up to date with the latest technology, not only did it install the first fully automatic Sericol screen printer in the 1970s, a serious leap into the unknown at the time, but it has recently installed the first Fujifilm Acuity Advance X2 in the UK.

Paul Hill, Production Director at ReproArts, says “We first saw the Acuity X2 in action earlier this year and placed our order at Sign and Digital UK. Although it has been a major investment for the company, we knew when we saw it that it was just what we were looking for in terms of its print area of 3.05m x 2.5 m edge to edge. That really is a massive sheet size.”

“Combined with its incredible accuracy, there was no hesitation in understanding that this machine was what we needed to achieve even better quality work than we had been offering. And the fact that it comes with a white option has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for us. For instance, we are now able to print double sided on Perspex, something that is very important to our customers.”

The Acuity Advance series uses FUJIFILM Sericol Uvijet UV inks, delivering supreme flexibility, particularly when using Uvijet white, which allows users to print a very opaque white under, over or between print layers, as ReproArts is doing, as well as directly onto dark media.

Paul continues, “Our previous roll fed machine simply couldn’t cope with heavy weight flat sheets and for double sided work the Acuity is impressively accurate, printing in exactly the right position for our Zund cutting machine to then cut the outlines.”

ReproArts has enjoyed a long standing relationship with FUJIFILM Sericol, installing the first ever ‘Sericol Sprinter’ automatic screen printing machine in the early 70s. Paul explains, “FUJIFILM Sericol has given us a fantastic level of service over the last 40 years. So, although their digital offering is relatively new, we had no qualms about going to them when we wanted to expand in this area, as we know we can trust them.”

The company has customers that range from some major restaurant chains and shopping outlets throughout the UK, to the car industry, and produces anything from window graphics, banners, in store decorations/displays to tool storage solutions. The large sheet size that the Acuity Advance X2 offers is extremely important, as the majority of the work customers are now looking for needs something capable of printing at this size. In fact, before the machine was installed, work was queuing up waiting. And the white option and the bigger print area has enabled work that couldn’t be done before to be handled.

“The large print size also means that when we are doing smaller jobs we can have one running on one side of the machine and be setting up another next to it. The machine has literally been printing all the time since the day after it was installed, and we are using it across a wide range of substrates up to its maximum depth of 48mm. I can honestly say we have no regrets at all.”

Paul continues, “We are so impressed with the quality of the work coming off the machine and the improvement in turnaround times - and it’s not just us, our customers have also commented - that we’re even thinking about making another investment.”

The Acuity Advance X2 has the same modified print head array as the Acuity Advance and incorporates greyscale print head technology to produce near-photographic quality print - unrivalled in the market today. The print area of the Advance X2 makes it the largest UV inkjet printer currently available, and it prints at a speed of 22m2/hr in production mode and 15m2/hr in high quality mode. Its additional white ink option complements the CMYK colour set.

A Greener 3D World for JKN Digital and EFI-VUTEk


Well-known not only in its local area around Preston and the north-west of the country, JKN Digital has also become established as a supplier of environmentally-friendly high quality displays and signs throughout the country, often tackling jobs which other companies are not so keen to take on. Increasingly, the business has honed the technologies it uses, with innovative and complex cardboard engineering skills being complemented by UV-curable ink-jet printing and, today, it has also become renowned for its expertise for three-dimensional applications and its successful drive to become a greener solutions’ provider.

JKN Digital was formed in 1988, specialising in the production of all types of signs and displays, and moving forward with the different technologies as they became available. The company’s use during the past few years of wide-format digital ink-jet printers has also evolved from the demand to enhance the types of work which it wanted to output and it was inevitable that a move into UV-curable flat-bed output would follow its previous investments.

As an early adopter of this technology, UV-curable output is now proving to play the major role in JKN’s portfolio of capabilities. But the company has progressed steadily on its upgrade path to make sure that the solution it invests in is the right one for its customers and the varying types of applications which are produced. One of the potential benefits recognised and sought by JKN was the ability to print with white ink, thus enabling it to work with non-white and clear materials as well as more standard substrates used within the display industry. Addressing the need to print direct to many of the substrates applicable to the packaging and point-of-sale markets meant that not only was the white important but, also, as vital was the ability to handle corrugateds and boards as well as more conventional display products.

When a new machine was being considered to increase production capacity, JKN was all too aware that reliability and quality were essential as well as increased environmental awareness. Today there are several wide-format printers available which tick the boxes in many ways, but the company also wanted to make sure it was dealing with a distributor which understood the market thoroughly and offered more than merely a sales service.

