Imagedata Group has invested circa-£500,000 in new kit to boost its large-format graphics operation at its Howden site in Yorkshire.
The Willerby, Yorkshire-headquartered outfit brought in a 5m-wide Durst Rho 512R plus a Matic Cronos Ultimate stitching line at the end of last month, with the majority of the spend going on the Durst. It underwent extensive testing before being fully commissioned a couple of weeks ago.
The new Durst joins Imagedata’s three pre-existing Durst machines, a Rho 1012, a Rho P10 250 and a Rho 500R.
Imagedata’s retail sector managing director Paul Price, who heads up operations at Howden, said he evaluated the market for 18 months before making the purchasing decision, starting when he attended the Fespa Fabric Printing Now conference in Huddersfield in October 2015.
Price said: “One of the main factors behind it was that having evaluated the market for large-format graphics I noticed high-street retailers were changing the way they were producing graphics; everyone was going for large-format lightboxes or stretch frames. You could produce them using conventional UV but if you fold the fabrics it can bruise the material. So it left us two options, dye-sublimation or Durst offering flexible ink.
“We were led by market forces. I could have bought dye-sublimation and if I had gone down that route it can only do fabric. It’s a two-stage process so it’s quite slow and inks are expensive, and unless I was doing fabric graphics that machine would just stand there.”
The Rho 512R UV inkjet uses Durst’s Quadro Array 12M printhead and Variodrop technology. It prints at a maximum speed of 350sqm/hr at maximum 800dpi resolution and can handle three 1.6m rolls simultaneously. An upgraded version, the Rho 512R Plus, was launched at Fespa earlier this month.
Price added: “The beauty of the 512 is the flexible ink that allows us to produce large-format stretch graphics and backlit lightboxes. The ink process that has been put behind it and the variable droplet size that it offers means you can print from 13 picolitres to 30 picolitres, you vary the quality that you want.”
He also said further investment at the 100-staff site was being considered and that “certainly” next year there would be more. It spent around £1.5m on kit last year, upgrading its Howden andBrighton facilities.
Along with the Dursts at the Howden site, it also runs three Inca machines, the X3, R40i and S70, and two HP Indigos, a 7000 and 7600.