The curious name notwithstanding, the UFO proved popular among the mid-market level printers it was targeted at, finds Simon Creasey
For manufacturers, the naming of a new machine is a process that can be as fraught as the development of the underlying technology. And whatever name you eventually opt for, chances are that it’s going to stick with that machine for its lifetime so you have to choose wisely and get it right first time.
Often companies do a ‘Ronseal’ – hence the creation of names such as Speedmaster and Rapida. But sometimes circumstances intervene and the machine’s name is a little more ambiguous. As was the case with Morgana’s intriguingly named suction-fed folder. When it launched in 1983, the company wanted to christen it the Ultrafold, but this name was already taken so it was branded UFO and the name has stuck. While the origins of the UFO may remain unidentified, the key to its success is clear for all to see, according to Morgana’s sales manager for Scotland and the north east of England John Clason. Clason has been selling the machines for nearly 30 years and says that they have built up a reputation as being sturdy workhorses capable of churning out high-quality jobs time after time.
"It’s a very good jobbing folder," explains Clason. "It is built to a high quality and gives you the sort of consistency that you would expect from a larger, more expensive machine."
Available in SRA2 or SRA3 sheet size the UFO was launched to target a gap in the market for a middle of the road machine. "At the time there were lots of suction-fed benchtop folders and older-style machines, but nothing in between. Lots of printers were looking to upgrade from benchtop models and that’s the market that we were after."
It clearly hit the mark with "thousands" of installs made in the UK, Europe and even as far afield as Australia and New Zealand. One of the main attractions of the machine was its ease of use. Makeready on the UFO was easier than existing folding machines – so much so that Clason claims you didn’t need fully trained operators to use. "Within a quick period of time you could get up to speed on it," he adds.
The machine boasts a top speed of 30,000 sheets per hour and its powerful suction feeders can handle a wide range of paper weights and sizes. It has a fully adjustable long-delivery belt stacker, double-sheet anti-jam detector and calliper roller pressure settings. Since its launch, not much has changed on the machine with the most notable recent enhancement being the creation of a control panel on a pod, offering users greater flexibility – previously the control panel was an integral part of the machine. One of the few options available on the UFO is a CrossFold unit, which will set you back about £5,500, but around 90% of machines are sold without this optional extra says Clason.
A new SRA2 UFO costs around £12,000, but if you want to purchase one you’d better be quick because the company intends to discontinue the model shortly to focus on other devices in its portfolio. Clason says that the market for this type of machine has changed and as a result Morgana’s folding future will be more geared towards digital.
The company will take secondhand models as part-exchange and all used UFOs are fully refurbished, using parts stored at Morgana’s Milton Keynes warehouse, before they’re sold back into the market. A refurbished machine with full warranty will cost up to 70% of the new price – as PrintWeek went to press CJB Printing Equipment was offering a used UFO2 for £4,250. Morgana has a nationwide network of engineers and various service contracts are available depending on the age of the machine.
Max sheet size 640x457mm
Min sheet size 150x120mm
Max speed 30,000sph
New SRA2 UFO: £12,000
Used: expect to pay up to £8,400
What to look for
• General wear and tear
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