Back in 2015, Cape Town-based USS Graphics Group became the first company in Africa to invest in a high-performance Inca Digital flatbed press from Fujifilm. Now, determined to bolster its national presence, it has installed a second Onset flatbed, capable of printing at speeds up to 640m2/h, at Print Shop Denver, one of its associated companies based in Johannesburg.
One of South Africa's leading commercial printers, USS Graphics has a strong focus on what it terms "campaignability" - its ability to produce all elements of an integrated marketing campaign in one location. USS Graphics offers customers a complete, 24/7 service from pre-press through to distribution, across a huge range of substrates, including corrugated board, vinyl, flexible materials and textiles. Its portfolio of printing technologies includes litho, screen and digital presses in Cape Town and in Johannesburg.
Quality at speed
"We wanted to make sure we had the same extensive capabilities across all our sites in both cities - giving us more flexibility in where we send customers' jobs," says Louis Burger, Managing Director, USS Graphics. "The Onset R40i we installed in Cape Town back in 2015 has proven to be a hugely valuable investment. We're using it predominantly for printing corrugated POS and POP display materials, which in the past we had to litho print to get the necessary quality, and then mount onto board. The Onset, with its ability to print ultra-high quality directly to rigid substrates, has truly revolutionised that side of our business."
As an example, Mr Burger cites the recent delivery of three major national campaigns for high-profile retailers, which had to be completed simultaneously, in the space of less than a week. "Without the Onset we could never have delivered jobs of that magnitude to such a tight deadline," says Mr Burger. "But now we can, and we do. It's hard to overstate how valuable that is to our business, both in terms of the new market opportunities it opens up and the sheer volume of work we can now get through."
But the Onset is about more than just speed. "The quality is incredible," Mr Burger continues. "Our sales reps are now insisting that all their samples are printed on it. And the flexibility to be able to print such varied short runs, at a consistently high level of quality is invaluable."
Leading the market
USS Graphics has never been afraid to pioneer new technologies. "Back when we installed the Onset in 2015, we were the first in Africa to do so," Says Mr Burger. "We've always prided ourselves on being different from our competition, so though the Onset was untested in the South African market, we knew what it was capable of, and were confident that it would give us a positive point of difference and an advantage over our competitors. We held talks with multiple suppliers and ran tests on all the rival platforms. After all of that, we had no doubt at all that this unique combination of Inca Digital hardware, and Fujifilm printheads, inks and service support, offered us something above and beyond anything else on the market. We're now delighted to be bringing that same revolutionary potential to our Johannesburg operation. This way we can cut our delivery times even further - by printing at whichever site is closest to the client, whatever the specifics of the job."
A partnership for the future
Mr Burger is also clear on the benefits of working with Fujifilm. "It's very much a partnership rather than a one way customer-supplier relationship," he explains. "We've dealt with them a great deal over the years. Long before we started investing in their inkjet products we were buying plates from them - and we continue to do so. We've always felt that they have been investing in our success, and the support that they offer to help us to get the very best out of their products is substantial."
As well as the Onset R40i at its Cape Town headquarters, USS Graphics also has a Fujifilm Uvistar Pro8 3 metre roll-to-roll printer. "The standards of quality, flexibility and reliability across all Fujifilm inkjet technology products are exceptional." Mr Burger adds.
Looking ahead to 2017 and beyond, Mr Burger sees USS Graphics' partnership with Fujifilm as a vital component of its strategy to stay ahead of market trends: "The print market in South Africa, as with the rest of the world, is trending steadily towards shorter runs with faster turnaround times, so we are going to see digital print playing an increasingly significant role. With our Fujifilm partnership, and the access that gives us to the latest in high-end inkjet print technologies, we're confident that USS Graphics is well placed to keep pace with all these market trends and to meet rapidly changing customer expectations."
[Image shows: Louis Burger, Managing Director, USS Graphics]