Steve Tindall, GRS Group General Manager
When GRS Signs finds a good product it sticks with it. Last month it purchased a Mimaki UCJV300-160 from CMYUK.
This 1.6m wide UV machine is the fifth Mimaki printer purchased by the company in a decade.
This Lincolnshire Company based in Louth, initially installed two Mimaki CJV30-130 solvent printers ten years ago, replacing them with updated versions of the same models five years later.
“They are fantastic workhorses and very reliable,” says Steve Tindall, GRS Group General Manager. “We have never had any major issues with them. They do exactly what it says on the tin. We have been very happy with these machines and can’t recommend them enough.”
The need for white
This year GRS decided to invest in the Mimaki UCJV300-160 because it wanted to print white.
“We were looking at white ink because increasingly we were getting more requests for it, and we had to keep saying we didn’t do it. Now we have Mimaki’s LUS200 four-colour + white UV inkset installed, it’s changed how we manufacture our products,” says Steve.
“Normally we would print, apply a white vinyl to the back and then trim it but the white ink has really shortened the process and the finish is really good. The colours look much more vibrant when you’re working with white ink rather than white vinyl – there’s a big difference.
“I can’t believe how much we’ve used the white ink since we’ve had it, jobs are just coming in and falling into line,” he adds.
The company experienced the advantages and greater scope afforded by this UV Mimaki printer immediately. Its 1.6m width now means GRS can print single piece prints reducing waste and saving time.
Production throughput too has greatly improved. Prints output using solvent inks need to be degassed before they can undergo any finishing, a process that can add another 24 - 48 hours onto turnaround times. UV cured inks are already dry when they come off the printer, so can go straight to lamination, although thanks to their durability short-term graphics don’t require this next step.
“With UV inks there’s no waiting,” says Steve. “Prints can be taken off the printer and laminated immediately as they dry quickly and due to the nature of UV curing, sometimes if we’re producing temporary signage, for example, we don’t need to laminate at all. So UV inks can really buy us time and cut out unnecessary processes.”
In addition, to sign manufacture and installation, wide-format printing, and engraving, GRS has a strong reputation for printing Vehicle Graphics. Mimaki’s LUS200 inkset is perfect for this as the printed surface remains flexible and has the ability to stretch up to 200 per cent after curing without cracking, making them ideal for fleet graphics and other curved surfaces.
Since installing the Mimaki UCJV300-160 during Lockdown, GRS has experienced an uplift in demand for its vehicle graphics printing. “I’m not sure if Lockdown just made everyone focus on their vehicles, but we are booked solid for the next month. We’ve always done vehicle graphics but the demand since we’ve been back has been constant,” says Steve.
The Lockdown experience
When it came to upgrading to a new UV machine, the powers that be immediately went to Sue Hayward, CMYUK’s Senior Digital Sales Consultant.
GRS has worked with Sue throughout the years, she has an in-depth understanding of its business and is trusted for her technical expertise.
The company ordered the Mimaki UCJV300-160 prior to Lockdown but put the order on hold as the UK was ordered indoors.
“We worked the first week into Lockdown to clear up any loose ends and then it was a week into May that I started coming back in because both new and existing customers were asking for COVID-19 related signage,” says Steve.
Within three weeks of returning the Mimaki order was reinstated installed to cope with the urgent need for quicker turnarounds, as the company’s remaining solvent machine couldn’t match demand.
“CMYUK was very good, installing the machine quickly and efficiently. As we are so used to Mimaki we didn’t need much training on the RIP or anything like that, we just needed to be shown the settings and how to work with the inkset. Sue is a real asset, she’s always there if you need her,” says Steve.
While there is still a healthy need for COVID-related signage, Steve says that the company is starting to see glimmers of normality, such as the aforementioned surge in demand for vehicle graphics. Another major sector for the company is education – schools and universities. While there is still confusion as to arrangements for the autumn terms, GRS anticipates large volumes of work that will need quick turnaround and delivery.
Says Steve: “There’s no doubt that the benefits of the Mimaki UCJV300-160 have started to open up a number of new possibilities for us, attracting new customers and providing our long-standing clients a raft of new techniques. We were very lucky with the timing of the machine and feel confident it will stand us in good stead for the months and years to come.”
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