Historic can maker embraces 21st century technology

Jo Francis
Tuesday, February 9, 2021

A historic London can maker has embraced digital metal decorating through a co-operation with Tinmasters in Wales.

William Say & Co is excited about the growth potential for inkjet production
William Say & Co is excited about the growth potential for inkjet production

Last summer Swansea-based Tinmasters installed a Fujifilm Acuity B1 inkjet printer – the firm’s first inkjet device – as part of a technology partnership with Fujifilm aimed at establishing the potential for short-run and bespoke production in this specialist area of print.

William Say & Co makes a wide range of tin types, for clients including Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason. The business began life in 1910 and its eponymous founder then invented a packaging system for the booming tea trade in the 1920s.

Via Tinmasters, the firm commissioned a run of 100 unique full-colour tins to give to top customers at Christmas.

Stuart Wilkinson, marketing and sales director at William Say & Co, said the firm had been watching the advances being made in digital printing for some time. The business also previously teamed with Fujifilm to produce a small run of hot chocolate tins for a Fortnum & Mason window display.

“We’ve worked with Tinmasters for many years,” he said. “And now they have this partnership with Fujifilm, and the ability to print extremely high quality short-run work, they were perfectly placed to help us. We’re really excited about the growth potential inkjet offers our business and our industry and we wanted a way to clearly demonstrate this to our own customers.”

Fujifilm’s B1 Acuity was jointly-developed with Inca. It. can print onto a wide range of materials of different thicknesses, up to 10mm thick, and has a top speed of 200sph.

Kevin Jenner, business manager at Fujifilm Wide Format Inkjet Systems, said that he believed inkjet had the potential to transform metal decorating, in the same way as it has already had a bit impact on other parts of the industry.

“It’s happening later and more slowly than it has in other sectors – but it is happening. We’re proud to be driving that change and all the possibilities it brings, and we’re delighted to be working with companies like William Say and Tinmasters to make it a reality.”

At one time there were nearly 50 can makers in London, with William Say & Co being the last remaining business in the capital of this type. The firm is located in Southwark, in south-east London.

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