A move to the latest low-cost UV-curable print technology has quickly reaped financial and speed dividends for Complete Studio Graphics with its investment in a roll-to-roll wide-format machine fitted with a Lightbar UV curing solution supplied by Colorific. Also available as a retro-fit, the installation of this new unit has instantly saved the London and Slough-based graphics company significant man-hours and production costs in a new system which costs a fraction of a conventional engine.
Located on-site at London’s ExCel, a sizeable proportion of jobs produced by Complete Studio Graphics is in the events area, with exhibition participants relying on being able to get their display requirements turned round quickly and at a high quality. In addition, the company also produces a broad range of general graphics for conferences in other locations as well as for a diverse selection of clients from overseas as well as in the UK.
Formerly, with jobs on flexible materials being produced using its solvent-based units, Complete Studio Graphics was always faced with delays after printing and before laminating because of the risk of outgassing. With the addition of the Lightbar solution, finished jobs are now ready immediately, with no time needed for drying, outperforming solvent-based production and providing the good durability available with UV-curable inks.
“We needed a machine that would give us a faster way of working but at a low investment price, particularly as this is our first venture into UV-curable technology,” explains Alan Carter of Complete Studio Graphics. “But we didn’t want to sacrifice quality or our ability to maintain attractive prices for our clients who know that our sensible rates and fast turnaround don’t compromise the standard of the work we produce.”
As well as producing banners and event graphics, many of the applications created by Complete Studio Graphics involve large, tiled panels with the emphasis often being on last-minute orders which need to be supplied and fitted to demanding deadlines. The versatility and ease of use of the Lightbar unit now gives the company all the benefits and convenience of UV-curable production without the heavy investment cost.
“With Lightbar, we can print work and use it straightaway, which is something that’s impossible with solvent-based production,” Carter continues. “We’re now far more flexible and versatile, and the saving on lamination is a huge saving on time and money. UV-curable technology is the way to go.”
Carter was originally looking at a proprietary flat-bed machine with roll-to-roll capabilities as his introduction to UV-curable print but, with the bulk of his company’s work being on flexible materials, it made even more sense to invest in a machine with the inexpensive Lightbar unit. Although it can be retro-fitted for just £2,500 to an existing chassis that uses Epson DX4 or DX5 print-heads, he decided to buy the system as part of a new printer, thanks to the extremely low purchase price.
The Lightbar unit has been developed to respond to the clear demand for printers which offer the convenience, familiarity and colour vibrance found in solvent-based engines but with the fast drying and high gloss finish associated with UV-curable output. Currently there are large numbers of existing systems using solvent formulations but which have been rendered redundant because of the move away to other ink chemistries. Although latex has found popularity in some environments, in terms of durability and colour accuracy, UV-curable technologies continue to find favour even though initial investment costs are normally relatively high. However, owners of older machines can now modify their units quickly and effectively with the addition of Lightbar and its UV-Light next generation ink.
“Complete Studio Graphics is a typical example of a graphics house that wants to transform its solvent-based print to UV-curable production, but without the huge learning curve and high investment cost,” states Shaun Holdom of Colorific. “The Lightbar curing unit is so inexpensive and easy to use it really has to be seen to believed. Retrofitted to an existing chassis, operation is straightforward and familiar yet finished prints are high quality, dry instantly and ready for use straightaway.”
Lightbar utilises Colorific’s next generation UV-Light inks which combine all the advantages of solvent-based formulations with the benefits of UV-curable chemistry, giving good adhesion, very low odour and scuff and abrasion-free results. Because the ink doesn’t dry in the nozzles, print-head life is extended, and low running costs are complemented by more environmentally-friendly output.
[Photo shows the Lightbar printer installed at Complete Studio Graphics]