When London-based on-demand print specialist Rapidity acquired Lefa Print in Sidcup in early 2018, it was a watershed moment for the former. Rapidity was founded in the mid-1980s in the basement of a building in Shoreditch and the main restraint to growth over its 30-year plus existence was the size of its premises.
However, snapping up Lefa gave it an additional 1,400m² building in a good location that Rapidity managing director Paul Manning said “ticked all the boxes” and would take the company to the next level. And so it has proven. Since adding the new premises, which it refurbished, Rapidity has continued to go from strength to strength, helped in no small part by the B2 HP Indigo 12000 press that was installed last year, which for a few brief months belonged to SP Group.
The Redditch-based point-of-sale printer took delivery of two new HP Indigo 12000 digital presses in May 2018, but the company ceased production and began winding down operations in August the same year.
Ben Manning, production director at Rapidity, says that although the machine had been installed for a few months, it had never really been run. “It was effectively a brand new machine,” he says.
The company decided to take delivery of the HP Indigo 12000 in October last year at the same time as the premises it acquired from Lefa were undergoing refurbishment. As a result, it was covered with a tarpaulin and kept in situ for a few months while the refurbishment work was completed.
Manning says the company, which already ran two HP Indigo 7900s, had been considering adding to its armoury of presses when the opportunity to buy one of SP Group’s 12000s arose.
“The business has grown rapidly over the past three years and we’ve managed to produce a consistently high volume through the existing 7900s, which is an achievement we’re proud of,” he says.
“In London, we were always restricted in terms of what machinery we could install due to the location – we could never have installed a machine of this size. However, the new building in Sidcup offered us much more space and we felt the time was right to increase our offering and put the B2 machine in.”
The investment was also in part made to take the strain off the 7900s, which were handling significant impression volumes. Manning says the company did consider other options such as B2 inkjet presses, but the capabilities of the Indigo 12000, which include the ability to print on both sides of the sheet, best fit Rapidity’s requirements.
The 12000 also received glowing endorsements from some of Rapidity’s UK print contacts.
“The machine had a lot of positive feedback from other printers that had installed them and we also had a close look at it in Barcelona,” says Manning. “We had considered buying
an HP Indigo 10000 in the past, but we heard they weren’t that stable. However, we knew the 12000 had made a big impact for other printers.”
The fact that Rapidity’s team were already familiar with HP’s technology thanks to operating the 7900s also played a factor in the decision-making process as it meant machine operators would be able to quickly and easily transition to the new device, which is specified with the white ink and thick substrate kit options.
The HP Indigo 12000 is built on the company’s best-selling 10000 press. It uses HP Indigo’s liquid ElectroInk technology, which is capable of reaching up to 97% of Pantone colours. The machine can print B2-sized colour sheets at speeds of up to 4,600 sheets per hour – HP claims it can produce more than two million colour sheets per month.
It can also produce 4,600 duplex monochrome sheets per hour. HP says the Indigo 12000 can comfortably print on substrates such as canvas, synthetics and metallised media, and handle substrates from 70gsm to 400gsm and 75 to 450 microns in thickness, including coated, uncoated, coloured and dark papers, and paperboard for folding cartons. Manning says that essentially the technology underpinning the machine is the same as previous incarnations “only bigger”.
Following the completion of the refurbishment of the Sidcup building, the machine was moved into its permanent home on the factory floor, the tarpaulin was taken off and the machine was booted up. Operators got up to speed on the new machine straight away and Rapidity started to migrate work away from its litho presses and the 7900s onto the press.
“We shut our litho operation down in December and we’ve managed to retain a lot of that work and switch it from litho to digital,” says Manning. “The Indigo 12000 has also increased our ability to produce more work and opened up new areas of work for us such as POS and short run packaging.”
As a result, he says the company has been “really happy” with its latest investment – so much so that when pushed to pinpoint any problems with the Indigo 12000 since installation, no matter how minor, he struggles to come up with anything. “The only issue you have with a machine like this is it’s quite hungry, so you have to get the sales team to feed it.”
He adds that the service offered by HP has also been top notch on the rare occasions it’s been required and that the company invests in the development of its operators, who are all trained to NVQ level three, so that the majority of issues can be dealt with swiftly on-site.
“The machine has been very stable and it’s not caused us any problems,” says Manning. “We can stock parts and do a lot of things ourselves, which is a strategy that has served us quite well.”
He adds that since Rapidity has started using the machine, he’s been blown away by the sheer volume and variety of work that it can bang out. “We can use a wide range of stocks and produce work that we haven’t been able to do in the past,” says Manning. “It’s been incredibly reliable and it’s far superior to the [Indigo] 10000.”
Manning can’t find any fault with the machine and claims there is nothing it doesn’t already have that he would like it to have. That’s reinforced when he’s asked if he would consider buying another one or recommend the HP Indigo 12000 to another printing company. “Absolutely I would,” he responds swiftly.
Process Liquid toner electrophotography
Speeds 3,450sph (4/0), 4,600sph (EPM 3/0), 1,725sph (4/4)
Max sheet size 750x530mm
Stock weights 70-400gsm (90-400 for coated)
Price About £1.5m with click charging
Contact HP 01344 363368
Rapidity was founded in 1986 as a small litho printer in the basement of a building in Shoreditch. Ben Manning says the company was an early adopter of digital print technology and was one of the first UK companies to take the Xerox DocuTech. The company added large format printing to its customer offer around three-and-a-half years ago and in the last couple of years, it made the conscious decision to move away from litho work to focus purely on digital printing. Rapidity has around 2,500 existing customers in industry sectors ranging from leisure through to finance. It produces a wide range of general print such as brochures, leaflets and business cards - Manning says that annually the company prints in the region of 200,000 sets of business cards, with some of the work despatched globally. The firm employs around 60 staff across its two sites and turns over around £10m a year.
Why it was bought...
The company has enjoyed tremendous growth over the past few years and wanted to ease some of the pressure on its existing pair of HP Indigo 7900s by migrating this work to a larger, more productive machine.
How it has performed...
Manning says he has been “really happy” with the work the machine has produced since installation. He says it is easy to use and he’s been particularly impressed by its “consistency of output”. The addition of the HP Indigo 12000 has also enabled the company to branch out into new areas such as short run packaging.