Surface Print Company makes first wide-format digital investment

Simon Nias
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lancashire-based wallpaper printer The Surface Print Company has invested in its first two digital wide-format printers as it looks to tap into the growing market for digitally-printed wallpaper.

The family-owned business, which is the UK's only flock wallpaper manufacturer, has bought a 3.2m wide HP Latex 3000 printer to allow it to produce one-off and bespoke digitally-printed wallpapers and a 1.5m wide Latex 260 printer.

Abigail Watson, sales director at The Surface Print Company, said that while the Latex 260 had originally been bought to provide samples for the Latex 3000, it was also being used to provide a quick sample service for the firm's traditional wallpapers.

"We’ve already had customers who are going to be printing on the traditional machines use the Latex 260 for sampling," she said. "A digital sample is not going to look like a machine piece, but it gives a good idea and it’s very quick – the customers who have used it were really pleased with how quickly they could get to grip with the colouring."

According to Watson the total investment in setting up the digital suite, including the equipment, digital front end, software, building works and air conditioning was around £400,000. The firm has also taken on new staff as a result of the digital investment and general growth.

Watson said that while digital was still very much a niche market in wallpaper printing, it was growing and had a number of unique benefits versus traditional wallpaper printing.

"We’re finding that our customers, who already print using a wide range of our textural techniques – like flock and beads – are starting to print digital. At the moment it’s a small market and it will never replace something like flock or beads because it can’t give the texture, but it certainly is a growth market and it has the benefits of no maximum colours and no repeats," she said.

Watson added: "Our traditional business is mainly done on non-wovens and we also print a lot onto foils now. We can print the same substrates with the digital printer, but it gives us more flexibility on widths versus our traditional presses, which print the standard 52cm or 68.5cm widths. With the digital we can print any width up to 3m."

The two HP latex printers were delivered to the firm earlier this month by CWE Solutions.

HP's Latex 3000 printer was launched at Fespa 2013; it can print at speeds of up to 77sqm/hr for indoor use and up to 120sqm/hr for outdoor graphics. It can print onto a wide range of substrates including wallpapers, foils, nonwovens and vinyls.





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