4-Print takes first step into digital


Surrey-based commercial printer 4-Print has entered the world of digital, investing in a Heidelberg Versafire CP digital press.

The West Molesey-based outfit will take the new machine on Friday (9 June), along with a Heidelberg Suprasetter A75, which will replace a 10-year-old S74 Suprasetter.

4-Print managing director Nigel Fountain said the decision had been under consideration for around a year and that the Versafire’s ability to print 6-page A4 will give his business an added advantage in the marketplace. He said it would mainly be used for circa-500 runs of commercial work. 

Fountain said: “This represents a market drive. I’m litho and have been for many years but I’m getting more and more feedback saying that digital is required. If it’s a requirement for smaller runs, the industry has changed and I’ve got to embrace that. I would say I’m a little bit late but it’s time to do both and to have the facilities to produce litho and digital should put us in good stead.”

The machine will link directly with 4-Print’s Prinect workflow, which is already used by its existing Heidelberg Speedmasters: a six-colour SM 74 and five-colour SM 52. 

The four-colour Versafire, which Fountain has opted to install without its optional fifth unit, prints at maximum speeds of up to 130ppm simplex at a maximum resolution of 1,200x4,800dpi. It prints on a variety of substrates at thickness of 52-400gsm, taking sheet size of up to 330mmx700mm, which Fountain cited as another advantage. 

“We went to the marketplace, found out who was using what and on the back of that made the decision,” he added.

“So it was thoroughly checked, quality first from our point of view and then once we’d found a machine that we liked we found out how popular it was in the market rather than the other way round.

“We know digital isn’t litho but there is a market for high-quality digital and it does produce that.” 

Fountain added that the Suprasetter had been a necessary buy and that it is important to “keep these things in check”.

Having joined 4-Print as a driver in 1984, Fountain led an MBO of the 11-staff business, which is now looking to recruit additional members of production staff, in 2011. Founded in 1982, it produces a variety of commercial work. Along with the Speedmasters, it runs two folders, two guillotines and a stitching line. 

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