The weekly food shop. Not most people’s favourite activity. And yet imagine how much more tiresome this weekly ritual of jostling peevishly with other people’s trolleys and blinkering five-year-olds to treats would be if supermarkets were cluttered with ripped and broken POS collateral.
Luckily, for those of us who welcome tidy and inviting shopping environments, requests for lamination of POS materials are on the up.
Leicester-based digital and large-format printer Digital Wordcrafts has capitalised on this demand by bringing lamination in-house. “60%-75% of our customers are in the POS marketplace and the majority of our work is high-street POS in-store materials,” explains joint managing director Geoff Adams. “There was a big requirement from those firms for lamination, especially from stores that have staff making a mess of things, spilling their drinks and everything else. It increases the life of the products, which is what people like.”
Digital Wordcrafts began life in 1988 with only a single 36in solvent inkjet printer to its name. Today the firm runs a range of printers including a Vutek QS 2000 digital flatbed, a five-colour HP Indigo 3500 digital press and four Mimaki wide-format printers. It also operates finishing kit including a vinyl cutter, guillotines and bookletmakers. But it was still outsourcing its lamination work until earlier this year, when it invested in a Matrix Pneumatic MX-530P laminator from Vivid Laminating Technologies, which was first shown to the rest of the UK market at Ipex in March.
“We were spending an average of about £2,000 month on outsourcing laminating. It got to the point where bringing it in-house seemed like the logical thing to do,” explains Adams. “We already had a good relationship with Vivid as it’s local to us and we do a lot of print for the company. We got an early look at the MX-530P so I put my order in before everyone else at Ipex and it was installed in March.”
It was the machine’s pneumatic pressure feature that sealed the deal for Adams, who had decided against buying a laminator without this feature in the past due to the cost of getting a good finish on digital work.
“Before the pneumatic pressure feature, to get a result that we were happy with we would have had to use the SuperStick laminate film, which would have made it too expensive. But with the extra pressure on the pneumatic machine, we can use the standard laminate material, which has brought the cost down dramatically and made it financially viable to bring it in-house.”
Before making the purchase the company trialled the MX-530P at Vivid’s demonstration facilities. The idea of investing in a Matrix laminator had been on the table for a couple of years and so the firm didn’t feel the need to look at any alternatives.
“I felt like I already knew the machine and we already had a good relationship with Vivid. If I hadn’t been happy with the demonstration I might have looked further afield, but I was really pleased with it,” says Adams.
“We took our own printed sheets up there, which were from a very heavy coverage job. I wanted it to be crisp, clean, flat, quick and easy to use and it ticked all of the boxes.”
Installation and training was a relatively seamless process, with the training session taking around an hour. “There was a learning period after installation of about a week or two where we were getting comfortable with the speed and the right temperature to run it at,” explains Adams. “So there was a little bit of initial experimentation, but we’ve now got the settings that we’re happy with and leave it at that.”
And the MX-530P is extremely easy to set up, reports Adams. “For a short-run job, it takes two or three sheets to set it up and then you’re running. Even changing a roll of laminate only takes around two to three minutes.”
Since the MX-530P was installed, the company has used it daily on a range of different items. “It’s running for probably about 25% of each day. We laminate around 20% of the work that we produce, including POS material for stores including showcards, posters, literature stands and promotional items.”
Digital Wordcrafts has found the MX-530P to be invaluable for short-run jobs, with the machine enabling the firm to turn jobs around quickly. A lot of its customers request next-day lamination and it can now provide this service.
“It’s about taking that customer satisfaction up another level. Customers are very happy when they realise that they can get lamination done quickly without sacrificing quality. People still want a premium product even if they’ve only got half a day to get it done,” says Adams.
But the company still outsources longer runs of over 1,000 sheets, which it gets around once a week. “I would put out a job like that because a big commercial laminator is so much faster. It’s a balance of economics as well, if you factor in the cost of the laminate and the staff time. A job with 3,000 sheets double-sided would take a member of staff hours so I can put that out and that member of staff can be doing something else.”
