Me & my: Fujifilm Jet Press 750S

Simon Eccles
Thursday, July 23, 2020

Buying a new car after three years if a newer model comes out, isn’t all that unusual. Swapping a near-million-pound digital press for a newer model after three years, is less common. Still, Jamie Emmerson, director of Emmerson Press in Kenilworth, is happy with the choice he and his fellow directors made early last year.

Emmerson: “Our original press will run and run, no question. However, we will be more productive and faster with our new one”
Emmerson: “Our original press will run and run, no question. However, we will be more productive and faster with our new one”

Emmerson Press installed the UK’s first Fujifilm Jet Press 720S sheetfed B2 inkjet press in 2016, and was the subject of a Printweek Me & My... a few months later. Early last year we reported that Emmerson had ordered the UK’s first 750S as a replacement for the 720S and this was delivered in August.

Jamie Emmerson says the swap-out showed off its benefits immediately. “In September, the first month of operations, we ran 40% more sheets, which is a testament to the increased speed and productivity.”

Emmerson Press specialises in high-quality commercial printing, and has two Heidelberg litho presses, a B2 format CD 74 and an XL 75. It replaced an SRA3 HP Indigo 3000 digital press with a similar format Linoprint C751 dry-toner press, but the B2 Jet Press 720S a year or two later marked a step up in quality as well as size.

“The Jet Press is complementary to litho, especially as print runs are coming down,” says Emmerson. “There are more and more 50 and 100 runs of expensive luxury brochures. The Jet Press is the best for these. The quality of print, as our customers agree, is far better than any other solution, better than litho, especially on uncoated stock.”

Both Jet Presses have often been used for prestige jobs such as annual reports, plus regular work for Opus Media, which specialises in very large format collectors’ books on themes such as sports or motoring.

Emmerson Press is a family run business, founded by Brian Emmerson in 1981. His sons Jamie and John joined in 1996 and are now both directors. They took on Paul Heath as managing director at the end of 2017. The Emmerson brothers first met him on a trip to Germany with Fujifilm prior to their first Jet Press 720S purchase.

Until March this year business was looking good, with a £3.5m turnover and 25 staff. Then came the lockdown, which hit business as it has for many commercial printers. “On 20 March we had a full order book, but a lot of it was pub news and estate agencies,” says Jamie Emmerson. “On 21 March we had zero orders.” Since then some big annual report orders have helped keep the presses turning, while June has seen calendar work coming in. “Fortunately we have enough resources to last a considerable amount of time,” says Emmerson.

Why replace the 720S?

Looking back a year to what now seem the good times, what prompted Emmerson Press to replace its Jet Press 720S with the newly launched 750S? “We had the old one just over three years, from May 2016 to August 2019. I didn’t think three and a half years was unreasonable for equipment at the cutting edge like this,” Emmerson says.

“We were invited by Fujifilm to see the 750S early last year, in the Belgian showroom. We’d heard about its productivity so we said we’d go. We met the demonstrator, Kim, and we said ‘we’ve read the brochure, Kim.’ He said ‘no, there’s much more than that, let me walk you through it one thing at a time.’ So he did. I was there with Neil Edwards, our main Jet Press operator. Neil said ‘That’s amazing, everything I moan about has been resolved. It would be so productive.’ But it was the commercial deal we came up with that made it a no-brainer.”

The order was placed and the new press arrived in August. Fujifilm took out the old one first, Emmerson says. “It took 16 days to get one press out and the next one put in. They’d have liked four weeks, but they did it faster.”

Emmerson owned its original 720S rather than leasing it. Fujifilm took it in part exchange for the new press, and kept it in its Bedford showroom while looking for a buyer. Fujifilm’s European digital systems product manager Mark Stephenson says that a UK buyer was lined up prior to the Coronavirus lockdown, but things are on hold at present.

“I think this is the only secondhand Jet Press to come onto the UK market, and may be for a long time,” says Emmerson. “I think people tend to put a second one in and keep the first, or they will run them into the ground then replace them – some are seven or eight years old. Our original press will run and run, no question. However, we will be more productive and faster with our new one.”

