Matthews the Printers is looking to extend its market reach as it starts to produce commercial work on the UK’s first Kodak Nexfinity with a print quality reportedly “far superior to litho”.
The press was installed at the Chingford, London-based operation in October last year. It has been officially added to Matthews’ roster of services for clients as of 18 February. The firm will migrate the bulk of its shorter-run litho work over to the five-colour machine.
While Matthews already runs a digital print service on a variety of digital engines, this represents a step up to the “next generation” of the technology, according to managing director Christopher Riddell.
He said: “We have never had something of the Nexfinity’s level in our digital department and we have been looking for around six to nine months for something that could enhance our operations and take on our short-run litho jobs.
“Various options were considered, but when we ran a blind quality test with our staff, the Nexfinity scored highest. This, and a visit to another user in Holland who printed one-off copies of photobooks on theirs, was the driving force behind our decision.
“Print runs are shortening in general so I think the machine is coming into its own in the current market. We are able to produce specific client-defined colours like bright greens and special reds. On a run of watch brochures we recently produced, the shadows, highlights and detail were far superior to litho.”
With a list price of around €750,000 (£650,000), the Nexfinity uses Kodak’s dynamic multi-bit LED imaging technology to increase the density of information to be imaged by four times compared with its predecessor, the NexPress, offering 1,200dpi and 256 exposure levels to increase detail in highlight and shadow areas. It was unveiled by Kodak in March last year.
Designed to compete with Xerox’s iGen 5, HP’s Indigo 7 Series and 12000, it runs at print speeds from 83 to 152ppm and Matthews' machine has been configured to take sheet lengths up to 1m. Handling coated and uncoated stocks up to 530gsm, it opens up to Matthews the possibility of packaging applications.
Though the packaging avenue has yet to be fully explored by the firm, Riddell said the main focuses of the new arrival would be on consolidating Matthews’ standing in the retail and leisure commercial markets, as well as exploring luxury applications.
With 80 staff on its books, Matthews the Printers continues to run litho jobs on its Komori equipment. Riddell said 2019 would be a “consolidation year” for the firm, though he hopes to break the £10m mark in sales.