With the value that embellishments such as foiling and spot varnish can add to printing work, it is not surprising that many businesses are jumping on board to pretty up their print. The question soon comes up, however: when should printers invest in their own embellishing kit, as opposed to outsourcing to a for-trade finishing house? Jake Nelson spoke with the experts to find out.
The decision whether to outsource finishing or bring it in-house can be a tricky one, weighing up the benefits of having control over your own equipment versus the expense of machinery you might not use as much as you hope to.
David Murphy, national sales manager at embellishing supplier Kurz Australia, believes investing in new equipment is worth considering but the value of trade services should not be disregarded. “Buying your own equipment provides increased control of the production of the work. Sending work to a trade finishing house relies on their availability and priorities, and you need to factor in the cost of freight to and fro.
“On the other hand, trade embellishers offer service and experience, as well as you not having to invest in equipment that may not be fully used,” he said.
According to Murphy, many trade services have multiple options for application on various size sheets and substrates; that is not their only advantage, however. “Using a trade service is buying not only the time on their equipment, but their expertise,” he said. “There is a tradeoff between flexibility and control on one side, and quality, expertise and experience on the other side.”
All about the customer
Konica Minolta supplies the MGI range of digital embellishment solutions in Australia, including the entry-level cut-sheet JetVarnish 3DS, the top-range JV3D Evo, the JV3DW for labels, and the MGI Meteor Unlimited products for foil and print. David Cascarino, national manager for industrial print at Konica Minolta, said MGI’s success took off when Konica Minolta assumed control of distribution in Australia. “We have had five installations since May last year when we stepped in – two Meteors and three JetVarnishes. Customer feedback has been positive, not just from our clients but their customers as well,” he said.
According to Cascarino, printers should focus on their customers’ needs when deciding whether to invest in new equipment. “It’s not about volume – it’s about value, and whether the return on investment can be realised across the smaller volumes that would produce a positive return for the customer,” he said.
The MGI range is not pitched at huge runs, adds Cascarino. “These machines are suited for short-run, high-value customers, not vast amounts of embellishment work,” he said. “Once a customer has the type of clients that would make this a positive investment – based on value, not volume – then we would advise them to invest in their own equipment.”
Cascarino believes this technology could be used for a wide range of applications.
“It is suitable for book covers, high-end brochures, promotional and even packaging work,” he said. “This type of product really complements short-run packaging, which is a growth sector in our industry – examples of typical applications are whiskey boxes, labels for wines, and health and beauty.”
One MGI user is Revolution Print in Ballarat, which purchased a JetVarnish 3DS with an iFoil embellishing machine from Konica Minolta. The unit arrived in September, and Leon Wilson, director, is already pleased with the output. “The quality it is producing has been impressive,” he said.
Revolution’s new JetVarnish unit is capable of producing 2D and 3D spot varnishing plus foiling, and enables the printing house to take full control over the embellishment process. “Due to the number of jobs we produce on a day to day basis, the ability to control the job from start to finish made perfect sense to us,” said Wilson. “Small quantity embellishing is now also not only an option but a cost-effective option.”
Wilson says he and fellow director John Schreenan are pleased with the MGI purchase. “We pride ourselves on being a quality printer and this adds a feather to our cap, allowing us to do some detailed embellishing,” he said. “It also means we can create amazing concepts and present them to our clients, so they can touch and feel how their projects could actually work.”
The new machine hasn’t taken over all of Revolution’s embellishing needs – trade services still come in handy, says Wilson.
A company purchasing its own equipment and still outsourcing work is not an uncommon occurrence, according to Darren Delaney, general manager of trade finisher Allkotes. “Some companies have installed their own equipment, which took business away from us, but we also believe that this opens opportunity where these companies are selling what we do. That can only be a positive for us.
“As a trade finisher, there can be a sense that a customer buying their own kit hinders your relationship. We don’t see it that way – we want to provide all of our staff with a future, so we are there to support our customers,” he said.
Allkotes provides more than 50 products in its range of coatings, laminations, and special effects. These include its 3D product 3D Optix, the Mirra film range of holographics and metallised films, heavy-duty Tough Matte, and its Soft Metal range for print from digital devices including Ricoh and HP Indigo. “We are proud of the fact that all of our products are made in-house,” said Delaney.
Delaney believes that purchasing new equipment is often just the beginning for printers, as it opens up new business areas that will require a trade finisher’s expertise. “They’re going after work they previously wouldn’t have considered, and the overflow of that work can end up at Allkotes. The key is wanting to maintain our relationships with these companies,” he said.
