Me & My: Agfa Jeti Tauro H3300

Iain Clasper-Cotte (left) with production manager Luke Barraclough
Iain Clasper-Cotte (left) with production manager Luke Barraclough

Iain Clasper-Cotte, managing director of Northern Flags and its wide-format display specialist sister company FaberExposize UK, loves Agfa machines. He’s assembled such an impressive array of Agfa devices at the company’s factory in Leeds that some local printers jokingly refer to Northern Flags as the “Agfa showroom of the north”.

So, when Clasper-Cotte started reviewing the businesses’ operations at the height of the Covid pandemic, and looking at where the big growth opportunities might be as the country emerged from lockdowns, it comes as little surprise to anyone who knows him that his first port of call was Agfa.

“During Covid, we’d had to cope with a market where the demand for fabric, which is the majority of what we’ve been producing pre-Covid, died and like many printers we were in full-on survival mode,” says Clasper-Cotte. “At the time we had two Agfa Anapurna UV printers – we had a hybrid Anapurna, and a roll-to-roll Anapurna – and like many other printers, we were pushing aggressively into doing all of the safety Covid signage, but also, we were starting to talk to customers about a lot of the other products that you would print with UV. 

“We started getting lots of orders for window vinyls, and lots of orders for display boards and things like that, as retailers were starting to reopen and we realised that we’d been missing a trick historically, by just focusing ourselves primarily on the fabric when we did have UV capabilities. But we realised that we needed to be able to do it a lot quicker, particularly on things like window clings and the like, because the Anapurna was a bit slower when we used the white ink. So, we were looking for a machine that would have the flexibility of a hybrid, but also have a lot of flexibility in terms of what we could do on it.”

Although Clasper-Cotte really liked the look of Agfa’s Jeti Tauro H3300 printer, which he had seen in action at Fespa, he says he didn’t want to be “blinded” by the good relationship he had with the manufacturer so he shopped around and looked at other machines that had similar performance and functionality. 

He took a particularly close look at EFI’s offering, which impressed him, but after speaking to sales representatives of other manufacturers and lots of users of similar machines to the Tauro the final decision was a relatively easy one to make.

“What we’ve learned in the past when we choose a new machine are two things,” he says. “When we first brought production back to the UK we had some bad support, so we realised that what was really important to us is one, having a good level of ongoing support and two, the functionality of the machine. 

“We did due diligence on the other equivalent machines on both of those areas and Agfa won, so yet again, we had another red machine arrive.”

One of the things that really impressed Clasper-Cotte about the Tauro was its sheer heft, which he says is around two tonnes heavier than some of the equivalent machines offered by rival manufacturers. 

“It really is built for industrial-scale production,” he says. “They’ve not skimped on any of it. Also, there’s a lot of very well thought-out upgrades that we could do on it and it fitted neatly with some of the other software that we’re already using in production.”

While the scale of the machine was a major plus point it also brought some disadvantages. ”Our problem is we have bought a lot of machines over the past four years and we are tight for space,” says Clasper-Cotte.

As a result, a major reshuffle of the factory was required when the machine was installed in March this year. “We disposed of one of our Anapurnas and we had to move the other one into a warehouse, which has now been extended. 

“We’ve built another mezzanine for finishing, and we also had to move the Zünd in order to create a big enough access area into the position where the Tauro would fit.”

Clasper-Cotte adds that the reorganisation of the print room was vitally important to the success of the investment the business made in the Tauro.

“It’s all very well buying a big hairy printer like this, but if you can’t get that efficient throughput of raw materials and finished materials, then it’s a waste of money,” he says. “We had been offered an incentivised deal by Agfa and it probably took us two months to complete due diligence on [models offered by] competitors, but probably the bigger job was making sure we were comfortable that we could get goods in and goods out finished to cope with the capacity of that machine.”

