The Croydon-based company is in the process of installing two Screen Truepress Jet520 colour inkjet presses, the first in the UK to be configured with dye-based inks for direct mail and transactional applications.
The first of the two machines was installed earlier this month and is already running test sheets. The second machine was delivered last week. Both are expected to go into full production in early February.
The company undertook an exhaustive six-month evaluation process before opting for the web-fed Screen machines, looking at the offerings of Xerox-owned Impika as well as the HP T series.
“We decided that Screen was the best option for us, based on all of the usual criteria: the quality and flexibility of the technology, and the ability to turn work around quickly, also the pricing that it enables us to offer in the marketplace should be very competitive,” said Real Digital managing director David Laybourne.
Laybourne and Real’s sales and marketing director Chris Tag travelled to Japan to see Screen’s R&D facilities, which Laybourne said gave him “goose bumps”, adding that seeing some of the next generation technologies and “witnessing Screen’s long-term investment in inkjet” was an important factor in inking the deal.
He also praised the productivity and capability of the Screen Equios front-end the company opted for.
However, Laybourne said that in some ways opting for a dye-based version of the Truepress was a surprise for the company: “Our gut feeling was always that we would go pigment because, in theory, it offers a better range of colours, but when we analysed the technologies against the type of work we did and the papers we used, then we ended up with a dye-based machine as it offered better results.”
The 128m/min presses are being installed in a new press hall, which was formerly a warehouse at the site. Warehousing and storage has been moved to a unit a mile away from the production facility. In total, the print, data and fulfilment specialist spent £2.7m on the new Screen presses and presshall fit-out.
As a result of the investment, the company will decommission two Xerox Sedona mono lines in a couple of months, moving their work onto the Screen lines.
However, with the two new machines being four times faster than the Agfa Dotrix-based lines they join at Real, Laybourne said the increase in high-speed colour capacity at the firm would be “significant”.
To complement the new machines, the company will move two of its Hunkeler sheeters inline onto the 520mm-wide Truepress Jet520s. It is also looking at adding inline folding in the coming months.
The latest digital press spend, added to the raft of finishing kit the company installed in 2013, which included card-handling systems, a Bograma rotary die-cutter and a pharmaceutical folder, means the company has invested £3.5m in the past 12 months.
“2014 promises to be an exciting year for us, with everything in place to take our business forward,” said Laybourne.