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Quality leads Admark to Epson SurePress™ solution
Admark Visual Imaging, one of Australasia’s leading manufacturers of printed graphics, has installed the first Epson SurePress L-4033A, a highly versatile short run digital label press, in the region.
“When I saw the quality of the print from the SurePress L-4033A I knew without doubt that it was the ideal solution for us,” Admark Managing Director Laurie Pilling said.
Admark entered the label printing business using letterpress and flexographic printing equipment, and according to Laurie the only cost-effective label print job using this technology had to be big. Short runs simply weren’t profitable.
“The main challenge we faced was in identifying a digital label print solution that would give us – and our customers – top quality output,” he said.
Laurie said the first time he saw the results from an Epson digital label press he was immediately drawn to the quality of the print and that, along with the knowledge that Epson’s research and development into inkjet print heads was leading the field, told him that Epson had the best solution.
“The quality of print and colour from the SurePress is such that we can now spread heavy workloads across flexo and the SurePress without any discernible difference.”
Laurie said he has even presented clients with the same label printed on both systems and asked if they could notice any differences at all. In every case, the answer has been “no” adding substantial vindication to his decision to go with SurePress.
“It is very gratifying to see a customer as happy with an Epson product as Laurie is with SurePress,” said Craig Heckenberg, Business Unit Manager for Epson Australia.
“We are more than confident that SurePress will continue to produce the highest quality label output, including variable data labels, and reduce costs, making short run label jobs profitable for Admark for many years to come,” said Craig.
Designed for label converters taking the first steps into digital printing or expanding their existing digital printing capacity, large scale product manufacturers and commercial printers, the SurePress L-4033A fits easily into existing digital workflows and is offered with a range of third party pre-and post-press options that can be tailored to meet various needs and budgets.
It leverages the accuracy and precision of Epson’s leading MicroPiezo® ink jet technology and newly-developed SurePress AQ six-colour, industrial-quality, water-based pigment ink that produces a remarkable range of colours for greater Pantone and Spot colour reproduction.
Established 1971 as a screen printing company, Admark now has more than 50 employees in offices in Hamilton, Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua and Sydney, and specialises in large format digital printing, label printing and screen printing
About one third of Admark’s print volume is labels and 80% of all label work is food and beverage (80% food, 20% beverage) with the other 20% being industrial.
Job runs range up to a million pieces while the short run jobs range from 500 up to 10,000, and substrates run at roughly 50% synthetics (PET, PP) and 50% paper with gloss paper making up 75% of that.
With the introduction of the Epson SurePress the production time and costs for many short run jobs have been substantially reduced.
“To do a short run of 5000 labels on flexo the printing time would take only 15 minutes, but there’s the additional overhead of two hours for mounting the plates and setup, then, at the completion of the job, washing the plates and cleaning up,” Laurie said.
“On top of that, there are tooling costs, all of which have to be passed on to the client. So by eliminating the costs and dramatically reducing production time, we’re now passing cost savings on to the client and turning many jobs around in a fraction of the time and at short notice.”
The versatility and print accuracy of the SurePress was demonstrated in a bottle label Admark did for one of New Zealand’s leading winemakers.
“Each of the labels had to be individually numbered and to do this on a normal press would have been unrealistic. Instead we ran the entire label through the SurePress in one pass, using variable data for the numbers.”
Another challenge was to re-register a flexo press print job through the SurePress – ensuring the registration was within the commercially accepted tolerance.
“Generally a 0.2mm tolerance is acceptable but the SurePress gives us the ability to go beyond that and meet the highest standards,” said Laurie.
Combined with the SurePress’s versatile media support Admark is making good use of that accurate registration capability, particularly when it comes to even more sophisticated label jobs.
That ability is in contrast to other digital systems Laurie has examined over the years, where there are limitations on substrate types that can be used.
“While we’re still fine tuning some of the substrates for the SurePress, our own research and development is showing us that anything that can be run through a flexo press can be run through the Epson system, even uncoated and textured papers,” Laurie stated.
For the Admark sales team the SurePress is creating new business opportunities.
“We’re now able to go to the market and provide a complete offering from short to long runs at competitive rates,” Laurie explains.
“Prior to the SurePress we typically couldn’t have offered the best rates for short runs. Now we are taking on print jobs with as few as 500 labels, knowing that we can deliver them economically. We know all too well that a single short-run job can open big doors for the future,” Laurie said.
With its long and sophisticated experience in commercial graphic arts and photographic printing, Epson developed a completely new type of ink along with innovations in Epson’s reliable MicroPiezo print head to ensure SurePress produces the best digital labels in the business.
SurePress AQ Ink consists of high quality pigment colour particles coated with a high-density resin that promotes quick drying and strong bonding to uncoated and coated paper and film substrates.
AQ Ink was developed specifically to improve image quality over analogue printed labels, maintain water fastness and rub resistance, and is engineered to dry quickly to increase productivity.
The six colour aqueous pigment ink set - cyan, magenta, yellow, green, orange, black (and matte black) - provides an extremely wide colour gamut capable of reproducing specific corporate and natural colours.
The SurePress has 15 six-colour high performance and highly accurate print heads that produce thousands of labels per hour while creating smooth tonal gradations, remarkable colour quality, and sharp detail for easy bar code readability, plus crisp small type and line work.
And each print head uses Epson’s patented Variable-sized Droplet Technology to both ensure smooth tonal gradations and accurate colours for optimum image quality, and to help improve print speed over large single colour areas.
“The very attractive price vs performance balance of SurePress appeals to these businesses that see great opportunities in high quality short run digital labels,” said Craig.
“I know we will be seeing many more SurePress installations as businesses
increasingly move into the profitable short-run label segment. As usual those
who move first will have the advantage,” said Craig.