Gardners plans extra HP Scitex XP2300 investmentFollowing the success of its first HP Scitex XP2300 printer, Gardners is planning to invest in at least five more machines. The Cardiff-based company, which was one of the first in the world to install the 3.2m UV roll-to-roll printer, has seen massive productivity increases and slashed ink consumption with the printer which also allows Gardners to meet its objective of printing UV onto more environmentally friendly media than PVC.
The new printer is dedicated to outdoor signage and at Gardeners has cut billboard printing time by up to 50%. Among the first major jobs that Gardners produced on the XP2300 was an urgent order to print 18 rolls of material to clad scaffolding on a development in Bristol. Each roll was 45m long with a printable area of 43 x 2m. Gardners only had 20 hours to produce and deliver the job. The XP2300 produced it in less than 11 hours, using Billboard print mode.
"In the past, the same job would have taken around 23 hours to print," said Kristel Moncarey, digital manager, Gardners. "Plus, our customer preferred the extra smooth print quality of the XP2300, in particular the strength and brilliance of the colours."
Richard Gardner, chairman, added: "I knew this machine was built for billboards but I didn't realize how good the print quality would be. You wouldn't expect to have very fine resolution and quality, especially on things where you are reversing lettering out. But you actually get quite high quality so we are able to use it for other types of applications in a smaller format, such as banners and some fine interior signage, in addition to billboards.
"A lot of what we do is late sold," said Gardner. "All the ads around the country change every two weeks, so theoretically you have two weeks to print the product. But, quite often a campaign will be instigated in reaction to a competitor, and the customer wants to react very quickly, within two or three days. So digital is perfect for that. And the HP Scitex XP2300 is even more perfect because it allows you to put a lot of material through in 24 hours."
In general, Gardner sees three key trends shaping the printing market: speed, cost and environmental responsibility. "We need faster machines and lower cost inks," said Gardner. "The only way to expand the market is to take more work from analogue. At the same time, going green is absolutely critical. We have been looking for environmental solutions for the past five or six years. We believed in it and now all the really big customers are demanding it. Now the majority of work we do is on environmentally responsible materials, like woven polyethylene. In fact, we are trying to phase out PVC."
The low ink consumption of the new printer is another major benefit to Gardners, saving up to approximately 30%.
Founded in 1976 primarily as a screen printer, Gardners is now one of the world's largest digital printing companies, serving many different industries and applications. It has a large and diverse portfolio of products and processes with numerous patents and copyrights, covering the building industry, outdoor advertising media, backlit printing, dye sublimation onto fabrics, metal and aluminum and specialised adhesive technology for use in the financial sector.
The company's growth has been shaped by a keen sense of market trends, such as the fast-growing demand for printing solutions that reduce environmental impact, in terms of the printing systems themselves and the media they print on. It has been fuelled by its near-total adoption of digital printing technologies and its willingness to work with printing equipment vendors to test and refine new technologies and systems. With HP's growing array of solutions for the large format printing market, Gardners is increasingly adopting HP technologies as a key part of its production floor. It currently has a broad portfolio of HP printers including a HP Scitex FB7500, two HP Scitex TJ8300's, two HP Scitex 5100's, a HP Designjet 9000s and a HP Designjet Z6100.
As Gardners continues to grow, Gardner expects that HP will remain an important partner. "As a company we are heavily involved in R&D with materials, inks and processes. And historically, we have run a lot of beta sites with various companies. We do work very closely with HP and they listen to what we want."