Digital Sign Services has upgraded its capabilities after investing circa £1m in two EFI Vutek 5r+ LED 5.2m-wide roll-to-roll printers.
The first 5r+, a four-colour plus white machine, was up and running at the Guildford-based business by 1 January this year while the second, which will run seven colours plus white, is due to be installed in the last week of July.
The company said the two machines will boost its production firepower for high-volume, high-end graphics, as well as enabling it to split production when required.
The printers’ green cool-cure LED technology, meanwhile, will improve the firm’s sustainability and provide cost savings as this process requires up to 82% less energy compared with traditional UV or latex printing.
“It was always our plan to get two 5r+s because we’re replacing our two 5m GS5000rs,” said Digital Sign Services managing director Tom Weaver.
“It’s an upgrade for us; the GS5000rs were getting slightly more unreliable and because of certain materials that we run, like fabrics, the UV lamps were having to run on the highest settings, which were causing their lifespan to be very short.
“It was both costly and not good for the environment to have these mercury vapour lamps that are very difficult to dispose of ethically. So that was a driving force on it, as was keeping up with the newer technology.
“There is a very slight speed increase and considerably better ink yield from the 5r+, so there is a cost saving there, but the purchase was more to do with us having the reliability that we require without any decrease in quality.”
The 5r+ offers improved media handling on its predecessors, with new white ink printing modes with faster speeds. Resolution is up to 1,200dpi and new options include automated backlit and blockout printing – features that Weaver said Digital Sign Services is impressed with and is already widely using.
The lower-heat/lower-energy curing process also means the business can successfully print on thin or delicate substrates that cannot withstand the heat required with latex and UV printers.
Weaver said the 5r+’s ability to easily handle five-layer printing, a digital printing technique often used for retail window graphics to ensure correct densities when viewed from inside or outside the store, should also provide future business opportunities.
Digital Sign Services works purely in trade services, specialising in large-format printing for retail signage, windows and POS.
A long-term EFI customer, the business also operates a Vutek GS3250lx Pro hybrid roll-to-roll/flatbed LED printer and a Vutek FabriVU 340 dye-sub printer.
“The big reasons why we choose EFI again and again are their after-sales care and their response to any issues or problems we may have,” said Weaver.
Digital Sign Services employs 38 staff, up from 28 three years ago, and has extended its shift pattern since the first 5r+ went in, now printing from 7.30am to 10pm – it previously printed until 5pm – from Monday to Thursday.