Me & My: SwissQprint Nyala 4

Simon Eccles
Wednesday, February 15, 2023

A grant of £54,200 from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Growing Business Fund helped to fund a new 3.2x2m flatbed/roll printer at CIM Signs & Graphics, a sign printing and installation specialist based just to the north of Norwich.

Full marks: Baker (L) with operator Stone: “We have been singing from the rooftops about it”
Full marks: Baker (L) with operator Stone: “We have been singing from the rooftops about it”

The SwissQprint Nyala 4 3x2m flatbed/roll UV printer installed last April is CIM’s largest, fastest and most eco-friendly printer to date. The grant also went towards recruiting four new staff at CIM: an experienced printer, junior designer, sign maker and a skilled vehicle wrapper.

CIM stands for Creative Image Management. The company was founded in March 2000 as a signage company that could also do digital print, mainly for the van graphics market and general signage. 

Mark Baker has been managing director from the start. “We wanted to offer better designed products at a fair price, as we were often finding out that people would be happy to spend, rather than asking how cheap can it be done,” he says. 

“Our niche was being experienced in design, manufacture and install, all in-house. Offering much better value for money, ie a £500 set of graphics bought way more return on investment to the customer than the £150 they were used to from other people. We also made sure we delivered on time every time, no matter what size of job we had undertaken.”

Today, he says, “We relish print jobs like wide-format banners, direct prints on to Xanita and Katz board, foam PVC and textiles to stretch in aluminium frames. We have found great success in glass splashbacks, partnering with local glass suppliers. We also do point of sale display panels on Dibond and foam PVC.”

After its first eight years CIM moved to a modern industrial park in Rackheath, just off the main road between Norwich and Wroxham. It’s handily close to the recently opened Broadland Northway, a motorway-class dual carriageway that’s the northern arc of a planned outer ring road for Norwich. 

Customers are mainly local in East Anglia but some have been as far away as Manchester. They include QD Group, Mattressman, Batemans, Broadland Housing, Gasway, Mayday, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and The Alarm Company. 

“We do everything – design to install if it’s requested,” says Baker. “We have three plotters – a Summa and two Mimakis; an Epson SureColor S80600L 1.6m light solvent printer for printing wraps; a Canon Colorado 1650 for roll-to-roll; a Laserscript laser cutter; Blackman & White router/finishing table; a RollsRoller applicator table; and an industrial sewing machine for hemming, Kedar and Velcro tape finishing. RIPs are Caldera and Onyx.”

Why choose the SwissQprint Nyala?

“We had originally invested in an Agfa Anapurna 1.6m that served us well for seven years,” says Baker. “When that started to tire we went shopping, initially for another Agfa as the quality was good and could be used for flat sheet and roll-to-roll.

“We needed increased pace, increased width, but didn’t want to sacrifice quality. We looked at the 3.2m Agfa, which is belt-driven, we knew of the Canon Arizona, but the bed size is awkward, and we were going to look at a Vutek, but from a random Mailchimp advert we thought we would take a look at the SwissQprint Nyala. It’s a true flatbed with roll-to-roll conversion and 3.2m wide. It was a no brainer – perfect!”

He lists the reasons for choosing the Nyala: “The speed it can output whilst retaining very high quality. Also the fact you can add to it as you grow – we have already added another row of white heads. We are also able to take on larger jobs without the pressure of working through the night. 

“There’s confidence that the print quality will be amazing. It has flexibility to run 200 3x2m sheets, or small super-accurate labels/panels with minimal operator set-up. Then there’s the low energy running cost, vegan ink and the fact we can reduce our carbon footprint in a trade known for being wasteful.”

The grant from the New Anglia LEP only covered a part of the Nyala’s total cost, but it was a decider in the investment, says Baker: “We had to obtain the grant before committing to the purchase and it definitely gave us the gusto to commit – what an excellent saving along with the corporation tax!”

What is a Nyala 4?

It’s a large-format Swiss-made printer that can handle large, thick and heavy sheet material up to 3.2x2m as well as flexible rolls up to 3.2m wide and virtually unlimited length. Two 1.5m rolls can be fed, printed and re-reeled side by side. Larger boards up to 3.2x4m can be handled with extension tables. It can print on almost any surface, from doors to fabric, up to 50mm thick. Multiple passes can build up raised lettering and Braille, as well as textured surfaces.

