Former Olwen Direct Mail partners Andy Ruddle and Peter Rivett are back in print with a 20m venture they claim will shake up the digital print and direct mail markets.
Real Digital International is based in Croydon and starts 24/7 production on 1 January. It will be equipped with six digital presses, which Real has designed with five unnamed technology partners. They give the firm the capacity for 1m A4 fully variable, four-colour duplex sheets per day.
Each machine, all of which have a maximum print area of 630x1,270mm, has upgrade paths for speed and size, and Ruddle said he expected them to be capable of printing 1m A4 sheets each per day by spring.
He remained tight-lipped about the technology, but said he had spent many months speaking to major digital print technology providers before deciding to build his own presses. "I will acknowledge that it's ink-jet," he said. "It's the only process that seems to be developing and moving forward."
The machines use UV-cured inks as they dry immediately, enabling inline finishing. They print on a wide variety of substrates, ranging from 70gsm paper to 380gsm board, as well as polythene, vinyl, foil and PVC. "It's almost a case of 'if I get can get it on a roll, I can print it'," said Ruddle.
Potential applications include direct mail, billing and point of sale. Real has been trading since the start of this year, offering a graphics studio, managed services and database management, with about 12 clients on board.
It has also placed the largest-ever order for Heidelberg Stahl finishing kit. This includes two high-speed multifunctional finishing lines and three offline systems, including the largest mailer produced by Stahl with an in-feed width of 1,420mm.
Real has also produced a range of intelligent enclosing machines with Pitney Bowes.
Real digital international
- Capacity 1m A4 fully variable, full-colour sheets per day
- Formats up to 630x1,270mm
- Substrates up to 380gsm board, as well as polythene, foil, vinyl and PVC
- Staff 45, due to rise to 120 by December 2006
- Premises 645sqm in Croydon