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Mon09222014

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Rhos bloom bigger in Peckham

Rhos bloom bigger in Peckham

A bigger eco-friendly factory has allowed McKenzie Clark to install some seriously large print and cutting kit and win a lengthy Olympics job. Simon Eccles took the tour.
When large format print specialist McKenzie Clark moved all of 50 m to a brand new, bigger and ecologically wonderful print factory in March, it crossed the postcode boundary from London SE1 to SE15. That's Peckham, Only Fools And Horses territory. Hence a booking for Cockney rockers Chas and Dave to play at the factory's launch party at the beginning of July. This drew more than 250 customers from a Who's Who of customers who place work for brands such as L'Oreal, River Island, De Beers, Samsonite, Asprey, Thomas Pink, as well as the more culturally oriented British Library, National Maritime Museum and BBC.
The main reason for the move was space. The old building, which the company first occupied in the early 1990s, was fine for McKenzie Clark's photolab business and was originally divided into a series of darkrooms. As the company moved into ever larger digital printing and finishing operations, particularly for signage, there was no longer enough room. Moving to the larger factory with its 1,750 m2 floor area and 4.2 m high ceilings has freed up McKenzie Clark to install some massive kit and to go after new types of work in signage and display.
In total the spend has been just over ?1 million, says MD Graham Clark: about ?600,000 on new production equipment, and ?400,000 on fitting out the building.
Actually the new factory and most of the kit has been operating since April, apart from one missing player. A Durst Rho 350R roll printer was installed first. Its companion, the world's first Rho 800 Presto UV flatbed/rollhybrid, was due a couple of days before the launch party. When Image Reports July went to press in late June, we reported that the Rho 800 was turning up on 2 July. By the time IR reached readers a week later, it was already out of date: at the last moment the delivery was postponed for three weeks. McKenzie Clark's existing Rho 205 flatbed has filled the production gap, but this will be sold once the six-colour, 2.5 m Rho 800 is running.
Now Durst says it will deliver on 24 July, just after IR goes to press again. So by the time you read this, there may actually be a Rho 800 up and running in Peckham.
The larger factory has allowed McKenzie Clark to install a Durst Rho 350R, a big fast 3.5 m wide UV inkjet configured for roll-to-roll work, and a huge Z?nd cutting table that can handle sheets of practically anything up to 4 x 2 m, with camera-controlled automatic registration. A 2.05 m Rho 205 used in the old factory has been retained for rigid materials until the Rho 800 arrived. A couple of Durst Lambda colour transparency recorders are still used regularly, mainly for backlit Duratran output for lightbox displays. However, Clark expects the UV printers to increasingly take over their role. Hot and cold-seal lamination completes the regular finishing equipment, though there's a small department for hand production of any unusual stuff that needs production by hand.
"We do some installations, and we also do lot of packing by store, where sets of material are tailored for individual sites and delivered together," says Clark. A big signage job for a major multi-site music retail chain has just gone through in this way.
Clipped to a light box when we visited were a couple of large format backlit pics of a face from a cosmetics company. "We showed these two samples to a major cosmetics company," says Clark. "One is a Duratran from a Lambda and the other is a backlit UV print from the Rho 350." There was no real visual difference from the normal viewing distance of a couple of metres.
"The UV material is 25% cheaper and tougher too," Clark points out. "On a normal inkjet you see graduations in the highlights. With the 350 it's a perfectly smooth vignette. At FESPA 06 and 07 we looked into them all and Durst had higher quality than any of the others." The Rho 800 promises even better imaging than the 350, he says. "It will be almost as good as the Lambdas. The key is the quality of the droplets - the resolution is 600 dpi but the placement is carefully controlled. It's also incredibly fast.
Before the move the company operated a large format HP Scitex XLjet solvent printer, but that's now been sold to a company in Brazil. "The Scitex was slow and customers are increasingly asking for eco-friendly inks," Clark explains. "Also the solvent was another problem to colour manage. Now we only need to profile UV inks."
There's an HP Designjet and a 1.3 m Gerber printer-cutter on the first floor next to the design department. "We do a lot of cut vinyl for inexpensive retail graphics," Clark says. "These are mostly Illustrator/Quark files, so the printer and cutter are next to the Mac design department. We use the HP for 1,250 to 1,500 mm graphics. However the Rho 350 is now used to output backlit graphics and vinyl. We're keeping the Designjet 5500 as a proofer for the Lambda."
A new Caldera Rip, to be used for all printers, should help with the colour management, Clark hopes. "We work with a lot of different media, and we have the Lambdas, the Rhos, the Designjet. So we need to try to match them within their tolerances. The Lambda works in RGB, where the printers are CMYK. Malcolm Rose here does all the profiling and it's almost a full-time job. Caldera claims that it will let us assess the colours are achievable, ie if a Pantone colour can be matched or not."
McKenzie Clark is going to need all its extra elbow room. At the end of June it won a huge contract to produce and erect the 3 m high printed hoarding that will surround the Olympic building site until 2012. That's a 5 km length to be completed and installed by October/November this year. It'll need an awful lot of Dibond: more than 3,000 sheets. That'll give the Rho 800 a healthy workout. Lovely jubbly.  

