AlphaGraphics invests in EFI Pro 16h UV LED Printer

Printer was purchased from authorized EFI dealer Nazdar SourceOne

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EFI Pro 16h UV LED wide format printer
EFI Pro 16h UV LED wide format printer

Looking to grow its large-format business amid growing post-COVID market demand, the AlphaGraphics franchise in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has invested in an EFI Pro 16h UV LED wide format printer manufactured by Electronics For Imaging.

Purchased from authorized EFI dealer Nazdar SourceOne, the hybrid roll-to-roll/flatbed inkjet printer bolsters the premier marketing and printing shop’s services to its local clients operating in a wide range of vertical markets, including food, medical manufacturing, real estate, government, and education.

Chris Carrier and Chris Oberg purchased the business in October 2019 and brought the AlphaGraphics franchise brand to the previously independent shop. Carrier and Oberg brought a vision to grow the business. They had the idea to invest in a hybrid machine that could bring more efficiency and greater variety and capabilities than what the shop’s existing roll-to-roll printers offered. “We have a philosophy of continuous improvement when it comes to sales and operations,” said Oberg.

Working closely with their Nazdar sales contact, Carrier and Oberg researched the EFI printer and were impressed with its performance. Strategically designed with a comprehensive package of features to assure the lowest total cost of ownership, superior image quality, and an ability to handle a wide range of substrates, the Pro 16h printer promised growth possibilities that Carrier and Oberg were looking for. 

“We try to push our customers toward creative thinking, but people equate creativity with higher costs,” said Oberg. “The Pro 16h gives us the ability to push creative boundaries at a lower cost.”

The availability of local service from the EFI display graphics operations located a short distance from AlphaGraphics Portsmouth – and valuable input and feedback from a network of other AlphaGraphics owners – helped convince Oberg and Carrier of their decision. “We are active in our network of other AlphaGraphics owners who use a lot of different flatbeds,” said Carrier. 

“There was a large contingency of owners who were glad they went with EFI and said they would make the same choice if they had to go back.” The duo can also bounce ideas off their AlphaGraphics colleagues who are experienced with the same printer and handle similar customer projects. “Having that additional network of support goes a long way,” Carrier said.

Leveraging efficiencies and lowering TCO with the EFI Pro 16h

Before installing the Pro 16h printer, printing rigid-substrate jobs was a multistep process at AlphaGraphics Portsmouth, involving a roll-to-roll machine and the manual mounting of printed sheets to boards. “Every rigid material job involved cutting, applying vinyl, rolling through twice, and trimming everything,” said Oberg. “That multistep process is no longer needed for a majority of our orders, simplifying around 90% of our orders.”

The Pro 16h printer’s powerful UV LED technology can print directly on a wide range of substrates that cannot withstand the high heat required for curing or drying with traditional UV or latex printers.

AlphaGraphics Portsmouth’s new printer features an EFI Fiery proServer Core digital front end with Fast RIP acceleration technology that helps get work prepped and printed faster than before. The team was familiar with Fiery, having used it on its cut-sheet digital printers. The training helped the team adapt quickly to the new hybrid large-format device. “After installation and training, our staff really took to it,” said Carrier. “They saw the efficiency and elimination of extra steps.”

Four hours of labor savings daily

The shop has already started to benefit from higher throughput and a more reliable production turnaround. Printing at resolutions up to 1,200 dots per inch, the EFI Pro16h prints at a production speed of up to 311 square feet per hour in four colors, and it includes a high-quality, highly opaque white ink that gives AlphaGraphics Portsmouth more options to produce vibrant, full-color work on projects printed on clear or colored substrates. 

Between the printer’s technical capabilities and the shop’s new ability to print direct to substrate, AlphaGraphics Portsmouth has saved about four hours in labor every day and eliminated the need for reprinted jobs that resulted from human error. “We’re seeing growth as our customers recover from COVID,” said Carrier. 

“We couldn’t quite justify hiring an entirely new team member, but the time and labor that the EFI Pro 16h has saved us essentially equate to half of a person. “Our customer-facing folks have become more confident in committing to job fulfillment,” he added. “That’s a benefit you can’t necessarily measure, but you can feel it, and it makes a real impact.”

 

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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