VGMS invests in a Mimaki UJV55-320 UV LED printer, Kongsberg X24 EDGE and Graphtec FC9000-160 cutting plotter from CMYUK

Mark McInyre and Ken Mardon from VMGS with a Mimaki UJV55-320 from CMYUK.
Mark McInyre (L) and Ken Mardon with the new Mimaki UJV55-320.

VMGS (Visual Marketing and Graphic Services) has installed a Mimaki UJV55-320 UV LED printer, Kongsberg X24 Edge digital cutting table and a Graphtec FC 9000-160 cutting plotter from CMYUK.

The new equipment joins an existing Mimaki JFX200-2513EX flatbed and Mimaki UCJV150-160 UV LED printer with integrated cutter, also purchased from CMYUK.

Back then, the investment in Mimaki equipment enabled the business to bring all its production services in-house, ensuring greater quality control, increased turnround times, improved customer service and significant cost savings.  

This new tranche of equipment further scaffolds the business as it transitions to the next stage of its development. “We want to reduce our production times in order to turn jobs around more quickly. We’ll want to widen our customer base and further enhance our growth, which is the messaging we want to put out there,” says VMGS’ Ken Mardon. 

Steady upward growth

VMGS currently provides signage, retail and vehicle graphic solutions. The new equipment will allow it to service its existing clients more deeply and will enable it to make headway into new sectors such as exhibitions.  

The Mimaki UJV55-320 UV LED printer is a dynamic door opener, allowing the business to fully jump into soft signage, interiors and other textile applications.  From the get-go, this printer has been used to output large volumes of banner either at full width or simultaneously printing smaller dual rolls.

“Not many businesses have a super-wide printer, and this puts us in a strong position particularly around our local area of Market Harborough and Leicester. Companies here are outsourcing their 3.2m work further afield with ten to fourteen-day lead times. We can guarantee a much faster turnaround and we’re on the doorstep. So, marketing wise, we’re starting local and then emanating outwards as far as possible,” says Ken.

Mimaki quality

Mimaki technology has figured from the early days of VMGS.  When it came to boosting its printing output, Ken and business partner – Mark McIntyre – were united in their decision to remain with the Mimaki brand. This was in part due to the business’ trust in Mimaki technology for its quality, speed and reliability.  

The Mimaki UJV55-320 is a dedicated roll-to-roll printer suited to the volume production of banners, retail, exhibition and window graphics and the like, and offers the capability of twin-roll simultaneous printing. It has a resolution of up to 1200dpi. It comes with an automatic nozzle checking system and take-up unit as standard. It also uses the same inks as the company’s Mimaki flatbed ensuring total ease of colour consistency across all production devices. 

“I don’t want lots of different machines running from different RIPs. I want production to run very simply.  If, for example, our production manager is unwell, I like it that anyone can cover because they know the Mimaki printers inside out,” says Mark. 

Kongsberg cutting

Purchasing a Kongsberg was an entirely new experience as up until this point VMGS had been cutting in-house by hand.

“Mark and I have been in the industry for a long time, so we know about digital cutting tables, but deciding what we were going to buy and from whom, took us 9 months. We looked at various different manufacturers, but obviously we have a very good working relationship with Sue Hayward [CMYUK’s sales director, equipment]. She has always looked after us really well, even if it’s just been to ask her a question. Eventually we made the decision to go with the Kongsberg, we know it’s got a good reputation, and we also get the support from Sue and CMYUK,” says Ken.

The business invested in a Kongsberg X24 Edge with a 1kW milling spindle, camera, and standard kiss cut and drag knives.  This digital cutting table is easily upgradeable offering customers the opportunity to advance to even greater speeds and acceleration. Modular as well, tools can be added as and when needed, and VMGS will be adding a Creaser to its table, allowing it to offer packaging solutions.

The first job VMGS ran through the Kongsberg X24 Edge was for a 100m banner run.  The time savings were instantly apparent. “The finishers, the guys that in the old days would be cutting the straight edge with a knife, they’ve now got the time to set up other jobs. It’s early days yet, so we can’t say how much more productive we will be, but with this first job, our throughput increased by 30% and I’m being conservative,” says Ken.  

Graphtec support for additional productivity

The business also purchased a standalone Graphtec FC 9000-160 cutting plotter to increase the productivity of its existing Mimaki UCJV150-160 UV LED printer.  This model has an integrated cutter, and while the dual functionality suited the business in its early days, its increased production volumes meant a standalone cutter plotter was required.

“Four and a half years ago, we had a limited budget and the combined Mimaki print and cut functionality was great for our business – giving us the capabilities we required.  Now we’ve grown and offer more services, we really need to drive our productivity,” says Ken. 

The Graphtec FC 9000 series of cutter plotters is ideal for general sign making applications as well as labelling, car paint protection films, and sand blast stencil materials. A new optional take-up unit enables vinyls to be cut and immediately wound back onto the roll, protecting them from damage. All models in the series come with media catch nets, networking capabilities, a built-in cross cutter plus matching stand. 

Growth and onward vision

When the first round of investment was made VMGS recorded an annual turnover of £600, 000. Four and a half years later, this has grown to over £1.5m. The directors navigated the Pandemic with aplomb, producing and supplying a wide range of COVID safety products including sneeze screens for a nationwide retailer and colleges. 

The business also has its own in-house graphics facilities and is able to offer a 360O service incorporating design, print, installation and project management. Its forward vision is for continued growth and longevity, keeping it, if possible, in the hands of subsequent generations of family members and close working colleagues. 

“We want the largest global retail companies and design agencies to come to us,” says Ken, adding, “Versatility is the key, it’s all about making the right equipment investments that fulfil your customers’ needs. It’s also about a commitment to impeccable customer service, going above and beyond expectations, which is exactly what VMGS does.”  

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