by Olivia Cahoon
Manufacturers from a range of industries invest in digital printing technology. This includes increasing demands for consistent results, improved quality, shorter runs, or a more diverse selection of substrates.
As digital printing technology advances, those who invested in the early iterations of digital devices often look to upgrade current presses to maintain efficiency. Here, we learn about a U.K.-based manufacturer that enhanced its printing process with a newer model of its swissQprint flatbed UV printer.
Established in 1982, Fine Cut Group Ltd., is a multi-service manufacturing company based in Lancing, West Sussex, U.K. With 40 employees, the company is split into specialist divisions of advanced industrial print, labeling and marking, engraving, and bookbinding.
The manufacturer started with four employees specializing in hot foil printing and engraving from a small workshop in Southwick, West Sussex, U.K. In 1985, it moved to a larger location in Lancing to meet increasing demands and to enable further expansion into general engraving, bookbinding tools, and foil printing.
After over 30 years of successful trading in the manufacturing industry, Fine Cut is now a group of globally acclaimed graphic brands that blend traditional craftsmanship skills with cutting-edge technology to serve clients from a range of industries.
Fine Cut manufactures high-quality, state-of-the-art labels and nameplates and provides a complete range of precision laser cutting and marking services to complement its CNC and manual engraving. The manufacturer is also a supplier of high-quality, durable graphic overlays and membrane keys for all applications and environments.
The company originally used screenprinting technology. This changed in 2012 with the addition of its first digital printing press—the swissQprint Impala UV printer. With this investment, Fine Cut surpassed the quality achieved with traditional screenprinting.
When the opportunity to transition to LED curing technology became available with the Impala LED, the company recognized another way to further develop its business. This was the most influential driver for Fine Cut’s decision to add the next generation printer.
In doing so, Fine Cut became the first company to invest in a newer swissQprint Impala LED printer in the U.K. The 2.5×2-meter large format printer is configured for six colors—CMYK, light cyan, and light magenta as well as white, primer, and varnish. The press is designed for a range of precision industrial applications for clients in the signage and graphics, medical, automotive, marine, and agricultural sectors.
“While the original Impala exceeded all expectations of digital output quality, UV curing with mercury vapor lamps still presented limitations for high precision work on more challenging substrates, due to the media distortion caused by the high temperature process,” explains Simon Tourle, digital print manager, Fine Cut.
The manufacturer obtained its Impala LED from sign and graphics supplier Spandex UK Ltd. The two companies have worked together since 2011. Fine Cut values Spandex’s technical and application expertise in printer and ink service and support. “The Spandex team is extremely responsive to our needs, showing great interest in how we work with the Impala and helping us to get the best from the technology,” shares Tourle.
Fine Cut experienced immediate benefits after investing in the Impala LED in October 2017. “The new Impala LED has delivered a noticeable step up in speed,” says Tourle. For example, the printing process is accelerated due to productive printheads.
Tourle also points to LED curing, which removes the need for warm up and cool down cycles between jobs “In practice, jobs that took an hour to print on the first generation Impala are now taken care of in 20 to 30 minutes,” he explains. “As a matter of fact, our flatbed productivity has more than doubled.”
Reducing the environmental impact at every opportunity is an integral part of Fine Cut’s ongoing business strategy. The manufacturer’s duty and care towards the natural environment led it to undergo testing for the Supply Chains for the 21st Century (SC21) certification. SC21 is a U.K. improvement program designed to accelerate the competitiveness of the aerospace and defense industry by raising the performance of its supply chain.
The certification defines agreed criteria in terms of delivery, quality, sustainable improvement, and the associated improvement frameworks for this industry. Obtaining the SC21 certification attests to Fine Cut’s consistently high standards of working practices and product quality, which includes stringent environmental clauses.
The addition of the swissQprint Impala in 2012 also helped the manufacturer in its environmental goals. With the Impala, Fine Cut produces traditional screenprinted overlays on a digital platform—improving quality while reducing the waste associated with screenprinting. With its latest purchase of the Impala LED, the manufacturer now produces over 60 percent of its work through digital means at almost half the energy—significantly reducing costs and energy usage.
Digital technology not only gives Fine Cut additional funds but it also allows the manufacturer to maintain its ongoing environmental strategy.
Shifting From Screen Printing
One of the largest deciding factors in Fine Cut’s transition from screenprinting to digital technology was the premium output quality in the swissQprint Impala.
The manufacturer’s team kept an eye on developments during the early days of digital wide format. According to Tourle, it wasn’t until the launch of the first generation Impala in 2010 that the company found a digital flatbed solution that met its exact standards for color accuracy and consistency.
In fact, Tourle says the team was impressed by the quality of the Impala’s printed samples. After viewing the samples, the shop visited swissQprint’s manufacturing plant in Switzerland where the team was shown the range of print possibilities utilizing the large format printer.
By using the device, Fine Cut discovered the Impala surpassed the quality achievable with the screenprinting process—allowing it to produce photographic-quality prints on any substrate including many of which are screenprinted. “Our clients appreciate the exceptional quality we can deliver with this digital printer,” offers Tourle.
Alongside its digital production solutions, Fine Cut continues to maintain a screenprinting process for printing true metallic and conductive inks. Due to its diverse customer base, the shop values the ability to print on a variety of materials while also handling a range of bespoke requirements.
Fine Cut’s original swissQprint Impala printer allowed for new, custom applications that were uneconomical or impossible with analog technology. For example, the manufacturer now offers specialized labels and graphics. With its new Impala featuring LED curing, the shop has even more potential avenues to explore.
“As a business, we always invest to stay at the forefront of the industrial print sector with a clear focus on high-quality results realized by our technology choice,” adds Tourle. Fine Cut’s goals are to handle any customer request, no matter how challenging. “We like to say that we can print anything on anything and with the Impala, we certainly can.”
Digital Breeds Success
Fine Cut excels in its work within the medical, automotive, marine, and agricultural sectors as well as the more conventional signage and graphics industry. With two swissQprint UV flatbed printers and a state-of-the-art facility, the manufacturer continues its commitment to eco-friendly printing and keeps a variety of brands satisfied. IPM
Jul2020, Industrial Print Magazine