Derbyshire based event branding solutions company, Banner Box, identified the importance of investing in the latest technology years ago, and recently continued the trend when they took advantage of Mimaki's upgrade promotion featuring the newly launched baby-grand solvent printer - the JV33-260S.
Banner Box has been digitally printing banners, flags and outdoor branded products since 2001 when they invested in an early mild solvent printer from Granthams Graphic Technology. Their relationship with Granthams strengthened over the years, with further wide format printers replacing the originals, including their first venture into wider machines with a pair of Mimaki JV3-250SP printers, capable of outputting 2.5m wide (or deep) print onto outdoor banners.
The launch of the new baby grand Mimaki - the 2.6m wide JV33-260S - fitted in well with Banner Box's investment plans, and coupled to a recommendation from a new member of staff who'd worked with one of the regular sized JV33s at another company, the investment was a fairly easy one for General Manager, Charles Coldwell to sanction.
With a product portfolio that covers the complete gamut of outdoor branded products, and a full service model that allows them to print, manufacture and fit any product, anywhere in the UK, they benefit from economies of scale in offering competitive pricing to their customers. The keen pricing doesn't come at the cost of quality though as that is something the company sets out its stall by.
"We keep our customers through our commitment to quality," says Coldwell, "and that's reflected not only in the work that we produce, but the way we produce it." Favouring running the machines a touch below their maximum speed, he's confident that the improvement in print quality and colour density is worth it. Some of their blue chip clients have very exacting standards for display graphics work, and jobs such as the 2m x 600mm side stands that they're often called on to produce (in 700 unit runs, no less) for a major German car brand's national dealer network, test Banner Box's resolve and capacity to the limit.
Nonetheless, it's very unusual these days for the company to need to sub contract work out and a lot of this is down to the increase in speed that they've seen from the new Mimaki. Not only is it capable of running faster than any other machine in their substantial suite of print hardware, but features such as the UISS big ink system mean running fast and overnight is now fully feasible as well.
"The UISS is a fantastic development," Coldwell says, "and it has added another dimension to our ability to turn work around faster."
The JV33-260S mirrors Mimaki's other production solvent printers with the inclusion of their Uninterrupted Ink Supply System technology where multiple cartridges of each colour are loaded and the printer switches seamlessly between them as they are consumed, without the need to pause printing.
Banner Box appreciates the excellent keying of Mimaki's SS21 full solvent ink to the Dicksons banner material as well. Horror stories of output from other machines running lower keying inks causing their sewing staff to be covered in rubbed off ink are now a thing of the past as the Mimaki's print stays glued to the PVC during makeup and welding.
The skill sets within Banner Box means they're not just involved in the printing side - their 'full service' model covers every element of banner and flag making from the design, through print, sewing and finishing, to the groundwork that is required for flag pole installations - even the erection of gazebos and marquees. Their vast premises on the outskirts of Staveley afford them the space to house their suite of around 10 wide format printers, plus the extra areas required for fabricating the printed output. It's a long way from the tiny high street shop that the then tarpaulin manufacturers started out in, in 1991.
Working with Granthams since their first investment in 2001, Coldwell places importance on the quality of support and technical know-how they get from the team at the authorised Mimaki reseller.
"Whilst the JV33-260 is the easiest grand format printer I've ever used, we do very much value the input that Granthams have in getting the best out of the machine - and they're quick to provide help whenever they're called upon."
Now able to take on more work from companies unable to offer the same complete service, it's the aforementioned commitment to quality and innovation that's seen Banner Box grow to such a standing in the market. When top west end hotels come knocking and you find your company in great demand from the big blue chip brands for repeat business, you know you're doing something right, and Coldwell is happy to confirm that investing in the appropriate technology plays a part in that.
"The colour matching from Mimaki's RasterLink Pro RIP software has had a big impact on the quality of our output - and perhaps most importantly, the ease with which we achieve it. Where previously we would have to change a lot of colours in clients' artwork to colours we knew we could match, we're able to take practically anything in now and be very confident of the quality that we'll get at the other end."
This claim goes beyond the marketing departments of the big brands though - one regular client is a local school, whose banners are often designed by the pupils themselves. A colourful kaleidoscope of solid colour blocks, random vignettes and photos, these proved a real challenge to output prior to the investment of the JV33-260. Now though, with the printer's new Mimaki RIP package, Coldwell has complete confidence in what his team will print, and even finds himself caught out by the speed that it takes.
"I've got much more time now," he says. "We're often still surprised at the rate we get through work from start to finish - but that's no bad thing!"
The speed of the new workflow wasn't the only thing to startle the team at Banner Box;
"I noticed that our production department was ordering more media than normal and at first I thought something wasn't quite right," jokes Coldwell. "But when we sat down and did the sums; it's printing so much faster, and outputting so much more material, it's no wonder we're in that position!"
This volume of work is a satisfying vindication for a company that's riding out the recession with the introduction of pioneering products, without cutting corners. Remembering the importance of their commitment to quality, Coldwell concludes; "The print off the JV33 is the best I've seen." Praise indeed from a company that's printed an incredible volume of stunning work over the years, for some very exacting clients.
More information on Banner Box's vast range of products can be found on their website at www.bannerbox.co.uk and for information on the complete range of Mimaki printer and cutter hardware, their authorised reseller; Grantham's can be reached via their comprehensive website at www.granthams.co.uk. Mimaki's exclusive UK & Ireland distributor is Hybrid Services Ltd and their website, detailing Mimaki's full product and software line-up is www.hybridservices.co.uk.