One unforeseen issue that Digital Wordcrafts has discovered though is that the MX-530P isn’t able to accommodate every print job that the company offers with the laminate sheets that it currently uses. “If we’re pushing the sheets on printing the widest we can possibly print on the Indigo, which is a print area of 435mm, I couldn’t then laminate all of that print area because the laminator puts perforation down one edge to help it lift the sheets off. If you’re printing on a full print area of 435mm, that perforation would be in your print area,” explains Adams.
“I could probably count the number of jobs that’s created a problem with, over the past six months, on one hand, but it’s something that we’re aware of and we have to outsource any work like that,” says Adams.
David Smith, marketing and communications manager at Vivid, responds: “If the firm is running 440mm-wide film on an SRA3 sheet, which measures 450mm wide, and its Indigo print area is 435mm, then I can see that the perforation would cause an issue as it would be tight to the edge of the laminate. The firm would need to run wider film at either 445mm or 450mm widths.”
But Digital Wordcrafts is very pleased with the purchase overall and the service package that it gets from Vivid. “If we order lamination film it arrives the next day and if we have any problems there’s someone to help very quickly. We had a valve that went that we had to get replaced on the warranty and Vivid fixed it the next day,” says Adams.
Despite offering digital print services for 15 years without an in-house laminator, Adams reports that it’s made everything much easier since. “We’re very happy with the purchase. I like the convenience of having the laminator next to the press and the quality is very good; we’ve not had a single client notice the difference [between in-house and outsourced lamination].”
Adams says that the firm will happily continue working with Vivid, and will consider upgrading its laminator in the future. “At the moment you need to have someone at the front of the laminator feeding the sheets into the gripper. Having a fully automated feed will be an add-on that we’ll look at when the time comes.”
Vivid confirms that this feature will become available in the near future. “We will be launching a deep-pile feeder that will retro-fit to the Matrix and enable automatic feeding. This will be available in 2015,” says Vivid’s Smith.
Overall, Adams reports that the MX-530P has been a more than worthwhile investment for the firm, and one that he’d happily recommend to other digital printers. “I don’t feel that it would be fast enough to do litho quantities without an auto-feeder, but for the Indigo it’s perfect. As it has given us a cost saving of around £1,000 a month, it should pay for itself within a few months,” he concludes.
Max speed 10m/min
Max film width 510mm
Stock weight 135gsm and up
Temperature range 0-140°C
Warm-up time 10 mins
Control panel Multilingual LCD
Features Pneumatic pressure, retrofits to existing models, anti-curl technology, semi-automatic feed, automatic separator
Contact Vivid Laminating Technologies
03451 304050 www.vivid-online.com
Digital Wordcrafts is a Leicester-based online trade printer established in 1988. The £2m-turnover, 25-staff business is overseen by co-founders and joint managing directors Geoff Adams and Adrian Bingley. It produces items including POS, exhibition print, banners and signage and general print including business cards, flyers, brochures and leaflets for a range of customers including retailers, restaurants and councils. The company also runs a Vutek QS 2000 digital flatbed, a five-colour HP Indigo 3500 digital press, four Mimaki wide-format printers, and finishing kit including a vinyl cutter, guillotines and bookletmakers.
Why it was bought…
Digital Wordcrafts bought the Matrix Pneumatic MX-530P Vivid Laminator to bring its lamination services in-house to both save on outsourcing costs and increase its operational efficiency. After contemplating buying a Matrix laminator for a couple of years, the firm decided to take the plunge after seeing and testing the MX-530P at Vivid’s demo facilities earlier this year.
How it has performed…
The company has reportedly made cost savings of around £1,000 a month since buying the MX-530P, with the transition from outsourcing lamination to doing it in-house going seamlessly. “We’re very happy with the purchase. I like the convenience of having the laminator next to the press and the quality is very good; we’ve not had a single client notice the difference,” says Adams.