One of the first EFI-VUTEk GS3200 wide-format UV-curable ink-jet printers has now been installed in the UK with Sutton Coldfield based Andesign opting to purchase this versatile flat-bed and roll-fed machine. After making its debut at FESPA Digital in Amsterdam earlier this year, the GS product line enhances the speed and quality already developed in the enormously successful QS series and brings faster, high standards of output to the market.
The choice of manufacturer was never in question, states Andesign’s managing director, Andy Williams. His company previously invested in a six-colour EFI-VUTEk PressVu 200-600 in 2004 and never had cause to question its quality or reliability. However, the demand for higher speeds at finer resolutions led him to upgrade his printer to a newer model and the eight-colour plus white GS3200 suits his purposes perfectly. Supplied and installed by specialist distributor, CMYUK Digital, the installation took place in mid-October 2009 and was up and running immediately.
This investment is playing a key role in the expansion plans for Andesign, and Williams comments: “We’ve worked with Robin East of CMYUK Digital before and, because we have a strong relationship with the company, I was happy to buy the EFI-VUTEk GS3200 on the strength of the quality of the samples I was shown. We didn’t even view the machine before coming to a decision and nor did we feel the need to look at competitive alternatives.”
Situated in the heart of the Midlands, Andesign designs and produces a wide range of displays ranging from retail and point-of-sale, portable solutions and exhibition graphics, interior and exterior applications including multi-sheet posters, floor graphics and banners, plus vehicle liveries and wraps. Such has been the success of the business that the need for a faster and more versatile wide-format printer became an essential addition to the company’s armoury of equipment.
In addition to working with standard sign-making display materials, either in sheet form or off the roll, Andesign has also experimented with more unusual substrates to determine their suitability for digital printing and, currently, incorporates products such as leatherette into specialist applications. This type of media is proving to be ideal for printing using UV-curable ink and is well matched to the versatility of the EFI-VUTEk GS3200.
Because of the company’s skills with cardboard engineering, intricate and complex point-of-sale and display products have become one of Andesign’s specialities. The company works with prototypes of original concepts and designs which are then die-cut and produced in longer run lengths using offset-litho. However, the speed and quality of the new ink-jet printer means that, for some shorter runs, clients are opting to have the entire job output digitally and this is particularly beneficial when variations in graphics and text are required between print batches.
The eight-colour EFI-VUTEk GS3200 has a maximum print width of 3.2 m on both flat sheets and rolls, with fast and easy change-over from one type of material to the other. Andesign opted for the additional white because of the extra versatility it would provide, and Williams is particularly impressed with the machine’s ability to print two boards or rolls side-by-side in the same job.
Williams is a firm believer in white ink because of the savings which can be made on jobs where it is more cost-effective to use coloured media. “Not being restricted to white material is a tremendous advantage,” he says. “The good opacity of the white on the GS3200 is enhanced by the way it can be incorporated into the work-flow, making it a simple addition to the existing colours and enabling greater creativity in designs and how they can be implemented in a digitally printed format.”
Andesign’s history is the stuff that dreams are made of, with Williams originally starting his business 14 years ago as a sign-maker in his parents’ garage. As demand for his computerised vinyl cutting talents grew, so he was able to expand by moving to larger premises and taking on additional staff. Being in the right place at the right time with a strong client list meant that, when wide-format digital colour output became available, Williams was able to adopt the technology as and when it came to market, gradually augmenting his facilities to accommodate additional machines. Today, Andesign occupies a series of units which enables the company to handle all types of work, including cardboard engineering, in-house.
“Growing our business in line with the technology which was available was a natural progression for us,” states Williams. “We are familiar with all the different ink-jet formulations and also have experience with thermal transfer. Handling colour accurately and knowing the best way to reproduce it onto a variety of different materials has evolved through many years of experience.”
As well as a full line-up of printing and vinyl cutting capabilities, Andesign also has comprehensive finishing equipment, including laminators and flat-bed cutting tables with “magic eye” registration for working to intricate shapes and contours with rigid and flexible materials. These facilities include a Zünd flat-bed table with iCut technology, essential when cutting, creasing and folding applications which need complex cardboard engineering. The ability of the EFI VUTEk GS3200 to print direct to card stocks, box boards, corrugateds and other packaging materials is as essential as working with more conventional sign and display substrates which include acrylics, aluminium composites, Foamex, Correx, plus flexible media such as vinyls, films and banners.
Williams’s overall knowledge of different ink technologies has given him broad and practical experience across wide-format digital printing machines ever since the first options came onto the market more than a decade ago. Having used early aqueous-based and thermal transfer machines, Andesign has benefited from solvent-based units as well as early UV-curable systems. As a result, the company is well positioned to know what it expects from its equipment and how to optimise output quality, colour accuracy and speed.
CMYUK Digital’s Robin East says: “Andesign is a classic example of a business which has worked steadily since its inception to develop a true understanding of how wide-format digital print can play a vital part in today’s market and its changing trends and technologies. The company has a total grasp on the need of the market; its constant drive to deliver superior quality will ensure it goes from strength to strength with this latest investment.”
Willams concludes: “We’re confident that this investment will pave the way to winning further lucrative national and local contracts and draw attention to us. We really do offer a difference and the EFI VUTEk GS3200 will allow us to focus on the requirements of large print projects as well as responding to the needs of clients with extreme deadlines without any negative impact on quality.”