Nozomi 14000 under installation

Kolorcraft drops litho for single-pass digital

EFI Nozomi 14000 SD: near-litho image quality

Yorkshire POS specialist Kolorcraft has taken delivery of an EFI Nozomi 14000 SD single-pass digital printer, allowing the firm to migrate to a fully digital and screen-printing based operation.

Arriving in April 2024, the new printer is currently undergoing installation at Kolorcraft’s Ossett site. 

Capable of 60 linear m/min printing speeds at an effective 720dpi resolution, the Nozomi will allow Kolorcraft to make the transition away from litho printing towards a fully digital approach, with a buyer already lined up for the firm’s 1,200x1,620mm Koenig & Bauer Rapida 162a.

Gary Herrington, Kolorcraft’s operations director, told Printweek: “From a quality point of view, any concerns that we had historically have more or less been eliminated. And this machine does provide a near-litho quality image.

“But really, the economics of large-format litho have just disappeared, to be perfectly honest. Run lengths are increasingly short, and it just doesn’t stack up to have a large, increasingly expensive to power machine running shorter runs all the time, which is what we have ended up doing – I think most people in our market are in the same boat.”

The company has been considering the move for more than four years, looking at a number of different manufacturers – but EFI’s machinery was among the more mature options in the market, with “the most complete, market-ready package” of the moment, Herrington said.

“It was important to us that we were buying a product and technology that’s actually proven, works, and we can hit the ground running, rather than something that’s in a beta testing phase,” added Michael Atkinson, the firm’s managing director.

Atkinson, who started with the company 35 years ago as trainee estimator, bought out Kolorcraft in a 2019 MBO.

He added that the single-pass technology would prove useful on two fronts, taking longer runs off the firm’s flatbed fleet – made up of Inca X3 HS printers and a Durst hybrid – as well as cutting out the makeready and switchover times from the litho press.

“It’s massively more productive than the flatbed machines. It gives you an equivalent turnaround time to the litho jobs – in fact, from block paper to products on the floor, it takes less time, even though the machine runs slightly slower: obviously there’s no makeready, or any of the [processes] that you’d have with the litho environment.”

The new press will be operating on a wide range of substrates, to match the varied jobs Kolorcraft receives from its retailer customers; paper, polypropylene, Corex, corrugated and box boards – the printer is able to switch neatly between presets, without delaying production.

“Setup times are minimal, and it moves from one substrate to another at a button-touch,” Herrington added.

While the new Nozomi represents a substantial investment, Kolorcraft is already considering its next purchase, with the directors mooting a potential move into smaller formats to pursue the market’s trend towards small, specific POS applications.

Atkinson said: “We’ve just come back from Drupa, and there’s this massive push at the moment on B2 sizes, where you have a lot of finishing machines that are also being developed for the market – so we’re keeping an eye on it.

“We find that a lot of the products we do are becoming smaller format; it’s partly a design thing.

“I think the days when stores were happy to plaster their front windows full of large posters are gone – it’s not really in vogue anymore. A lot of advertising is happening in the shelves, rather than the front of the store.”

Kolorcraft employs 193 at its Ossett factory, turning over around £25m annually.