Me & my: Roland DG LEC-540

Tim Sheahan
Friday, July 15, 2011

The ability to produce colour-accurate packaging mock-ups and proofs is essential for this business - and Roland has delivered.

Beams International is a young company, as far as many UK print businesses go. Established in 1997, the Gillingham, Kent-based packaging firm specialises in the design and manufacture of gift packs and packaging of promotional items in the food and drink industry.

Offering a complete service, the business both designs and produces branded and bespoke items for the retail market in the UK as well as for overseas clients.

Last year, however, the company recognised that it was unable to offer a truly comprehensive proofing service. Beams couldn’t output aqueous-based inks onto materials that were frequently used in a final production run and so it sought the assistance of Roland DG.

Following a dialogue with Roland DG partner Revolution, the 27-staff firm decided its needs would be best served by a Roland DG VersaUV LEC-540 UV-curable printer, or the LEC-540 for short.

"From the moment that we ordered the new printer, we had a demand for its capabilities and since its installation and commissioning we have been able to produce prototype packaging that is as good as the real thing," says Matthew Russell, commercial director at Beams International.

"Our customers have been able to understand in an instant what our proposition is and what the finished packaging will eventually look like," he adds.

According to Jan Edgecombe, managing director at Revolution, Beams International briefed the supplier on providing a dedicated proofing solution that could produce accurate mock-ups and prototypes for "the quality end" of the bespoke food and drink markets.

"The existing aqueous-based system was restrictive because it couldn’t be used for proofing onto the final material and, with an increase in demand for specialist finishes, both highly opaque white and a versatile clear varnish also bring added value," adds Edgecombe.

However, the Roland LEC-540 was not the only option for Beams. The company analysed a range of machines from several manufacturers. "Various machines were looked at, mainly the HP and Epson brands," says Andy Cooper, designer at Beams International.

According to Cooper, it was the need to stay ahead of the competition in a "tough market" and the added opportunity to seal a UK first with the Roland model, that proved a tipping point.

The key benefit of the machine is that it can provide a true simulation of packaging products for Beams’ diverse client base.


Perfect packs

Cooper says that due to the special finishes incorporated into the company’s packaging prototypes, the press had to be a combination system that would not only print, crease and cut, but was also able to provide accurate proofs on a variety of different materials.

"The ability to produce accurate mock-ups that incorporate matched colour and accurate folding was a must," he says.

The Roland fit the bill. It can print up to a resolution of 1,440dpi directly on to a wide range of substrates such as metallic and synthetic papers, PE and PET films, BOPP, card stocks and plastic boards, polycarbonates and other rigid materials.

The machine is designed to integrate with a colour-managed workflow that, according to Roland, helps achieve accurate results on difficult and unusual substrates, such as suede or leather.

The machine’s use of UV-curable flexible inks allows Beams’ jobs to be cut, creased and folded without any chipping or flaking, with a tough and durable finish on all surfaces. According to Cooper, another key reason for opting for the LEC-540 was its ability to print onto a range of substrates as well as the machine’s spot UV and embossing functionality.

These factors have complemented the machine’s standard feature set, which Cooper feels have benefited the company in terms of output and quality. "We run our work through EFI Colorproof RIP software, which prints with a stochastic screening and produces superb results even at a standard resolution of 720x1,080," he says.

Beams’ Roland DG investment has now been firmly bedded-in following its installation in November 2010. While the installation was successful, the machine ended up proving to be bigger than the company anticipated.

"The problem being that we were the first company in Europe to purchase the LEC-540 so the installation was quite intricate," says Cooper. This proved the case when the firm needed to hire a crane to lift the printer into the first floor of the company’s Rainham facility.

Despite this, Beams has nothing but praise for the reliability and service since the installation. "It’s Japanese technology, need I say more? Apparently these machines are hand-built by one person from start to finish. The standard of finish is second to none. There were teething issues with the bespoke ventilation system and just generally getting to grips with such a large piece of equipment. However, you can’t compare it with your normal inkjet printer," says Cooper.


Speedy service

Regarding service, Cooper describes the experience as "superb" with issues dealt with within a day or two maximum. He points out that certain machine parts need to come direct from Japan, which can occasionally add time to the replacement process. "But we are always updated regularly with the progress and they have a great support team down in Clevedon," he adds.

And while the investment has undoubtedly been good for Beams, it has also been good for Roland too. "This installation of the first LEC-540 at Beams International is a clear indication of how print businesses who need consistent and accurate proofing onto all materials can benefit from Roland technology," confirms Steve Chappell, business manager for packaging and proofing at Roland DG. "Not only is the LEC-540 a low-cost versatile integrated print-and-cut option for this type of production, it is also chemistry-free and can be used in a normal office or studio environment."




Resolution: 1,440dpi

Substrates: Metallic and synthetic papers, PE and PET films, BOPP, card stocks and plastic boards, polycarbonates and other rigid materials

Width: 1,370mm

Price: £45,999

Contact: Roland DG, 0845 230 9060,


Company profile


Founded in 1997, Beams International produces branded and bespoke gift products for a range of brands such as Diageo. The Kent-based packaging business opted for the Roland machine to enable it to produce colour proofs and high-quality display work for a range of retail clients. The LEC-540 printer and cutter model, supplied by Revolution, offers a width of 1,370mm and the ability to print using white ink as well as a clear varnish. Beams International is producing jobs on a combination system of the LEC-540 that allows the Gillingham company to print, cut and crease as well as producing a range of special finishes on packaging prototypes.

Why I bought it...

Beams needed a proofing machine that could deliver high-quality print on a variety of different substrates.

How it has performed...

According to Matthew Russell, commercial director at Beams International, from the moment had ordered the new printer it had a demand for its "unique capabilities" and since its installation and commissioning it has been able to produce prototype packaging that is "as good as the real thing".


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