WAE Group has installed the UK's first Longier Hunter FP-3750 LED flatbed printer to produce high-quality work quickly and offer user-friendly operation.
The kit went into the firm's Leeds print room just over a month ago and is an addition to the wide-format printer's existing kit line up. The new arrival cost £82,000.
Signage specialist WAE prints hoardings, health-&-safety signs and commercial estate boards for the construction sector and hospitals, as well as POS work. It also runs an Agfa Anapurna M2050 and an Inca Spyder V.
Managing director Paul Austin: “We needed extra capacity. We couldn't keep up with demand and were getting stuck with orders.”
WAE Group has 38 staff and turned over £2.7m last year, a 20% jump on 2013. Austin said he hoped the new kit would add around £200,000 to turnover this year.
Recent contract wins included work for an expanding hotel and an expanding pub chain as well as printing for the UK's first 'surf park', in Snowdonia.
He said his ink supplier QPS recommended the Longier, prompting him to check out the FR-3750 flatbed on a carton-printing demo in Cambridge.
“We saw the roll-to-roll demonstrator in action and were impressed by the fine print – it's very clear all the way down to a very small point, just what's needed for POS.
“The LED curing piqued our interest: we don't have to prep materials before printing – there are no adhesion issues.
“The machine runs at about 40-50sqm/hr, fast for an LED machine. It measures 2.5x1.4m, which is a slightly odd size, but is about £50,000 cheaper than rival kit.
“The good thing with LED is we can run more sensitive materials that mercury lamps would have warped. We can print on thin PVC without worrying about curling caused by lamp.
“The water-cooled LED lamps are also cheaper than conventional mercury vapour lamps and don't have to be replaced as often. Power consumption is lower than conventional UV.”
Once installed, WAE Group also found the Longier, running Nazdar digital inks from QPS, printed faster than its existing machines and reduced its consumables costs.
“Print quality is fantastic and the white ink particularly goes down very well – we've reverse printed with white onto 8mm clear acrylic and it looks great. The machine also prints on glass,” said Austin.
“It's also very user-friendly and quicker to set up in the morning and shut down at night than our other machines. We're really happy with it.”