25 Jun 2021

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.

Graeme Finch Appointed General Manager of National Skills Academy for Materials, Production & Supply

Graeme Finch, General Manager of the National Skills Academy for Materials, Production & Supply

Proskills, the Sector Skills Council for the process and manufacturing sector, which includes the print and paper industries, has appointed Graeme Finch as General Manager of the National Skills Academy for Materials, Production & Supply. Graeme will spearhead the ongoing development of the Academy to provide top class industry-specific skills training support and solutions based on the demands of employers and employees.

Graeme brings with him a wealth of experience in engineering and manufacturing as well as his broader business support and management expertise, gained during his time at Business Link, the government-backed business advice and support service.

“The Academy is set to be one of the most significant developments in the print and paper industries in terms of developing, creating and maintaining a first class workforce to safeguard the future of the industry, and finding the right person to build on and develop the Academy further was crucial,” said Terry Watts, Chief Executive of Proskills. “Graeme’s combined experience of the manufacturing sector, together with his understanding of running a successful business support organisation and strong leadership qualities will be invaluable to establishing the structure of the Academy as the delivery mechanism for industry-focussed skills training.”

Grame joins the Academy from Jules m Ltd, a successful start-up company where he was Chief Executive for the past two years. He began his career as a project engineer, but soon progressed into general management. Graeme spent 10 years within the solar power industry, becoming Managing Director of Solapak Ltd and later Group Operations Director of Intersolar Group Ltd.

During the 1990s he entered the manufacturing sector, where he ran a transformer manufacturer and later headed up the European operation of a large US-based electronic component packaging company.

In 2000, Graeme became Chief Executive Officer of Business Link, where he was responsible for establishing a network of regional offices, setting up an ICT structure and generating funding opportunities to support new initiatives, which he and his team achieved in just 14 weeks. During his time at Business Link, he also led the organisation’s creation of an impartial Business Link offer, as well as the creation and development of the Information, Diagnostic and Brokerage (IDB) business model. Introducing innovative new processes and cost-efficiencies, Graeme ran one of the most financially efficient Business Link operations in England.

Commenting on his appointment, Graeme Finch added, “During the past months, there has been a great deal of consultation with employers regarding their expectations and requirements from The Academy. I want to ensure that this enthusiasm is turned in to reality, and that businesses large and small, continue to take an interactive role into how the Academy shapes itself. I look forward to engaging with stakeholders, employers and trade representatives over the coming months and to developing a first class skills delivery operation that will make a real difference to employer and employees and to the industries they represent.”

Timely Launch Of National Skills Academy for Materials, Production & Supply

Terry Watts, Chief Executive of Proskills (right) and Lord Young (left)Lord Young joined senior industry figures at official launch of the National Skills for Materials, Production & Supply (NSAMPS). Lord Young, Minister at the newly created Department for Business Innovation & Skills joined with senior representatives and employers from the process and manufacturing sector, which includes the Print and Paper industries, for the official launch in London, of the National Skills Academy for Materials, Production & Supply (NSAMPS).

The introduction of the new Academy, which is being launched to provide a gateway to quality-assured, industry-relevant skills training programmes and solutions, comes at a time when research1 has revealed that 68% of the largest employer organisations in the process & manufacturing sector are suffering from skills shortages. More significantly, 82% of companies across the footprint have confirmed that these skills gaps are having a negative effect on their business.

Joining the Minister for the nationwide unveiling of The Academy is Geoff Russell, Chief Executive of the Learning Skills Council (LSC), David Szymanski, Managing Director of Hanson Building Products, Tony Burke, Assistant General Manager of UNITE the UNION and Terry Watts, Chief Executive of Proskills UK.

The National Skills Academy for Materials, Production and Supply becomes the 11th skills Academy to be established as part of the Government’s expanding National Skills Academy network.

