Plastic Formers has taken on the UK’s first EFI H1625 SuperDraw, taking its first steps into digital print.
The Manchester-based plastic fabricator added the machine to its kit line-up in late December in a deal with distributor CMYUK for £110,000. It will enable the firm to expand its product range, which comprises fabricated, moulded and engineered plastic components to fulfil a variety of practical and promotional purposes.
The 1.6m-wide H1625-SD will help Plastic Formers reduce the amount of manual screen printing required to complete its jobs. It prints directly onto a wide range of thermoformable plastics.
“Over the past five years we have been looking at a lot of printing machines that have not been right for us,” said technical director Daniel Jepson. “With some digital printers, the printing ink cracks off as soon as it is hit with a laser, which might mean we need to use an activator during printing, or another problem was that some of their white inks were actually cream.
“With this EFI machine, I was able to go to CMYUK’s demo centre and test out printing on all kinds of substrates. I then abused the finished products with as many heat-related processes as I could and the H1625-SD’s output passed every single one.”
Jepson tested the printed media from the H1625-SD with 15 different processes used regularly by Plastic Formers, including laser cutting, CNC cutting, blow moulding, vacuum forming, hot wire bending and saw cutting.
He said: “Many other companies had not tested their machines in these ways. EFI and CMYUK were the only ones confident in their ability to accommodate how we work. Now we have added flexibility and can solve nearly any problem we come across.”
EFI’s H1625-SD was described by Jepson as the “holy grail” for the firm's needs due to its white ink, instant curing and laser proofing. It can print up to 1,200dpi with four and eight levels of greyscale.
Plastic Formers’ portfolio includes two manual screen presses and 10 CNC beds from Zünd – six of which are set up for laser cutting and the other four for non-laser jobs. Runs at the firm tend to be short and low-volume, according to Jepson.
The £4m-turnover business employs 70 staff at its 3,900sqm premises. It will continue to look at different departments to introduce new technology over the year, as Jepson said “if you aren’t upgrading, you are standing still or going backwards”.