What does the new one add?

What’s the difference between a 720S and the new 750S? Primarily a set of improvements that have a combined effect of considerably boosting productivity. The 750S has the latest high-speed Fujifilm Dimatix Samba piezo printheads, allowing it to print up to 3,600 B2 sheets per hour compared with 2,700sph on the 720S. Revised cleaning routines only take three minutes every two hours.

A new all-IR drying system with a heated vacuum belt is both faster and saves 23% of electricity use. The drying stability of the vacuum belt allows paper down to 80 or 90gsm depending on ink coverage. It also means the second side can be put through quicker, says Emmerson.

The 750S is, like the 720S, based on an RMGT (Ryobi) offset press chassis with litho-style feeders, grippers and delivery. It’s simplex only, but can put a barcode on the back surface that’s read on the second pass so the correct image is called up from the RIP and positioned accurately.

The wide-gamut Fujifilm Vividia aqueous inks are the same on both presses. Also the same is the Fujifilm XMF digital front-end and RIP, although new server hardware came with the 750S.

The sheet size is increased marginally to 750x585mm, allowing six US Letter sized pages to fit, but not six A4s. Emmerson isn’t bothered. “It’s rare for us to use the full sheet size. You could get five A4s on a sheet, but there’s no great advantage – there’s no click charge and no real savings because you’d have to take SRA1 sheets and cut them down.”

How has it been in practice?

“There have been no problems with the 750S,” says Emmerson. “The first one needed a new writing head within the first month, so it was replaced under warranty. There has been nothing wrong with the new one, technology wise.”

Emmerson has also been impressed with Fujifilm as a supplier, he says. “I hadn’t dealt with Fujifilm prior to 2016. They are refreshingly different to deal with compared to some major suppliers of tech!

“There’s a lot of willingness to help us, as we were the first in the UK with the 720S and then we got the 750S. They’ve also helped with the marketing of the press, leads and so on.”

Nothing is perfect though, so is there anything that Emmerson would like the Jet Press to do in a future version? “It would be good to have some special colours, especially metallics. Pantones aren’t really an issue with the extended gamut setting, so we can get Reflex Blues, etc. Varnishing would be good though, especially with UV driers.”

Our usual parting question is “would you buy it again?” Emmerson already has done of course. So how about recommending it to others? “For a long time customers specified ‘Indigo quality’ for digital,” Emmerson says. “It would be nice if they’d ask for ‘Jet Press quality’ as well, but it needs more than a dozen machines in the UK before they’ll notice. So yes, I’d like to see more Jet Press sales.”


SPECIFICATIONS

Process Single-pass inkjet

Max running speed 3,600sph simplex

Resolution 1,200x1,200dpi

Printheads Fujifilm Dimatix Samba

Print units CMYK plus primer

Inks Fujifilm Vividia aqueous plus primer

Max sheet size 750x585mm

Paper thickness 0.09-0.34mm (with carton configuration, 0.2-0.6mm)

Front end Fujifilm XMF workflow V6

Footprint 7.35x2.65m

Price About £1.1m

Contact Fujifilm UK 01234 572 000 www.fujifilm.eu


COMPANY PROFILE

Emmerson Press is a general commercial printing company in Kenilworth, with a mix of offset litho and digital presses. It was founded in 1981 by Brian Emmerson, who defined the core values as “unbelievable service and quality”. It employs 25 people and turnover last year was £3.5m. In addition to its Fujifilm 750S B2 inkjet press it runs two Heidelberg B2 litho presses plus a Heidelberg Linoprint C751 SRA3 digital toner press.

Why it was bought...

Director Jamie Emmerson and his operator were impressed with the improvments on the original machine and a sweet part-exchange offer from Fuji sealed the deal.

How it has performed...

Switching to the 750S has upped productivity and extended the range of litho stocks that can be handled. “It has boosted the digital turnover, certainly,” says Jamie Emmerson. “It’s comfortably doubled, some at the expense of litho, and some new.”

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