Kevin Brennan, Minister for Further Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Consumer Affairs at The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said, “I am delighted to be opening the National Skills Academy for Materials, Production and Supply (NSAMPS). It will help improve the skills of the current and future workforce by putting employers in the driving seat to shape training and nurture the talents of a new generation of workers. This government continues to invest in National Skills Academies because we want to build a system which meets the needs of businesses and individuals and creates a world-beating workforce which will support the industry’s future development.”

The National Skills Academy for Materials, Production & Supply will offer a new delivery mechanism for a range of industry-specific skills training products and services that are industry-endorsed and designed to meet the needs of the sector. Built on a ‘3D approach’ to training, this simple structure will give maximum benefit to employers, employees and learners that use it, taking them through the three key stages to successful skills development: Diagnostic, Directory and Delivery.

The Academy will provide flexible, innovative and cost-effective training solutions via a web portal, which will make training provision easier, simpler and more accessible for businesses of every shape and size, providing maximum sectoral and regional reach. Physical provision includes Employer Learning Centres that will provide state of the art classroom teaching as well as workshops for practical hands on training.

Commenting on the announcement, Terry Watts, Chief Executive of Proskills said, “As research has highlighted, training is no longer an option but a necessity and one that could make the difference between survival and failure. Our Academy couldn’t have come at a better time for our employers, especially as the recession forces companies to review the skills of their workforce. With staff cuts putting a greater strain on the remaining workforce and irreplaceable skills lost through redundancy, never before have skills been more important. But we know from the employer support that we have, that ‘skills activism’ truly is a reality in our sector and that the Academy is indeed a timely response.”

Mr Watts continued, “Over the years, we have listened to our employers call for simplification as they have voiced the challenges they have faced to gain easy access to industry-specific skills training provision, and we believe that the Academy will become THE delivery mechanism that will make all the difference.”

The National Skills Academy for Materials, Production & Supply will be run as a wholly owned subsidiary of Proskills, the Sector Skills Council for the process and manufacturing industries, which includes Print and Paper, under the direction of the Academy Board, comprising employers representing all of the eight industries that make up the sector as well as trade unions representatives.

Proskills UK has today also announced the appointment of Graeme Finch as the new General Manager for the National Skills Academy who will spearhead the ongoing development of the Academy to provide top class industry-specific skills training support and solutions based on employer demand.

Graeme Finch added, “This is a tremendously exciting time to be joining the team. From my experience, in mature industries, it is the people that are the key differentiator. Training your staff will give your business the competitive edge and make it stand out from the crowd, and I strongly believe that our National Skills Academy is the right and only way forward for businesses in our sector footprint.”

Fujifilm to host open day with Epson and Xerox

Mini Lab

Fujifilm is joining forces with Fujifilm Sericol, Epson and Xerox to hold a free open day at its showroom in Bedford on Thursday July 9.

If you want to find out what's new in the world of inkjets, inks, dry labs, digital printers and learn about business opportunities and how the market is changing then this event is for you.

The day will feature a series of presentations and an introduction to the new generation of inks and eco-friendly solutions as well as demonstrations of the latest kit, including the Fujifilm Acuity UV Inkjet, the Epson
Inkjet, Xerox iGen Digital Press, Epson Disk Producer and Fujifilm's award winning Drylab.

The event is free to attend but attendees are asked to register in advance. To register for this event please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or call 01234 572144.

The event kicks-off at 9.30am with a presentation on the current market for large format prints and photobooks from Nigel McNaught from PMA. Nigel will include the results of research recently carried out by Infotrends and Future Source Consulting.

Following Nigel's opening presentation there will be a look at the latest technology from Epson and Fujifilm Sericol.

After lunch delegates will be able to see all the equipment in action, Peter Hayward, Paul Austin and Jon Cohen from Fujifilm, Nick White from Epson and a team of technical experts will be on hand to discuss the new products.

The day will wrap-up at 4.30 after an open forum question and answer session.

Thursday July 9, 9.30am - 4.30pm, Fujifilm Showroom, St Martins Way Bedford, MK42 0LF.

