Bell & Bain in Ricoh book printing first

By Max Goldbart, Thursday 29 June 2017

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Scottish book printer Bell & Bain has become the first European book printer to take a Ricoh Pro VC60000 in a £1m-plus investment.

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From left: Bell & Bain sales director Tony Campbell, Docherty and operations director Karen Baillie

It is also the first printer in Scotland to take the 2014-launched high-speed inkjet system.

The Glasgow-based, 186-year-old outfit will bring in the machine in late August and have it up and running by September. It is intended as an addition to its digital fleet, although its Fujifilm Jet Press 540W, purchased in 2013, will now take a backseat, according to managing director Stephen Docherty.

“We had a good look and I wanted to get the Ricoh because I thought it was the most consistent quality. I wanted to check out a few technologies in the market, which I did, but none of them came close at all,” said Docherty.

“Bell & Bain is all about our customers and we are a huge journal printer as well as a book printer, which is a different consideration for us. Normally for these jobs we print on 70gsm coated paper and getting inks to settle on these papers is difficult, but the Ricoh handles it absolutely perfectly.

“There’s nothing that close to litho out there, nothing, but what you’ve got to try and do is get the best to get the customer exactly what they want. We can easily print 250 litho copies just as easily as digital so we’ve got that fantastic innovation but Bell & Bain is a quality printer and we want quality digital. I’m very excited about it because it’s a massive decision, the hardest decision to make.”

The machine is intended for high-volume production, printing at speeds of up to 120m/min, which can produce up to 40 million impressions per month. With a web width of 165mm to 520mm, it features multi-drop inkjet heads that produce 1,200dpi quality. 

It also comes with Ricoh’s TotalFlow BatchBuilder, which automates short-run digital production. Docherty said he considered configuring the machine with a pre-coater but decided it was less expensive to use pre-treated papers with the press.

He added: “The market is drifting; it doesn’t know where it wants to be, but what I can say is that I know when I’m printing I won’t have to worry about it. Making my life easier, that is the goal.”

Having invested more than £1m in April in a finishing world first, 129-staff Bell & Bain intends to boost its £13.4m turnover by more than £1m by the end of next year. Docherty said the next big investment is likely to be a new four-colour press in 2018. It currently runs one Heidelberg and four KBA litho presses, including a four-back-four Rapida 145 installed in late 2015.

Earlier this year, Ricoh announced details of its VC40000, which is intended to sit between the VC60000 and its lower-volume IP5000. It will begin shipping in Q4 2017. 

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