As a result, JKN turned to specialist UK distributor CMYUK Digital who not only was able to supply the printer required but was also offering a full technical service to make sure that the machine was able to do exactly what was required of it. Having followed market developments closely before making its next investment, the company opted for an EFI VUTEk QS2000 which, with its six colours and white, has been able to satisfy the versatility, speed and quality demands needed.

Now well-established within the display sector, the EFI VUTEk QS2000 is a 2 m wide, six-colour plus white ink, flat-bed and roll-fed printer which uses UV-curable inks to provide a tough, instant dry finish across virtually all materials. Durability is an essential pre-requisite for JKN Digital for whom many of its applications are for installation in harsh environments. For example, the sea-front in Blackpool is also subjected to salt water as well as fumes and daily grime and a quality, long-life finish is essential when producing signs and displays for locations such as this.

Additionally, for the increasing number of interior jobs now being output on the QS2000, high standards including the clarity of small text were also essential. As a result, JKN needed a machine which could cater for all types of indoor and outdoor applications across a wide range of different materials, both rigid and flexible. Another advantage with this printer’s inks is with its environmental benefits; prints produced on this system do not emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds) or other hazardous emissions, and an increasing number of end customers are now demanding more eco-aware displays and signs.

Typical jobs include back-lit and front-lit graphics, exhibition displays and pop-ups, posters and billboards, vehicle liveries, banners and signs plus specialist window and floor graphics. But of greater importance, and an area which separates JKN out from the competition, lies with the design and production of three-dimensional point-of-sale products. The company has a strong team of cardboard engineering experts who can create and produce a wide range of bespoke ideas for a growing number of end uses. So successful is this side of the business that JKN now produces cleverly folded and die-cut products for a range of end users, including other display producers, using its duo of wide-format Zünd flat-bed cutters and its UV-curable printing processes.

JKN has acknowledged that, today, there has been a noticeable shift away from traditional sign manufacturing processes, such as computer cut vinyl graphics, and this is reflected in the increase in applications where full-colour output is now provided. Also of considerable importance is the additional pressure on all industries to adopt more eco-friendly policies and, with its Greensolutions division, the company now concentrates on manufacturing products which respect the environment.

Managing director of JKN Digital, Peter Nicholls, comments: “The addition of the EFI VUTEk QS2000 has enabled us to enhance our green ethos and broaden the types of applications we can produce whilst making sure that we can maintain our reputation for fast turn-round of high quality, durable jobs. Since the company was formed more than 20 years ago we have seen many changes in the display industry and have gained experience of what we can expect from our digital printing machines.

“We needed to make sure that our latest investment in a flat-bed UV-curable printer was going to perform to the high standards that we expect,” Nicholls continues. “We need to give our customers a cost-effective service, there is no margin for error, and it was vital that the machine we chose would do the job we required from it first time, and every time. We also needed to make sure our printed output matched our cardboard engineering capabilities as well as our environmental principles.”

The EFI VUTEk QS2000 was delivered and installed at JKN Digital twelve months ago. Since day one it has been up and running, proving to be a tough and reliable work-horse which handles the company’s broad print requirements and matches its needs in terms of quality and speed.

CWES assist AGI Media in becoming the first UK-based company to achieve ISO 12647 print certification


Lance Blizzard (MWV Group Technical Process Manager) and Simon Landau (CWE/GMG Technical Director) with the ISO 12647-2 standards print and proof.


MWV’s AGI Media, a leading supplier of packaging solutions for the media entertainment industry, announced today that its Slough operation has achieved the FOGRA PSO ISO 12647 print certification, making them the first UK-based company to achieve this standard.

FOGRA UK partner City & West End Solutions oversaw the testing, with Simon Landau of CWE having previously assisted AGI with the provision of the necessary technical consultancy and supply of GMG Colour Management Software.

The FOGRA PSO ISO 12647-2 accreditation is primarily focused on the correct, optimised colour for the printing process.  In order to receive this accreditation, many process modules had to be conducted and carried out correctly such as evaluation and selection of materials, correct colour management , the production of contract proofs, measuring control and visual appraisal under standard viewing conditions.  General Manager, Andy Watts, stated “We pride ourselves on producing premium packaging and have embraced standardisation and critical process control to ensure quality and predictable, consistent and repeatable colour results to help build and protect our  customers’ brands.”

The MWV Group has invested heavily with CWE Solutions in GMG’s Print Control & Rapid Check software for press standardisation and GMG Colour Proof for the production of all their colour accurate contract proof’s.

