After investigating the continuous inkjet market for around two years, the marcomms and transactional specialist had the first of its machines installed in February 2016 at its Warrington site. The next machine will go live in the next few days after coming into MBA's Tottenham facility in December and the third is due for delivery in March, also at Tottenham.
A spokesman for Ricoh confirmed that MBA will be the first company in the world to have three of the machines.
The strategic investment is intended to boost growth in the direct marketing and transpromo markets, in which MBA has already seen success since the first machine was installed, picking up a number of high-profile clients.
Sales director Kevin Stewart said: “Data leads to much of what we do and provide for our clients. We’ve invested a lot in the data side of our business and we need the output technology to maximise the effectiveness of variable offers, personalised messages and typical one-to-one communications.
“For us it gives us versatility. We can print onto a variety of litho stocks as well as inkjet papers. It’s as close to litho as I've ever seen. With some of the output you would be hard-pressed to see the difference.”
First shown in September 2014, the four-colour inkjet press has a web width of 520mm and can handle substrates from 40-250gsm, including coated offset stocks as well as uncoated when used with Ricoh’s undercoat and protector coat units.
It can produce 50m/min at its maximum 1,200dpi resolution, but has a has a top speed of 120m/min at 600dpi or 100,000 A4 duplex images per hour.
"We are not a large online commodity printer. So this technology means we have the output capability to provide personalised communications, which gives us the quality to reflect the brands we provide for,” said MBA operations director Mark Cunningham.
Cunningham added that having three machines across the two sites means it will be able to switch production between sites to balance output and also give disaster recovery options.
All three of MBA’s machines are configured with Ricoh’s pre-coat flood coater and post-coat unit, which protects image areas, and Hunkeler rewind, unwind and dynamic perfing units. The lines give MBA the ability to move from reel-to-reel to reel-to-cutsheet in one operation.
The second two machines were initially due for installation last September but roll-out was pushed back to enable time to refurbish the Tottenham facility and create a purpose-built, dust-free environment for the machines.
"The location we chose for the Ricohs was deliberately in the heart of the production operation department. So, there was a factory upgrade and reconfiguration that we needed to do in London. Our initial September installation was a very aggressive target for both parties and it was better to do it right than to do it fast,” added Cunningham.
MBA Group employs 288 staff, 212 in Tottenham and 76 in Warrington, and has a turnover of circa-£40m.