A more economical atmosphere
McKenzie Clark's new factory is a lot more than just a shed to keep the rain off the printers. Running along the ceilings in the main working areas on both floors are strange flexible tubes about 60 cm in diameter, pierced with small holes. Looking like escapees from a Doctor Who set, they inflate or deflate at intervals: the building is literally breathing.
Clark explains: "We worked with a specialist company Harry Taylor to control the temperature and humidity area by area. They looked at the building and the airflow and came up with a complex proposal for climate control, mainly based on evaporative cooling. It uses far less energy than air conditioning, you can still use it with the windows open, and it doesn't need horrible gasses, just water." Peckham Spring water?
Evaporative cooling is a relatively new alternative to conventional air conditioning, predicted only to use 10% as much energy. A five year interest-free loan from the Carbon Trust is helping with the installation cost.
Our cool wet summer so far hasn't tested it to its limits, though Clark says that the stairwell, which isn't served, is noticeably hotter. It also has a spin-off benefit of humidifying the air, which helps to keep the paper conditioned. The system only works across large open areas, so small air conditioners are used in the handful of closed offices and meeting areas.
The ground floor production areas look like any modern but functional print factory, apart from the air circulation tubes slung from the ceiling. However upstairs is a visual treat, with glass-faced meeting and administrative offices grouped around a large open plan area occupied by design and production staff with their Macs. The ceiling tubes are concealed by bright orange cloth, though they still breath in and out.
Callum Lumsden from the prestigious Lumsden Design consultancy was responsible for the space planning and modern look. McKenzie Clark has worked with Lumsden in the past on museum and brand print work.

A more economical atmosphere
McKenzie Clark's new factory is a lot more than just a shed to keep the rain off the printers. Running along the ceilings in the main working areas on both floors are strange flexible tubes about 60 cm in diameter, pierced with small holes. Looking like escapees from a Doctor Who set, they inflate or deflate at intervals: the building is literally breathing.
Clark explains: "We worked with a specialist company Harry Taylor to control the temperature and humidity area by area. They looked at the building and the airflow and came up with a complex proposal for climate control, mainly based on evaporative cooling. It uses far less energy than air conditioning, you can still use it with the windows open, and it doesn't need horrible gasses, just water." Peckham Spring water?
Evaporative cooling is a relatively new alternative to conventional air conditioning, predicted only to use 10% as much energy. A five year interest-free loan from the Carbon Trust is helping with the installation cost.
Our cool wet summer so far hasn't tested it to its limits, though Clark says that the stairwell, which isn't served, is noticeably hotter. It also has a spin-off benefit of humidifying the air, which helps to keep the paper conditioned. The system only works across large open areas, so small air conditioners are used in the handful of closed offices and meeting areas.
The ground floor production areas look like any modern but functional print factory, apart from the air circulation tubes slung from the ceiling. However upstairs is a visual treat, with glass-faced meeting and administrative offices grouped around a large open plan area occupied by design and production staff with their Macs. The ceiling tubes are concealed by bright orange cloth, though they still breath in and out.
Callum Lumsden from the prestigious Lumsden Design consultancy was responsible for the space planning and modern look. McKenzie Clark has worked with Lumsden in the past on museum and brand print work.