Surprise move by the Italian digital printing specialist sees it install a Komori LS 29 offset press

Komori Offset Press

Marghera, 25th June 2009: pixart.it, the European leader in web-to-print based digital printing services, has announced the installation of a new four-colour Komori LS 29 offset press at the company’s Marghera production facility. The Komori is the company’s first foray into commercial litho printing and joins a fleet of digital printing machines which is unrivalled in Europe and has made the company one of the continent’s digital printing powerhouses.

Matteo Rigamonti, managing director, pixart.it explains the rationale behind the Italian company’s latest investment: “In January 2009 we introduced a new offset printing services to our customers. The response from the market has been tremendous and in a very short time we achieved the high volumes which more than justified this major investment. With this inhouse litho production capacity we can now ensure we maintain print quality and control over production times for longer run work, both of which are so essential to our core proposition - to offer quality printing at competitive prices and a 24/48 hour delivery service throughout Europe.”

Alongside the new Komori four-colour offset press, pixart.it has installed a Basysprint automatic CTP plate production system. Mr Rigamonti says he chose the Komori press and Basysprint CTP unit due to the highly automated printing process they offered which will enable the company to constantly achieve a quality end result, repeatable over time, even in the hands of operators who have little specific experience in the traditional
printing sector.

The new press and CTP system form the centre piece of an aggressive investment strategy that is once again rapidly expanding the company’s printing arsenal to help it meet ever increasing customer demands. Further investments on target for installation over the coming months include an Arizona 350 XT high quality flatbed printer; another KIP Color 80 system (the second it has installed in the last year); the company’s second Rho 320 R roll-to-roll system in less than a year; and two Zund G3 cutting systems, which will join six Zund cutting systems already installed across the company’s two Marghera production sites.

Continues Mr Rigamonti: “pixart.it has always been a company that will invest in the right and most innovative technology to meet its customers’ demands and enable us to achieve the optimum price/quality ratio. So, the installation of the new Komori is completely in line with this strategy. What's more, it's fundamentally important for us to be able to guarantee all our customers the quality and service which has always set us apart. We can now do this by managing the high volume print production process inhouse as we do with all our cut-sheet and wide format digital printing services.”

Free Online Pre-Registration for Ipex 2010 Now Open

IPEX 2010 Logo

Pre-registration for all those wishing to attend Ipex 2010 is now officially available via www.ipex.org/register and will result in a £30.00 saving off the entrance fee. The show organisers have confirmed that there will be free fast-track entry for all pre-registered visitors to the international event which will take place from 18th – 25th May 2010 at the NEC in Birmingham UK.

To cater for its international audience, the Ipex organisers have translated the pre-registration forms into French, Italian, German, Spanish and Simplified Chinese. Visitors who register via the website will also benefit from a discounted official Show Catalogue as well as exclusive pre-show email newsletters announcing new event features and visitor incentives.

Comments Nick Craig Waller, Ipex 2010 Marketing Director: “Our online registration system is extremely popular and provides the quickest and easiest way for our exhibitors’ customers and prospects to attend. Pre-registration for Ipex 2010 does not only save the visitor a great deal of time when they actually arrive at the event, it also saves money.

“With over 1,200 international companies representing all sectors of the print, publishing and media industry, Ipex 2010 will bring the world’s leading technology suppliers under one roof. Visitors will be able to discover new products, experience the latest industry innovations and emerging technologies but also get a chance to take away inspirational ideas from the business-focussed features at the event.”

Anyone who arrives at the event without having pre-registered will have to pay a £30.00 entrance fee.

Offering an important information and planning tool, the Ipex website – www.ipex.org – is already playing a crucial role in collecting and disseminating information to exhibitors and visitors alike. The increased functionality of the site enables exhibitors to post far greater detail about their specific plans. In addition, visitors have access to the latest exhibitor lists, including up to date product and service information, floorplans as well as cost-effective travel packages and logistical information.