Newnorth Print has taken its first steps into wide-format to help diversify its business and, separately, beefed up its folding firepower.
Along with the Epson SureColor S60600 wide-format printer, it also purchased a Heidelberg Stahlfolder KH 82, which was signed for at Drupa and became fully operational this week.
The Epson was installed around one month ago and is Newnorth’s first wide-format machine.
Newnorth operations director David Hennessy said: “Because the litho market is competitive, there are people in the short-run magazine industry that have spent millions of pounds to commoditise that side of the market, which is fine, but they are geared towards doing that.
“We could do that but you are outlaying millions of pounds to compete on price; it doesn’t make sense. So we looked at our business and thought it would be worth opening up other offerings to clients.
“The Epson purchase was quite leftfield but the quality is excellent, running costs are remarkably low and maintenance is very low.”
The Epson has a list price of £17,300 and can handle substrates up to 1mm thick on rolls up to 1.6m wide. It can prints at speeds of up to 51sqm/hr on banner and 29sqm/hr on vinyl.
“It’s been amazing, just absolutely out of nowhere we have tonnes of work,” added Hennessy.
The new folder can handle sheet sizes from 140x180mm up to 820x1,200mm and replaces two outgoing folders, one non-automatic KH 82 and a smaller Stahlfolder KC 66. It has been supplied with the Palamides Alpha 500hd delivery system.
The team at Newnorth trialled the machine in Heidelberg’s showroom and looked at two other vendors at Drupa before settling on it. Hennessy said it had mainly been purchased to reduce bottlenecks and to increase automation as the Kempston, Bedfordshire-based printer has struggled to find staff for its finishing department.
“You can either throw in more resources or automate," added Hennessy.
"So where we have been struggling to find good operators, this seemed a logical thing to do, put something in that is fast and can deal with jobs.”
Newnorth also runs Mitsubishi and Heidelberg litho presses, along with having an all-Heidelberg finishing department.
On the digital side, it runs an HP Indigo 5600.
The 60-staff outfit turned over just less than £7m last year and is on track for a similar number this year.