Schiele Group acquire EFI VUTEk h5 UV LED printer

EFI printer will boost Schiele Group’s speed and efficiency

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EFI VUTEk h5 superwide-format inkjet printer
EFI VUTEk h5 superwide-format inkjet printer

The Schiele Group’s motto is “Print Smarter,” but with its recent acquisition of an EFI VUTEk h5 superwide-format inkjet solution from Electronics For Imaging, it could quickly become “Print Faster.” Founded in 1948 by Henry Schiele and now headed by second-generation family member John Schiele, the Chicago-based company prints nearly a billion pieces of printed materials each year using multiple formats, including sheetfed, large small-format digital printing as well as sheetfed and web offset.

The Schiele Group services a broad range of industries, and no job is too big, too small, or too detailed. In fact, according to Patrick Page, vice president of The Schiele Group’s national sales team, “Our whole staff is always up for a challenge.” Those challenges can include large-scale fulfillment of super-wide format graphics for national entertainment and retail accounts going through much-anticipated re-openings across North America.

The Schiele Group often prints on media as varied as styrene, Sintra, and aluminum composite board, which makes the versatility of the VUTEk h5 printer even more important. The 126-inch-wide device is a hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll printer. It features EFI’s “cool cure” UV LED imaging, which helps ensure excellent adhesion and premium-quality imaging on the extensive range of substrates the Schiele Group uses for display graphics production.

Executives at the Schiele Group considered other manufacturers’ devices for a new hybrid device, but the production and reliability advantages of the VUTEk h5 made it the only choice. “We went with the VUTEk because it’s fast and more efficient,” explained Page. “There’s never any downtime, and the print quality is amazing.

While this is the Schiele Group’s second EFI super wide-format printer after the VUTEK GS3250, the company has long relied on EFI’s MIS/ERP workflow software solutions to run the business. The company handles its production workflow using an EFI Midmarket Print Suite MIS/ERP offering, with integrated EFI MarketDirect StoreFront software operating the Schiele Group’s web-to-print capabilities. The company also uses EFI Fiery digital front ends to drive its cutsheet digital printers.

Premium-quality imaging and high efficiency of EFI VUTEk printer

The newly installed EFI VUTEk printer, which is being used for production this month, offers The Schiele Group more premium-quality features, such as a clear ink spot gloss, a persuasive selling point when pursuing new clients. “The spot gloss feature gives prints an extra pop,” said Page, adding that the smaller, reversed-out text the printer can produce is great as well.

The company’s new printer also has three-quarter automation, which automates loading and unloading on sheets and rigid substrates and “will help us be more efficient,” Page said.

The EFI VUTEk h5 with three-quarter automation is part of EFI’s super high-speed portfolio of high-volume display graphics production solutions. The printer’s UltraDrop Technology 7-picoliter grayscale printheads feature true multi-drop addressability, high-definition print, crisp text quality, and the outstanding smoothness in shadows, gradients, and transitions.

Offering superior imaging in resolutions up to 1,200 dots per inch, the VUTEk h5 prints with an eight-color ink set or using its extended-gamut four-color inks in a CMYKx2 configuration delivers high-quality output at speeds up to 109 boards per hour. The cool cure UV LED imaging on the VUTEk h5 reduces the amount of energy needed for curing or drying compared with conventional UV or latex printers. It also allows for printing thin or challenging substrates that cannot withstand the heat required with mercury-arc UV or latex printers.

While many print businesses struggled with slower business during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Schiele Group experienced a significant uptick in large-format digital work, while web and sheetfed jobs remained steady.

“We pivoted to COVID-specific offerings, so a lot of things that we weren’t doing before there was a massive need for, like dividers and other safety-related products,” said the company’s senior marketing manager, Shannon McNealy.

The increased demand for superwide-format digital printing has continued as an event- and entertainment-related work returns. “That’s why investing in large format was key to keep pushing the business and pushing boundaries,” Page added. And, while the average run length for jobs is trending down at The Schiele Group, the overall number of orders continues to grow. The highly efficient VUTEk h5 printer and its three-quarter automation feed and delivery features will help the company keep ahead of demand.

 

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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