The embellishment requirements of Allkotes customers can change as often as the seasons, says Delaney, but their demand for experienced trade finishers remains constant.
“We find that they gravitate to us because they like to deal with people who know what they’re doing, the experts in their field,” he said. “A lot of our customer requirements are time critical, and making sure it’s done right is crucial to any business – crucial to your reputation and repeat work.
“Getting it done professionally and done once makes the whole process seamless.
Terry Newman, director, says that Foilmakers - part of Milford Astor - prides itself on its service offering, saying, “it is second to none”. Newman also says, “We have a wide range of products, so if someone decides they want a metallic pink or crimson or whatever, we can make it. We are a fully Australian-owned company, and we have plenty of sales representation – our sales reps are in front of the customers a lot, so we can hear and adapt to their needs.”
Newman points to cold foil, sourced from Univacco in Taiwan, as a growth area for Foilmakers’ customers. “There is increasing demand for roll-fed and flatbed cold foil, and Univacco has proven to be excellent for that range of our products, he said.”
Kurz cold digital
At Labelexpo Chicago, Kurz introduced its new DM-Liner UVInk roll-to-roll digital cold foiling systems, which come in built-on and built-in configurations, for conventional and digital label presses respectively. According to national sales managr David Murphy, the system uses inkjet heads to print adhesive onto the substrate. “We print the data in the glue, nip the foil over it, and then it is attached to the rails of a conventional web-fed press, the built-on unit is an independent cold foiling station with unwind and rewind. The only integration with the press is to have a sensor for registration from the previous print station,” said Murphy.
Duplo enables embellishing
For printers looking to enter the embellishing market, there is no need to break the bank. Affordable solutions like the Neopost-supplied Duplo DDC-810 digital UV spot coater can help add value to print, without costing the earth.
Offering embellishment services such as UV spot coating is a great way to stay ahead of the game, says Jimmy Nguyen, product manager at Neopost. “Embellishment is a growth area in the print industry, because people want to set themselves apart from everyone else and add value for their customers. Spot UV creates a raised image, which adds more impact to print,” he said.
According to Nguyen, the Duplo DDC- 810 is an affordable finishing solution with a low initial cost of investment, which means it is suited for those looking to get in on the ground floor. “The technology has been around for a long time at a high price point. The DDC- 810 opens up the market for smaller players to get into spot UV,” he said.
Not only is the DDC-810 affordable, it is also accessible, says Nguyen – its ease of use means expensive additional staff members are not required. “You don’t need an experienced operator, which means running costs are also lower,” he said.
Printing in a single pass at 600dpi, the DDC-810 is a digital machine, meaning it is well suited for short runs and ondemand finishing. “It can turn around short or long-run jobs – if a customer needs 1000, 200, or even a single sheet, that’s simple to do. Make-ready time is low, so you can turn around short-run work quickly,” said Nguyen, adding it can print directly onto print from both dry toner and liquid toner printers.
Scodix shines in versatility
With more than 300 installations around the world, Scodix digital embellishment units such as the flagship Ultra platform are a trusted name in digital finishing. Distributed in Australia by Currie Group, Scodix kit is employed by companies running the gamut from small boutique finishers to multinationals.
As a digital finishing platform, says Gil Cortes, product specialist at Currie Group, Scodix kit cuts out the tooling and setup time of conventional embellishment units – and it has an advantage over its digital competitors as well. “Unlike any other digital finishing technology, the Ultra platform is able to process a wide range of substrates from uncoated paper to synthetics, metallised or black paper, or even canvas.
“Therefore, Scodix is the only digital technology that is able to match the versatile media demands of traditional offset and the wide range of media from HP Indigo,” he said.
Coming next year, the new Scodix E106 will offer all the versatility of the Ultra series plus the ability to handle B1 media at a speed of 4000 sheets per hour. “The focus market will be the folding-carton mainstream printing segment, but the platform will be just as effective for the general commercial printing segment,” said Cortes.
According to Cortes, Currie Group and Scodix are a natural fit. “Currie Group paired with Scodix, being the leading technology in the digital finishing market, and Scodix selected Currie Group to represent its technology in Australia and New Zealand backed by our outstanding reputation in service and engineering,” he said.
“As with any other technology that we offer at the Currie Group, Scodix is backed by our experienced support team led by our Currie Care Centre and our Scodix certified engineers.”