LumeJet Print Technologies (LPT) has gone into liquidation, three years after it was established after the original LumeJet business went into administration.
LPT was formed in Coventry in 2015 after the original business model, based around selling its specialist photonic digital printing equipment, failed.
Trevor Elworthy, the former Kodak research scientist who invented the LumeJet process, which involves photonic inkless printing technology, told PrintWeek: “We started selling [the LumeJet S200] machines around 2013. They went mainly into the printing sector for high-end book-making type products.
“They only printed at around 40 seconds per linear metre, but it was very specialist and high quality.”
Elworthy said “a shareholder revolt” followed LumeJet’s attempts to raise further funding in 2015. The failed attempt at refinancing led to its entry into administration and the subsequent formation of LPT.
The new company decided to resurrect the operation as a trade print service and secured all of LumeJet’s business and assets including the intellectual property, five machines already in stock and equipment still being built, as well as various other projects still in progress.
LPT also bought back all of the previously installed LumeJet machines in the market to ensure that it could offer LumeJet printing exclusively to its customers.
After a year primarily working for photography clients, in 2016 the business officially launched its partner printing programme, whereby it began to offer high-end LumeJet printing as a service to commercial printers.
While Elworthy said the business “was starting to see incremental growth”, it was unable to secure the additional funding it required to move the business forward.
“We tried very hard for a long period of time to raise more money and we were speaking to quite a lot of people who were interested or potentially interested,” LPT investor and non-executive chairman Huw Williams told PrintWeek.
“We had several hundred thousand pounds of money lined up but we needed at least £1m to keep going and we couldn’t raise that. We weren’t able to get big enough fast enough to make it work.”
Nick Edwards and Graham Bushby of RSM Restructuring Advisory were appointed as liquidators of LPT on 8 November and all of its 10 staff were made redundant.
Shareholders lost around £3.5m between them according to Williams, who has a debenture on the IP of the LumeJet technology but said he does not anticipate any recovery from it.
For the last few years Elworthy had also been working with Plessey Semiconductors on a high-speed single pass industrial print version of the LumeJet technology.
Instead of using a moving printhead, as in the LumeJet S200 printer, LumeBar comprises several thousand individually addressable micron-sized LED emitters to provide a ‘page-wide’ digital print bar that exposes directly onto designated areas of photo-sensitive media.
Each LumeBar is custom-built, tailored for wavelength and spot size, and specifically designed for fast throughput and higher output.
“I hope there will be a future for this technology,” said Elworthy, who also works closely with Plessey Semiconductors on micro-LEDs for other applications.
“The next step for me, if there is funding, is to take that technology into a page-wide printhead. Inkless printing at two metres per second is a very interesting proposition.”