Me & my: Scodix Ultra 101
Thursday, July 23, 2020
At the beginning of this year Precision Printing installed the UK’s first Scodix Ultra 101 digital enhancement inkjet at its Dagenham site, replacing the older of its two existing Scodix S75 models. Its on-demand gloss and foil effects are being offered with Precision’s well-established fast-turnround online print services.
Precision Printing has made frequent appearances in the pages of Printweek over the past couple of decades, often to do with its embrace of online ordering and its pioneering efforts to establish the automated workflows and administration needed to handle tens of thousands of separate print jobs per day.
The company was founded in 1966 to provide general commercial print services to the City of London with an original focus on stationery and forms. Until recently it was primarily a commercial printer, selling directly to customers, but in 2014 it invested in a trade operation, WhereTheTradeBuys. Current turnover is £25m and it employs 180 people in three sites, Dagenham being the largest.
Gary Peeling has been CEO since 1997, having first joined the company in 1986. His stepfather Clive Cooper had been a partner in the company since 1979. Peeling has guided the transformation of the company into its current emphasis on digital and online services.
Precision is a big user of HP Indigo digital presses and Peeling has been a leading light in the Dscoop Indigo user group. He’s also made regular appearances in Printweek’s annual Power 100 list of the most influential people in UK print.
Last year Precision acquired a second Scodix, an S75, which had formerly been operated by CMYKhub, the Australian trade services company that decided to cease UK operations. Precision reached an agreement to support CMYKhub customers, and took on some of its staff as well as the Scodix machine. However this was older than Precision’s other S75 and has been sold to make way for the Ultra 101.
During the current Covid-19, crisis Precision Printing was featured on Printweek’s news pages for its collaboration with Prime Group to help manufacture the latter’s PPE visor design at the Precision Printing North site in Sunderland. By mid-June some 5 million units had been delivered.
Peeling says. “The last period has been extremely challenging with significant impact on B2B volumes initially. We benefited somewhat from our diverse business model and enjoyed unexpected growth for personalised products from our photo and social stationery clients as a result of the e-commerce boom. The recovery in the B2B business has largely been based on agility and product development, ensuring we had products and marketing that were relevant to current requirement with obvious demands for social distancing products being one example.
“WhereTheTradeBuys is also proving useful for printers that can outsource to satisfy customers with non-core products, or fulfil a requirement while their own production capabilities are reduced by furlough.”
What’s a Scodix Ultra 101?
It’s been 10 years since Scodix appeared as an unknown start-up at Ipex 2010, showing off the then new idea of raised ‘high build’ and textured UV-cured clear polymer applied by inkjet, as embellishment over print. As the machines cost as much as a decent digital colour press, initial sales were slow. However as digital print became ever more commoditised, the market has started to catch up with Scodix’s vision of effects adding sales value.
The B2-plus Ultra range was first announced in 2013, but in February 2019 the range was split into two. The Ultra 101 is the entry-level model, aimed primarily at litho and HP Indigo digital press users. The more expensive Ultra 202 is intended for a wider range of print processes and substrates and offers higher build and more effects. Both still run at 1,250sph.
Designed for lower costs, the Ultra 101’s maximum polymer build height is reduced to 90 microns (with a minimum of 20 microns), compared with a range of 5 to 250 microns for the Ultra 202 and the very fast (4,000 sph) but much more expensive B1 carton flagship, the E106. The Ultra 101 offers six of the stable of Scodix effects: Sense (raised and textured finish), Foil, Metallic, VDE (variable data enhancement), Glitter, and Cast & Cure (a diffraction effect popular on high-end packaging), plus combinations of all these.
The foil effect applies standard hot or cold foil over the polymer while it’s sticky, so it looks like embossing. Up to four different foil rolls can be fed side by side. Glitter applies glitter pieces into the polymer itself, while Metallic prints over a matt metallic laminate which turns reflective under the polymer.
Higher-build Scodix models can also handle Braille, a faceted gemstone effect called Crystal and the low-build 5 micron Spot varnish.
