Me & my: Roland DG TrueVis VG-640

By Simon Eccles, Monday 06 February 2017

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Over the past 10 years Perth-based husband-and-wife team Gary and Elizabeth Paterson have expanded from running a graphic design business in a converted garage into a full creative service with printing and finishing facilities.

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Paterson: The VG-640 “ticked all the boxes”

Last year the company installed the first Roland TrueVis VG-640 large-format inkjet printer-cutter in Scotland. This has proved a very versatile machine and is being used for a wide range of applications on different materials. It will also be the mainstay of a personalised digital wall-paper service that is getting a big promotional boost this month with a new dedicated website: www.wallstgo.co.uk.

T’Go Creative also offers short-run commercial print, such as business cards, flyers and promotional leaflets, handled by a cut-sheet Xerox Color 560 compact 60ppm digital press. 

The business was started by Gary Paterson in 2007 as a sole trader working alone from home in a converted single garage. “It was kept small and perfectly filled the gap in the market for a local freelance graphic designer,” he says. “Over the past two years the children started nursery and school and the time was perfect to focus on growing the business. In September 2015 the business expanded into a studio space in the Inveralmond Business Centre and the quick growth since then has been carried out through investment in employees, the premises and the equipment.”

Clients, who are predominantly local, range from new start-up businesses looking for branding and websites through to property companies needing brochures and other marketing support printing. “The latest contract win, the Perth Racecourse, requires continuous support in design and print throughout the season. The company also works closely with hotels and even the creators of the number one chocolate truffle in the world!”

The company’s first wide-format printer was a Canon imagePrograf 8100, a 44in (1,117mm) 12-colour aqueous pigment ink printer. “It was bought in 2007 specifically for the production of nightclub posters for my largest client at the time, who was also our first client,” says Paterson. 

The adoption of eco-solvent ink with the Roland came because customers were asking for more diverse products and media, he says. “I could see what jobs we were outsourcing and so I decided that a printer that could cover many different applications would be suited perfectly to T’Go Creative. 

“We had the pigment ink printer that we could use when required, although we have not used it since we got the Roland. That left me looking at Latex or eco-solvent. Eco-solvent won. Latex was still relatively new and there were not so many materials available. 

“Roland had just introduced the VG-640 and it was a visit to Sign & Digital UK, specifically to see it in action, that sold it to me. At the time we were the only company in Scotland to have a TrueVis installed.”

What’s a VG-640?

Roland Digital Graphics’ TrueVis VG series are the widest of the company’s current printer-cutters, with a choice of 54in (1,371mm) or 64in (1,625mm) versions. They were introduced at Fespa 2016 and followed on from the original VersaCamm family. 

 They feature new-generation eco-solvent inks, and a new head/knife carriage with a new blade type giving increased downforce for cutting.

The FlexFire printheads can generate three drop sizes – large for faster coverage, with medium and small for increased fine detail.

The standard quality mode for this printer runs at up to 8.3m2/hr, though as with any such printer the throughput can be varied by different quality choices. 

There’s a choice of three inksets: dual CMYK, CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta and light black, or the same again with white. 

“We opted for the CMYK with light cyan, magenta and black as we wanted to be able to offer a higher quality,” says Paterson. 

“It was skin tones that I noticed the most difference between the dual-CMYK and the CMYK with extra light colours.”

While Paterson visited Sign & Digital specifically to see this machine, it wasn’t necessarily a shoo-in. “We did look into the machines from Mimaki and Latex models from HP,” Paterson says. “However the newly released VG-640 was, I felt personally, more suited to our business as it just seemed to tick all of the boxes. As studio space is limited, having both the print and cut functionality in the same machine made perfect sense to us.

“We wanted a machine that would be reliable and help the business grow. And the Roland DG name is regarded as one of the best in the industry. It is a significant investment for the business and I wanted to make sure I made the right decision for the future.”

Installation was carried out without a hitch, says Paterson. “We ordered the printer from Printmax who I cannot fault. I had made contact with them before Sign & Digital in 2016 and decided to head down to see it in action. I dealt with Chris, who had all my information to hand at the show. 

“Due to the shape of the building we had to have part of the sheeting and wall removed to get the printer in and then Simon from Printmax flew up to install it over two days.”

Roland supplies the VG-640 with its own VersaWorks Dual front-end RIP as standard. “We are 100% Mac-based and the only issue we have is that we are having to use Versaworks Dual on a PC,” says Paterson. “I cannot find my way around a PC any more! This is more of a personal thing however. The software does everything we would need it to do.”

Flexible friend

Being able to handle practically everything in-house has paid off, Paterson says. “We previously had to turn some clients away or we lost out on work as we had to add a percentage on top of our suppliers’ cost and became less competitive. We are now able to offer a wide range of in-house services and take on jobs we wouldn’t have considered before.”

He lists some of these: t-shirt and garment printing through print and cut garment films, signage, PVC banners, roller banners, posters, wallpaper, labels and stickers. Wallpaper and stretch canvas is a relatively new and growing area, Paterson says. 

“I realised there is an untapped market locally for something completely different. Wallpaper is something that I had previously explored with the large-format pigment ink printer but part of the reason for the purchase of the new VG-640 was to break into the home decor market. This is adding another string to the bow of the T’Go Creative team and it is set to be huge. The new machine, and our position as graphic designers, enables us to create some incredible wallpapers at a fantastic quality.”

So, would he buy it again? “I would absolutely recommend the VG-640. I can only compare it against our Canon iPF8100 in terms of personally owned machines, but the value it has added to the business and the quality of output and, so far, the reliability has proved that we made the right decision for our business.” 


SPECIFICATIONS

Process Inkjet with integrated blade cutter

Ink TrueVis third-generation eco-solvent

Ink supply 500ml pouches

Colours CMYK, light cyan, light magenta, light black (plus white option)

Max media width 1,625mm

Max print width 1,600mm

Min media width 201mm

Max media thickness 1mm

Resolution 900dpi

Throughput cutting speed 10 to 300mm/second

Software VersaWorks Dual RIP

Footprint 2,945x745mm

Weight 205kg with stand

Price £16,499 Ink £75.99 per 500ml pouch

Contact Roland DG UK 0845 230 9060 www.rolanddg.co.uk


COMPANY PROFILE 

“T’Go Creative is an award-winning multi-discipline design agency with a full skill set, that cannot be found under one roof, elsewhere in Perthshire,” says joint owner Gary Paterson. The company offers a range of digital print services, from business cards and flyers to large-format posters, t-shirts, banners, signage and a new personalised wallpaper service. 

Originally set up in a converted garage, the company now occupies space in the modern Inveralmond Business Centre on the outskirts of Perth. 

“We operate with three in-house designers, a part-time operations manager and we’ve recruited a fourth full-time designer who will join us in February 2017,” Paterson says. “We also have freelance designers on-hand and we work alongside photographers, copywriters, printers and finishers.” 

In-house print equipment includes a Xerox Color 560 SRA3 cut-sheet colour printer, the Roland TrueVis VG-640 roll-fed eco-solvent printer-cutter, and it still has the aqueous pigment Canon imagePrograf 8100, though this isn’t used much now. 

Why it was bought...

Paterson was looking to ramp up the business and wanted a versatile wide-format machine that would be able to produce a wide variety of different jobs and help the business break into new markets.

How it has performed...

“The machine has been a huge asset to us,” Paterson says. “We have gained new clients, we have increased profit as we can produce many items in-house that we previously had to outsource, we have decreased turnaround times and we have also introduced completely new products and services that we had not previously considered.”

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