Manta Makes has invested in a Mimaki UJF 6042 Mk II e UV LED printer from CMYUK. This purchase reflects the company’s success that has seen entrepreneur husband and wife team with no prior business experience, go from strength to strength.
In 2015 Samantha and Paul Riley started out with a A4-sized Trotec Rayjet laser engraver from their dining room. Seven years on, they now have 24 staff working from an 8,000 sq. ft premises in the beautiful surroundings of the New Forest, designing and producing various digitally printed items.
The duo first started out making fairy doors, then moved into customised wedding décor that they sold on eBay. An early plan was to sell seasonal wedding merchandise for most of the year supplemented by decorations at Christmas.
Lockdown completely decimated the company’s wedding trade, but not to be deterred, it simply diversified and started producing other products such as cushions, mugs, and gifting, which really provided the company with the impetus to commercially jump forward.
“At the beginning people were doubtful that we would succeed because we didn’t really have a clue, and certainly didn’t appear to have much business acumen but we’ve proved the doubters wrong. This is because we’re relentless people, and if we can’t work out how to do something, we just keep going until we can. COVID was beyond our control, and we had no time to panic. We just thought to ourselves we’re going to make everything, and that’s what we did,” says Samantha.
The new printer brings the company’s Mimaki count to three: the A2-sized flatbed UJF-6042, UJF6042 Mk II, and now the UJF6042 Mk II e that is available in both A2 and A3 formats. This latest e series further improves image quality and machine stability, while maintaining the operability that was highly acclaimed in the Mk II model.
It builds too on Mimaki’s reputation for limitless creative possibilities when printing onto almost any material. The optional ‘kebab’ unit rotates bottles, cans, tins, and other cylindrical items to enable total wrap around graphics of an object, offering high yield bespoke gift capabilities.
Both Mimaki Mk II printers are four colour machines that includes 2 x white, clear, and primer. They can print directly to substrates up to 153mm thick and are up to 20% faster than the previous 6042 series.
“All three run all day, every day,” says Samantha, but what impresses her so much about the Mimaki technology is their precision, and the colour mapping capabilities.
“There aren’t really any machines like these. They’re reliable, they’re like workhorses, and I really like the service that comes with them. Most people when they come and visit us are impressed with all the equipment we have in-house. If I want to sell things and get the right feedback, I need to make sure I’m working with the right equipment from the beginning,” she says.
The next stage
This dynamic company has also invested in small format printing technology to produce greetings cards, diaries, calendars, and the like. Two more staff are set to join, and one suspects this will also be another highly successful enterprise.
Given the journey that Manta Makes has navigated, what advice would Samantha give creative/producer start-ups?
“Get decent computers to control your printers. If you’ve got a rubbish PC running Raster Link on it, everything will be slow, and it will take ages to load up the job. Also, the table the Mimakis sit on, you need to buy that otherwise the printer will shift about. Don’t cut any corners, invest in all aspects of your technology.
“If people like us with no design background or any history of running a business can do it, then everyone can. It's just about how hard you hold on when things get difficult,” she says.
And what does the future hold for the company? Says Samantha, “It’s important to me to get our print room growing, then I want to work on rewarding the people that have helped us get here. We’ve been so lucky; we’ve got the most amazing team which is now headed up by our recently appointed General Manager, David Melbourne.”