We sat down with Richard McCombe, Managing Director of Matic Media to find out how latex ink technology has turned the fortunes of the company around.
Environmental consciousness is a widespread expression nowadays and certainly an important term within the printing industry. All around the globe, awareness of a greener planet and sustainable products is rising, and everyone
wants to be part of the 'green-boom'. One print company that is committed to environmental awareness is Matic Media Services Ltd, of Coatbridge, near Glasgow, Scotland.
This year has seen Matic Media committed to following a policy with the environment in mind and operate a 100 per cent solvent-ink free printing facility, in which it serves a broad range of applications, such as POS/POP displays, exhibition stands, vehicle wraps and posters.
The latest additions to Matic Media's product portfolio include indoor signage, wallpaper and textiles printed with Latex Ink using the HP Designjet L28500 printer.
"We were looking for good alternatives to solvent printers to further enhance our environmental policy, and we made the decision to install HP Latex Technology. The HP Designjet L28500 printer, which has environmental certifications and awards, fits perfectly within our existing range of 'environmentally-friendly' technology," says McCombe.
Matic Media, which employs 20 people, made some significant investments to become a 100 per cent solvent-ink free Print Service Provider (PSP), but as McCombe stated, the investment was worthwhile. Having had numerous water-based ink printers before, its latest purchase of a HP Designjet L28500 printer was the company's first printer with HP Latex Technology. This was purchased through HP dealer CWE Solutions, an HP Gold Preferred Partner and a UK reseller for HP Designjet Latex printers.
100 per cent solvent-ink free
"Based on professional advice from CWE Solutions and the live demonstration they gave us at their Sheffield office, we chose HP Latex Ink Technology because we were sure that our business would benefit from it in many ways, not only from an environmental perspective."
"The printer provides us with high-quality and versatile products. In addition, as CWE Solutions explained, the print width (263 cm) enables us to add a range of different indoor and outdoor applications to our offering, such as banners, posters and large-format graphics."
The 2.64m (104in) wide HP Designjet L28500 printer is ideal for soft-signage, pop-up displays, wallpaper and textile printing. A key benefit of the water-based HP Latex Ink is the ability to produce odourless prints (some substrates may have inherent odour) that can extend PSPs' applications while enabling them to meet the changing environmental needs of customers.
Small prints with huge effects
"With our new HP Latex Technology, we can now also further develop our two subsidiary companies," said McCombe.
One company, NailART Warehouse, is an online 'Design Your Own' nail wrap business. It offers a variety of instant manicure and pedicure designs, printed on a silicone release liner vinyl. As the HP Latex Ink is completely dry as soon as it comes out of the printer, the stickers are immediately ready for finishing and dispatch.
Customers can choose from predefined templates, such as coloured stripes, zebra print, national flags or even create their own unique nail designs.
"There are no limits to inventiveness - whether it is a photograph of your loved one or your favourite singer, a famous piece of artwork or a unique pattern that matches a particular dress," McCombe adds.
"The print quality of the HP Designjet L28500 printer is superb. It is producing sharply defined lines and vivid colours, even though the nail stickers have a very limited print size. No job is too small for Matic Media."
To get the business started, McCombe had the idea to launch the company's own software, which is used for designing the wrap sticker. It is based on a concept for home furnishings but has been created to allow users to select from various templates, choose the colour and customise their own pattern.
"To make sure we keep this uniqueness of our business, we would like to reinforce that we are using Latex Ink to print the stickers. The feedback we get is amazing, and in 2011, we sold more than 20,000 stickers."
The new printer also supports the second subsidiary, Photo Art Warehouse, which produces personalised canvas prints, posters, wallpapers and fridge magnets.
"Customers simply upload their images to our website, choose a preferred design and size, and within a few working days the final product is delivered," explained McCombe. "We produced more than 25,000 photo canvases in the last nine months, and the numbers show that customers as well as end consumers trust our high-quality products.
"The latex printer takes over all manufacturing jobs on canvas, assuring a good workflow, even when left unattended at night and at weekends. Another plus is the integrated automated notification by SMS or email in case of an unexpected problem," he adds.
Better working conditions and increased productivity
With the HP Designjet L28500 Printer even short-run printing jobs can be cost-effective and economical, and Matic Media's productivity can be increased by the printing speed up to 70m2 per hour.
"The printer took over all our banner, vinyl and textile production fulfilment the day it was installed, enabling us to produce an extended range of short-run, high-quality indoor and outdoor graphics with a very fast changeover between jobs."
"Other positive effects can be seen during the everyday work of our operators," mentioned McCombe. "Now there is no more need for our operators to stand next to the press, watch the job and intervene if necessary. The printer runs on its own, enabling a continuous workflow. This saves us a lot of time which we can invest in the preparation of our next printing job."
In addition, when working with HP Latex Inks, operators do not need to wear gloves or eye-protection, and special ventilation is not necessary.
"With the media versatility of the HP printer, we can now offer our customers a number of environmentally-conscious alternatives to traditional PVC signage applications, and we've also successfully expanded our product offering to include fabric and textile printing."
Richard McCombe is confident that the press will help to grow the business in other ways too:
"As a wide format print services provider, we experience a lot of competition, and speaking to CWE Solutions helped us to better understand the possibilities of the HP Latex Technology. Utilising the right hardware is the key to a successful business and satisfied customers. Installing the HP Latex printer will support us in many ways, as the printer is very reliable and comes with some amazing features.
"Another advantage is the Latex Ink, which is instantly dry as soon as it comes off the printer. Hence, off-gassing time is not necessary. I am positive that our business profits from all these improvements and that we are well positioned to maintain our position as a solvent-ink free business," concludes McCombe.
For more information on Matic Media, please visit www.maticmedia.co.uk or call 0844 209 2274.