This new certification complements the ISO 12647-7 (proofing process) for closed  loop colour which the company has already achieved.

AGI Slough’s other existing accreditations include:  ISO 14001 environmental  management system; ISO 9001 NQA quality management standard;  FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft);  and the International Safety Award from the British Safety Council in 2008 for safety procedures and working practices.

Additionally, AGI Slough has chain of custody certification from both the FSC and PEFC, which provides third-party validation of MWV’s sustainable fibre sourcing practices, and helps assure customers and consumers of the company's responsible environmental stewardship.

UK Printers Take Home Two of Six 2009 FESPA Digital Print Awards


UK printers scooped the top awards in Interior and Textile categories at this year’s FESPA Digital Print Awards, as well as taking second place in the Vehicle Category and receiving a further commendation in the Textile Category.

The competition was open to printers from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and attracted more than 200 entries, which were evaluated by an independent jury. The winners were announced on the eve of the FESPA Digital 2009 exhibition (12 -14th May 2009) in Amsterdam. One winner and one runner-up were selected for each of the six categories, and an additional 11 entries were commended by the jury.

Derbyshire-based Bonar Floors (now trading as Forbo Flooring Systems*), was singled out in the Textile Category for its innovative floor solutions, created for Milan-based architectural practice Sottsass Associati. The Sottsass Collection project involved producing a range of original designs using Bonar Floors’ flocked flooring - a unique, velvety, minimalist textile floor cladding. The company overcame a number of obstacles, which included adapting the Reggiani Giano machine to meet the requirements needed to create the innovative flooring solution. The two-millimeter-long flock had to be dyed and fixed to its roots, so the design team and colourist research technicians worked with the Reggiani machine experts for 18 months to achieve the desired results. Finally, the machine needed a specially acclimatised chamber, which meant that the entire facility was moved from one part of the factory to another to achieve the optimum operating environment.

Southeast England’s VCG Colourlink triumphed in the Interior Category, beating the competition with its Birmingham Post: Fort Dunlop project for interior architectural practice MMoser Associates and their client BPM Media. VCG Colourlink worked closely with the MMoser Associates’ creative team to develop high impact graphics across a wide range of substrates to radically redesign the client’s open-plan office creating artwork for the walls using a combination of historical, contemporary and abstract images. The key challenge was delivering colour consistency with diverse printed materials, ensuring these complemented the surrounding furniture and fittings, clearly defining the workspace into specific zones. As the client's business was newspaper publishing, a ‘newsprint dot’ theme was used for the images, which were printed onto VCG Colourlink’s trademarked Digital Wallpaper®, using the EFI VUTEk QS2000.

AST Signs Ltd from Manchester and Cumbria was runner-up in the Vehicle Category. Client Eddie Stobart wanted to achieve a new look for its vehicles with maximum visual impact. Printed using several Roland large format printers, the wraps needed to be cost-effective, had to last at least three years and, for the first time, the bumpers also had to be wrapped. The sheer size of the fleet - 1,500 44-tonne articulated units and 2,600 trailers - presented major challenges. Due to time constraints, the company was not able to remove the normal vehicle accessories prior to wrapping, which meant extra care needed to be taken to ensure high quality fitting. The AST Signs Ltd design team had to be very creative to ensure that the fleet's image looked consistent throughout.

The UK’s Glasgow School of Art received a commendation for its Textile Category entry Mackintosh Re-interpreted for client Hunterian Art Gallery/The Monument Trust/GSA. Using the Stork Sapphire/Mimaki TX2, the Glasgow School of Art set out to replicate Mackintosh’s original designs using contemporary processes and substrates to reproduce the aesthetic quality of the originals. Selected archive pieces were carefully studied, colour managed and handled to ensure that initial printouts matched originals. Mackintosh’s designs then had to be re-interpreted by completing unfinished tiles, extracting motifs and colour elements to make up the final 18 x 3 metre repeat lengths of the vertical textile hangings.

Commenting on the UK printers’ success, Nigel Steffens, FESPA CEO, said: “We are extremely pleased with the response that we’ve had from UK printers at this year’s FESPA Digital Print Awards. Overall, the UK had the second highest number of entries and took home the highest number of wins. Last year’s Awards saw UK printers receive five commendations overall, so it’s great to see them raise their game in terms of the quality of their work and creative solutions that they provide their customers. We look forward to seeing this trend continue at the next FESPA Digital Print Awards.”