Over the past six years the business has invested in six wide-format printers and Clasper-Cotte says the Tauro, which has a top speed of up to 453sqm/hr is “undoubtedly” the fastest of the lot. He cites the machine’s speed and flexibility as its biggest assets and although he struggles to find fault with the Tauro in hindsight he regrets not buying the super-roll option.

“To be honest with you, we would probably have struggled to fit it into the print room, but the super-roll would have allowed us to put even more roll-to-roll through than we currently are.”

Although he says there were a couple of teething issues with the machine following installation this is where the company’s long-standing relationship with Agfa came into its own.

“These things sometimes happen with machines and you’ve got to be a bit philosophical about it, even though you don’t want them to have problems when you spend a lot of money on them,” says Clasper-Cotte. “But this is why we’re glad we did the due diligence in terms of the support side of things because all of our machines are on AgfaCare plans, and if you have a problem they [Agfa] are on site very quickly, usually same day. They try and sort problems out remotely straightaway, but if they can’t we usually have an engineer with us within a couple of hours.”

Minor teething issues aside the Tauro has run like a dream since it was installed and in addition to boosting the company’s turnover Clasper-Cotte says it has cemented Northern Flags place as a wide-format printer rather than a flag specialist.

“We’ve been working on that transition ever since we moved into this factory five years ago and I think the fact that we now have the Tauro and the additional Zünds, etc, means that our larger clients now recognise that we’re not just a flag player trying to do some bits and pieces on UV or rigids. We’re very clearly able to do both in high volume, so it has completed our transition.”

That ability to cater for the growing demand for just-in-time production has been vital to the company’s growth with the business winning a number of new accounts that have been driven in large part by the installation of the Tauro and the relationship-building it did during the pandemic. Clasper-Cotte saying the business is ahead of pre-Covid levels revenue wise and also has 40% more staff and he anticipates further sales growth in the future.

“The thing we saw when we were coming out of Covid was a lot of our clients had made a lot of their marketing teams redundant and a lot of the exhibition companies had really scaled back a lot, so our view was that when the market recovered it would be very last minute [jobs] and if we couldn’t turn things around quickly, we’d miss out a chance,” he explains. 

“So, that’s really why we invested not just in that machine, but also a month or two before we took delivery of another dye-sub machine [an Avinci CX3200 from Agfa]. And since then we’ve bought another Zünd. So, all of this [investment activity] has been us making some assumptions about what the market would be like after Covid. 

“We took a pretty big but calculated gamble on it, and it seems to have paid off for us.” 


Printheads Piezoelectric Ricoh MH5420

Max resolution 1,200dpi

Colours Six: CMYK, light cyan, light black plus white and primer (32-printhead model)

Max speed 450sqm/hr

Max print width Sheets and boards: 3.34m; roll-to-roll: 3.3m/dual roll 1.6m

Max media thickness Sheets and boards: 50mm (media dependent); roll-to-roll: 2mm

Min media thickness 0.2mm

Max print length Sheets and boards: 4m; roll-to-roll: full roll length

Text quality 4pt

RIP and workflow Asanti, StoreFront, PrintSphere, third-party RIPs

Footprint 8.2x2.1m

Price From £500,000 depending on configuration

Contact Agfa Graphics 020 8231 4983


FaberExposize UK and Northern Flags have been part of European printed display fabrics network FaberExposize for 35 years. The combined group employs over 700 people with production hubs in Thailand, Poland, France, and the Netherlands, and serves customers ranging from multinational brands to print management companies, advertising agencies, sports companies, and event management businesses.

Why it was bought...

The company wanted to boost its production capability and capitalise on growing demand from customers for just-in-time jobs.

How it has performed...

Clasper-Cotte couldn’t be happier as sales volumes have increased due to the speed and flexibility of the Tauro. “The advantage of the configuration that we got with this particular machine is we got it with lots of white ink heads and lots of primer heads,” he says. “So, what that means is we can open up lots of additional markets and because we got the high speed version we can do a lot of stuff very quickly.”