An Epic tale of passion for print and determination to push creative boundaries
Flint Group’s newly launched XCURA EVO Sheetfed Process ink series has already brought tremendous opportunity and excitement to one high quality commercial printer in the UK.
Epic Creative Print is the most recent company to benefit from retrofitting UV LED lamps to their 6 colour Mitsubishi press. Choosing Flint Group’s XCURA EVO has brought results that are truly epic!
“Installing UV LED broadens our opportunity to sell creativity.” according to Mark Downey, Managing Partner of Epic Creative Print in the beautiful prehistoric market town of Dorchester in South West England. And creativity is certainly something Mark and his team know a lot about. For more than 20 years they have been re-defining the boundaries of print, and then pushing them even further to produce exceptionally high quality with impressive visual and tactile results. And since 2013, when they launched their innovative and unique HiLite service, they have become renowned for their creative flair and ability to produce stunning special effects and textures.
This reputation for being different has been built on the back of a very trusty Mitsubishi Diamond 1000 press, and more recent investments, Indigo and a Scodix enhancement press. With this impressive array of technology, Epic produces the most stunningly creative, tactile print that is truly outstanding!
“Our customers began asking for larger print runs of some of our most highly creative designs which we were producing on our Scodix and Indigo, but longer print runs doesn’t mean reduced unit cost in this case, so we began investigating the possibilities UV LED might offer.” explains Mark. “We use all kinds of substrates, from light uncoated stock, 100% recycled boards and specialist substrates, through to silvers like Mirri Pak, our own in-house foil papers and laminated substrates. We thought we may be able to transfer some of the longer run length work to litho with UV LED. Flint Group invited us to one of their UV LED customers in Berlin, and as soon as we saw the work they were producing there we immediately said ‘We want this!’”
Flint Group’s technology partner AMS Spectral UV now part of Baldwin Technology Co. were responsible for installing the UV LED lamp, chiller and control unit. They installed it with the option to move the LED array from the end of the press, after the coater unit, to a position after unit two, giving the flexibility to double hit with fluorescent or opaque white for example. The 6 colour with coater Mitsubishi took just 2 days to convert to UV LED once all the rollers had been changed to UV compatible “and this gives us another 5 years at a fraction of the investment a new press would cost.” says Mark.
He adds “It’s still too soon to tell what savings we’ll see in electricity, and we don’t expect much paper saving. In fact when you add the costs of training, testing the consumables and general installation lost time to the cost of the LED lamps and UV rollers, the investment we’ve made has been significant, but the print room environment is so much better. The press minders are happy and are already saying they couldn’t work anywhere else. Our decision to install UV LED was not so much about the traditional cost related benefits that we’re hearing about from UV LED, although we’re pleased to accept them of course, but it was far more to do with what it could bring us in terms of new effects, simpler processes and new market opportunities.”
The print room at Epic is led by Jason Johnson and he’s been responsible for seeing that the new technology is delivering the results they hoped for. “Turnaround time on regular 4 back 4 work has dramatically reduced; work can be backed-up immediately and post print finished within minutes of coming off the press.” He says. “There is now no wet work waiting, while set off and spray powder have been eliminated and no water-based coating has been used since UV LED was installed. In fact the water-based coater is now being used for Flint Group’s LED Hypergloss UV Varnish, and we’re getting gloss levels we’d normally only expect from a trade house or gloss lamination.”
Jason and the team commissioned the press with Flint Group XCURA EVO process inks and were up and running very quickly indeed despite never having printed UV before. They have already experimented with various XCURA fluorescents, metallics, matt, high gloss and drip-off varnishes and dual-effect inline gloss and matt varnishes are due for testing next. They’re clearly impressed and excited with the results. A glance around the print room reveals some truly astonishing special effects created using XCURA products, in particular a new design for one of their high street retail clients, and it’s possible to feel the enjoyment the print team is getting from trying out the new technology.
Mark Downey concludes “We know this investment will open up new markets for us as well as creating opportunities for new business by up-selling at existing clients. Together with Flint Group we’re looking to push our creative boundaries and add even more value to our print and thereby enhance our customers’ images.”