Me & my: MGI Meteor DP8700 XL
Monday, January 27, 2014
Going against the grain and defining yourself by your difference to everyone else isn’t always a great idea. Just look at John McCririck. But sometimes it really does pay to be just a little bit different.
This can certainly be the case in the world of business, and specifically print. Here print buyers often get so overwhelmed by identikit quotes and carbon-copy sales spiels, that a company sending McCririck to lead a pitch – overgrown sideburns, garish jewellery, chauvinistic bluster and all – would probably have the edge just by being memorable.
Daring to be different has always been the Langham Press way. The Cambridge-based company was established by 15 staff from the collapsed Bluepoint in July 2012. The team decided that the demise of their former employer offered an opportunity. “There only being a few other printers here, we thought there was an opening in the market for another one. We just felt it was a tragedy to let so many customers down,” reports managing director David Arnold, formally Bluepoint’s production director. “We started from scratch, buying all our equipment using finance from banks,” he adds.
The new company was of course wary of risking a similar fate to Bluepoint. So ensuring the company had enough of a USP to have the upper hand in price negotiations was paramount. Which is why, following the purchase of a five-colour-plus-
coater Komori when the company was established, the Langham team decided to depart from the norm when making their first digital investment in October 2012.
“We looked at Ricoh, Canon and Xerox machines and they’re very good, but once you’re in that market, it’s pretty cut-throat because you can’t do anything different with it,” says Arnold. “It’s like litho – you’ll just be constantly competing with other printers who have got an SRA3 digital machine.”
So the company instead opted for an MGI Meteor DP8700 XL, with its flexible 1,020mm print length. This enables the company to produce landscape-format brochures for Langham’s estate agent clients, and long display sheets.
“We can do a full six-page A4 brochure, whether that’s portrait or landscape. It can go up to an eight-page A4,” reports Arnold. “We’ve got a lot of estate agency work as a result because they want something different, and a landscape brochure offers that.”
Arnold explains that without an MGI machine the only way to produce such brochures is with a litho press, which doesn’t suit the fast-moving property market.
“It’s important we can offer that format as a short run because of the length of time a property’s on the market,” says Arnold. “We do runs on average of 25-30 – that seems to be a popular one; because estate agents don’t want the volume sticking round, especially of course when the house has been sold.”
Being able to digitally produce a sheet size that’s longer than most other printers can handle, means another strong source of work for Langham is trade jobs.
“We do a lot of trade work for large-format companies; they do all the exhibition and display stuff and then we can print on our press just a long sheet with a long image on it, maybe a panoramic view,” says Arnold. “They could do that on a B1 press, but if they only want 100 copies, it would be really expensive.”
The DP8700 XL – which sits in Langham’s office area, away from dust and temperature fluctuations – is highly versatile in other ways too. Langham Press can also offer customers a wider range of materials than many other digital printers, reports Arnold, enabling plastic card and display work.
“MGI can supply you with an oven which bakes two sheets together. You can laminate them, you can insert a magnet or a chip, and then there’s another machine that punches the cards out,” says Arnold of how the cards are produced.
Though Langham doesn’t have such a finishing add-on, it does print the cards and then send them out to another company for finishing. Arnold adds: “Because it can print on plastics, we also do a lot of clear PVC work. That’s ‘sold’ flashes where you print a flash of colour across one corner of a shop window for estate agents’ properties.”
He adds: “And another thing it’s really good for is stationery that has to go through a further print process; if you print stationery on some laser devices, the toner can come off, whereas with the MGI, the toner is slightly different, I think it’s finer. It doesn’t react when it goes through another device.”
On the quality of all the applications the MGI can run, Arnold adds: “The results are fantastic, it’s very colour consistent.”
Another key reason for going for the MGI was the fact it operates on a non-click pricing model. “When you sign the deal MGI gives you a figure they think it will cost you on any job which is about 2p for one side of A4. We’re probably operating at about half that,” reports Arnold.
And the reliability of the machine has impressed too, particularly compared to other machines Arnold’s worked with in the past. “We’d all worked with digital technology before and we’d all had some sort of experience with it, mostly bad,” he says. “It was just continuous breakdowns; an engineer basically camped in the car park. But the MGI has been untouchable, it’s been absolutely brilliant.”
He adds: “It was installed at the end of October 2012 and we had our first call-out in February for a breakdown. I think we’ve probably called them out five or six times in the year. Some of the stuff we could have fixed but MGI has the attitude of ‘try and fix it but if it doesn’t work we’ll certainly send somebody out’.”
“It’s a Konica print engine and whatever MGI do to it seems to make it really reliable. The guy from Konica came to look at it and he said it was a black art – nobody knows what MGI do to it that makes it work so well.”
Wear and tear
Problems encountered have all been normal wear and tear issues. “It was a drive belt or various cogs that the guys could probably have replaced, but once they’d watched the mechanic they felt more confident doing it themselves,” says Arnold. “Then it’s the fuser and drums that need changing – digital machines have a little read-out that says when components are considered to be used up. Then it’s up to you if you feel you need to change them. We tend to keep spares in anyway.”
Arnold was very impressed with the three days’ training the team received at MGI’s Hemel Hempstead facility, and how helpful the manufacturer has been since: “When the engineers come out, they’ll actually show us how to change components,” he says.
The DP8700 XL has been instrumental, then, to Langham’s success so far. “It’s brought in a lot of new customers, around 70 or 80. That makes up about 30% of the business and is a growing area. We’ve gone from £0 to £150,000 after the first year.”
Unsurprisingly, Langham has plans to expand its digital kit line-up soon. But Arnold hopes other digital print companies don’t also start expanding their line-ups. “In total I think there’s probably not more than about 20 of these MGI machines in the country, and some of those are just used for printing credit cards on, some are just for photobooks,” he says.
“So the longer other people hold off, the better for us.”
Max speed 4,260 A4 mono pages per hour; 2,280 A3 colour pages per hour
Max print area 321x1,011mm
Stock weight range 70-350 gsm
Plastic thicknesses 4-16mil
Max envelope thickness 16mil
Trays Three with 550 sheet capacity each
Duplex Auto duplex up to 260gsm
Contact MGI Technology 01442 446446 www.mgitechnology.co.uk
Langham Press was formed in July 2012 when Bluepoint Cambridge went into administration and a group of 15 of its workers decided there was still enough work in the Cambridge area for another printer to operate. “There only being a few other printers here, we thought there was an opening in the market for another one. We just felt it was a tragedy to let so many customers down,” says managing director David Arnold. 18 months later and the company has added new customers too, closing year one with a turnover of just
Why it was bought...
Establishing the company with a five-colour-plus-coater Komori, Langham made its first foray into digital in October 2012 with an MGI DP8700 XL. The team opted for this primarily because of its non-click charge price model, but also because its 1,020mm repeat length would allow them to offer something different and so give them the edge over SRA3 competitors.
How it has performed...
Arnold has been thoroughly impressed with the MGI. Having worked with various bits of temperamental digital kit in the past, he was amazed it took until February after the install before an engineer had to be called out, and that this was for a minor incident. “The reasons we went for the machine are actually working for us,” reports Arnold.