Star product: Unibind UniFoil Printer

Pamela Mardle
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A bespoke 'plug-and-play' foiling machine that the manufacturer says is ideal for short-run copyshop applications

When was it launched and who is it aimed at?
Post-press equipment manufacturer Unibind launched the UniFoil Printer in November as an alternative to traditional foiling methods. The bespoke foiling ability of the machine positions it towards the copyshop market and firms offering personalisation services for theses, diaries and book covers.

Unibind group director Rob Pryer says that while the machine is not ideal for high-volume production, it is the perfect solution for businesses that produce anything between 25 and 50 pieces a day.

He adds: "For anyone who is running a walk-in personalisation copyshop or producing theses for students, this product can dramatically transform their business."

What does it do?
Pryer says that the UniFoil Printer effectively "tattoos" foil patterns onto a variety of substrates, including smooth and textured surfaces.

Unibind says the process works effectively with cloth, leather, acetate, velvet and linen. Currently, gold, silver, blue and red foils are available for use with the machine. The company is also testing different grades of foils with the UniFoil-Printer to widen the range of substrates it can print on.

Pryer claims that book foiling with the machine is much more cost-effective compared with traditional methods, cutting makeready times and eliminating the need for manufacturing dies.

One beta customer found that make-ready times fell from two hours, on a conventional foiler, to between 10 and 15 minutes with the UniFoil Printer, which is ready to print as soon as the design is loaded to the machine, Pryer claims.

How does it work?
The UniFoil Printer is a standalone desktop foiling unit that has a movable printhead to apply foil directly to a substrate without the need for dies. Users create the desired design with tailor-made "Microsoft Office-style" software created by Unibind, according to Pryer.

The image is then transferred to the UniFoil Printer by USB and translated to the substrate through the printhead.

What is its USP?
Previous digital foilers have used fixed printheads, meaning that operator must move the printed product to plot the design. The UniFoil Printer plots by itself, using a movable head, so customers can print onto a book’s front and back cover and spine in one print cycle.

How easy is it to use?
Pryer calls the UniFoil Printer a "plug-and- play" system, as operating involves simply importing a logo from a USB and pressing a button to print the design. He says new users would quickly get to grips with the UniFoil Printer and its software.

How fast is it?
The system prints at speeds up to 250mm a second, but Pryer points out that a design can be generated and applied to a printed product in just 10 minutes, much faster than conventional machines, he says, which require a die to be made as well as machine set-up.

Pryer says that the reduction of makeready times from around one hour for traditional methods to 10 minutes on the UniFoil Printer is what makes it such an economical piece of kit for bespoke and short-run copyshops.

What support is on offer?
Pryer says: "There is not a lot that can really go wrong with it."

But just in case, the UniFoil Printer software has remote diagnostics, so that users can submit their issues directly to the support team in Belgium. The system collates information on all the settings being used on the machine at the time of the fault, so that the service engineers can diagnose the problems and offer advice to correct issues via an Instant Messenger-style portal.

And if that doesn’t work, the UK team are on-hand to swap out faulty systems with ready stock at their Horsham, West Sussex base within 24 hours.

What is the sales target?
Despite only launching the machine  in November last year, Unibind is already awaiting a 10-strong batch of machines to fulfil orders taken in the run-up to Christmas, according to Pryer. He adds that the response from beta testers around the world has been extremely positive and that Unibind has appointments with a number of potential customers to discuss the new product in early 2013.

Pryer hopes to sell around two or three machines a month thereon, and expects that the sub-£10,000 price tag will encourage small businesses to make the investment. He adds that Unibind will offer the machine on lease terms or as an outright purchase.

At the time of going to press, Unibind UK was awaiting a shipment of machines from its Belgian partner so there are no customers as yet.



Print area 400x350mm
Up to 250mm/sec
Unibind UK 0845 226 0887

Foil Xpress

Impress Systems’ Foil Xpress can print on the cover, back, and spine of pre-made book covers as well as on the material used to fabricate book covers. Also, customers can print on the covers of finished books, such as diaries, calendars, greetings cards, advertising one-offs and novelty items. Customers can add the auto positioning option which enables automatic printing of areas up to 203x254mm at an additional cost of £1,050.

Print area 203x254mm
Resolution 300x600dpi
Up to 250mm/sec
Around £4,000
Impress Systems +49 6224 9021665



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