The Scodix RSP (Rotate/Scale/Position) registration technology uses four CCD cameras to detect the printed image and adjust the polymer image to fit precisely from sheet to sheet.
Friedheim has been UK distributor for the Scodix range since the beginning of 2019 and supplied the Ultra 101 to Precision Printing.
How is Scodix enhancement used?
“Scodix enhancement celebrates the physicality of printing by the additional gloss and texture,” Peeling says. “It has proven very popular with customers seeking to elevate their projects. Excited customers who are less focused on price, leads to higher budgets and improved margins, with everyone happy as something special has been delivered. It is particularly popular on business cards, brochure and book covers, and invites and flyers.”
The original S75s at Precision had proved their worth for value-added work, says Peeling. “By far the most popular effect is the standard high-build, but it’s the additional of bespoke texture which often delivers the most outstanding results. The new Ultra 101 is also equipped with foil and we now offer this short-run service across all products.”
As the Scodix effects may be new to many print buyers, Peeling says that educating customers in their possibilities and artwork preparation is important. “Sample packs are key, which we make widely available. Also there are how-to guides and videos to help support file preparation. Finally there is customer support. It’s simple to prepare the files and we have successfully supported thousands of customers through the process.”
Why buy the Scodix 101?
It’s a much faster machine than the S75s and unlike them has a foiling module, Peeling says. “The Ultra 101 is three to four times faster than the S75 and cheaper to operate, reducing project costs and making longer-run projects viable. The 101 has a greater range of build depths from 20 microns upwards, it handles enhancements on both sides more successfully than the previous generation and also is able to foil block. The 101 brings a robustness to the enhancement process that allows you to offer the service at scale.”
He sees it as being particularly relevant to Precision’s trade services. “The capital cost of the equipment with foil capability is significant, while the service being very desirable making it a perfect service to be made available on WhereTheTradeBuys. It may be that some customers only buy Scodix foil projects occasionally and print everything else themselves –that’s fine, we are happy to help.”
How did the adoption go?
“Installation and training was straightforward,” Peeling says. “Scodix is now supported in the UK by Friedheim and the service support has been excellent.”
“The new 101 benefits from an improved RIP that can handle automated workflow for personalised and projects and micro runs, this is integrated into our workflow to allow enhancement files to called up on the run.”
What’s his message to anyone considering digital embellishment? “Scodix created this market and continue to innovate and drive it, it’s not the cheapest option from a capital perspective but it is the best.”
Process Sheetfed inkjet printing UV-cured high-build clear polymer
Max speed 1,250sph
Max sheet size 545x788mm
Max image size 504x748mm
Media thickness range 135-675gsm
Media types Litho, HP Indigo ElectroInk, plastics, laminated and coated/uncoated paper
Max build height 90 microns
Scodix effects Sense, Foil, Metallic, VDE, Glitter, Cast & Cure
Foil roll width 50-500mm
Price The Scodix Ultra 101 equipped with spot UV and digital foil unit is available for around £450,000
Contact Friedheim 01442 206100 www.friedheim.co.uk
Precision Printing is a large commercial and trade printing company with a turnover of £25m and staff of about 180. It was founded in 1966 to serve the City of London but has expanded into a wide range of commercial work with emphasis on online sales and fast turnround. As it can handle tens of thousands of small jobs per day, it’s worked hard to develop automated workflows and administration systems to cope with these. Precision is a big user of digital presses, with four HP Indigos plus four Ricoh C9200 models, as well as a pair of Ryobi SRA1 litho presses with LED-UV curing. It has a very wide range of finishing kit to cope with almost anything. It installed its first Scodix device in 2014 and this year added the UK’s first Ultra 101.
Why it was bought...
Precision wanted to improve and speed up its digital enhancements service to bolster its fast-turnaround, on-demand processes
How it has performed...
CEO Gary Peeling says “The foil enhancement has proven immediately popular with our WhereTheTradeBuys customers looking to deliver something a little different and it has certainly improved the breadth and depth of the enhancement services.”