The Gloucester-based firm installed the machine around six weeks ago to ensure it would be ready in the run-up to its pre-Christmas peak period, which repro manager Luke Ostle said had been “crazy”.
Alpha is also due to install new letterpress kit next week.
Ostle described the Heidelberg digital front-end (DFE), which Alpha has also installed, as a “gamechanger”, connecting its two Versafires as well as its Heidelberg litho kit.
He said: “With the quality of the last [Versafire], we knew straight away we wanted another to run alongside it because we’ve now got Heidelberg Prinect software and the DFE is perfect for us – at the click of a button we can run anything through our system. When people get a PDF or a hard copy from digital that’s exactly what you’re going to get at the end.
“The quality and the consistency of colour is just brilliant, with the older machine we have a scanner and other configurations, which really helps, but it’s just the quality really, if you just leave these running, walk away and come back the job at the end is ready to go.”
The four-colour Versafire prints at a top speed of 130ppm simplex. It prints on a variety of substrates of between 52-360gsm, taking sheets up to 330x700mm.
Printing mostly short-run brochures and leaflets, Alpha specified a standard configuration for the new machine, deciding not to opt for the long-sheet feeder and fifth colour unit that its first Versafire was configured with.
Ostle said: "We didn’t know where we’d be without this machine, before I thought ‘is it the right time to invest?’ but now we haven’t looked back – couldn’t live without it.
“Digital is moving forward so quickly and quality is so good, we can do the likes of textured boards and meet all of our customer’s requirements.”
35-staff Alpha also runs two Speedmaster XL litho presses, one of which is four-back-one for greeting card jobs, Mimaki wide-format kit and offers a variety of finishing services, including foiling and embossing.