The Tip Switch Vacuum controls 256 vacuum segments through a row of small switches in the edge of the bed, with no additional masking required. Baker likes the Nyala’s handling. “It’s easy enough to load and use, and compared to the belt-fed machines it so much more accurate.” 

It’s twice as fast as any of CIM’s other printers. Partly thanks to the UV-LED curing lamps, SwissQprint says the Nyala uses only 3kW to print 200sqm – the equivalent to a tennis court area – the same amount of electricity per hour as two electric kettles.

There can be 18 printheads with up to nine channels for CMYK plus a variety of white, clear and special inks. The UV-cured inks are solvent-free, vegan and Greenguard gold certified for low chemical and particle emissions indoors. 

What is it used for?

“We’ve printed on to a lot of timber – sterling board and ply – and glass that we wouldn’t have done before, plus a lot of Priplak polypropylene sheet. Also magnetic sheet and roller banners (sideways) and it has enabled mesh banners for Heras fencing, due to the width. Fabric backdrops and lightboxes as well have been awesome,” Baker says.

“We have also been producing mulitple- layer prints for art, Braille and close-up branding that needs to be more tactile than print on a panel.”

He praises the finished results: “It has a brilliant finish, especially using good quality sheet materials. The unique vacuum system is pretty clever if printing on unusual sized sheets.” On the other hand, he notes, “You can remove the vacuum during a print job, which could cause an issue. We had a few teething problems getting fabrics loaded and taut, but that’s as much operator as it is machine. We have had a few remaining issues with the white head producing the same perfect quality as the full colour output.”

How did the installation go?

It was supplied directly by SwissQprint, via its own UK office in Bracknell. “It was a wait from order to install – four months – but once delivered it was up in a few days and training was thorough,” says Baker. 

“Our operator Mark Stone is experienced on a true flatbed and roll-to-roll. As with all training there is a lot to take in and we had a few teething problems, like sussing the best printing methods for different materials, but it was no different to any machine – the bigger stuff is never plug and play.”

Service support by SwissQprint has been good, Baker says. “We did have some circuit board issues. They were on the case and helped us without question pretty quickly.”

What’s the best thing about the Nyala? “That’s a tough one – we love what it does and it does more that we hoped it would. It’s especially good on multiple-run sheet projects. The time from when you send a file to when it starts and completes printing is really slick.”

Would he recommend it to others? “100%. We have been singing from the rooftops about it, it’s made a real big difference to what we’ll test, what products we will put through it and how we have changed some of our production to utilise the machine.” 


SwissQprint Nyala 4

Process Piezo inkjet 18 heads, nine channels

Resolution 1,350dpi

Colours CMYK plus five from a choice of light cyan, light magenta, light black, orange, neon yellow, neon pink, primer, opaque white and clear varnish

Curing UV-LED

Max sheet size 3,200x2,030mm full bleed (3.2x4m with extension tables)

Max sheet thickness 50mm

Max sheet weight 100kg/sqm

Max roll width 3,200mm or 2x1,524mm

Throughput 206sqm/hr (fastest), 103sqm/hr (production), 70sqm/hr (quality), 37sqm/hr (fine art)

Price From £290,000 to £320,000 for a spec similar to CIM’s

Contact SwissQprint UK 01344 929580


CIM Signs & Graphics

CIM Signs & Graphics is a sign specialist with digital printing and finishing facilities, founded in 2000. It’s located just north of Norwich and employs a mix of flatbed and roll-fed printers with solvent, UV or UVgel, inks, plus cutting tables and other finishing equipment. 

The SwissQprint Nyala 4 flatbed/roll printer was installed in April 2022 and is twice the speed of CIM’s previous equipment, as well as being more economical and using eco-friendly inks.

Why it was bought...

Wih a seven-year-old printer beginning to tire, CIM knew it needed to replace it with something that would be faster and wider without sacrificing quality.

How has it performed... 

“Since the Nyala was installed we have found far fewer bottlenecks in production, a much faster process of booking work in, and miles fewer re-prints or quality issues,” says managng director Mark Baker.

“With the exhibition and conference trade gearing up again last year it was great being able to offer so many green solutions on a green machine. We are gearing our marketing and planning around the workload we want to produce on the Nyala.”

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