Hélio Corbeil invests in EFI VUTEk printers and pace MIS workflow

Partnership is for offering new services to the customers

EFI VUTEk Q3r roll-to-roll printer
EFI VUTEk Q3r roll-to-roll printer

Hélio Corbeil is partnering with Electronics For Imaging for a transition into digital printing by investing in an EFI VUTEk h5 UV LED hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll printer, an EFI VUTEk Q3r UV LED roll-to-roll printer, an EFI VUTEk FabriVU 340i dye-sublimation printer, and EFI Pace MIS workflow software. The Paris-based company decided to enter the digital printing space to offer new services to existing customers and attract new customers. 

“We want to be able to provide a set of unique and complete services to our customers from the digital printing of magazines and all types of communication materials, such as leaflets for advertising, municipal services, etc., and large-format printing, while also offering a professional and personal experience,” said Bruno Arasa, CEO at Hélio Corbeil. 

Hélio Corbeil’s partnership with superior technology and personnel

Hélio Corbeil has nearly reached the 200-year-old milestone, specializing in high-volume gravure printing. Gravure, however, has been on the decline for several years, and Hélio Corbeil has experienced decreases in volume and price wars, not to mention environmental challenges. 

“It was important for us to get out of the volume/price spiral,” said Arasa. “We, therefore, took the step last year to first launch digital printing for small and medium-sized magazines as well as for large-format communication. 

“EFI was an obvious choice because of the versatility its printers offer. They allow for creativity but especially excel in productivity, where we will be able to meet short deadlines from our customers quickly. Because of EFI’s reputation, we know the company will help us in our ambition to become a new major player in this market.

“But it is important to note that the machines are not everything,” Arasa added. “It is also the men and women who make up the EFI network who supported us in our digital journey. Our success will also be their success.”

New technology innovation for a new, revitalized company

With the changing landscape and the major pivot in business model, Hélio Corbeil is rebranding to a new name emphasizing its digital printing capabilities as H.C.N., or Hélio Corbeil Numérique. Along with the rebranding, the 30-employee company is moving to a new, 6,000-square-metre facility in Combs la Ville, France.

Versatility, productivity, and high-quality

With the new EFI VUTEk h5 printer, H.C.N. will position itself in a new market while providing customers a high-end guarantee on printed products. “We chose the VUTEk h5 for its ability to maintain a high level of color quality while keeping a high speed,” said Arasa. “In a world where uncertainty has become the rule, even more so post-COVID 19, we wanted a press that could quickly switch from rigid to flexible and vice versa.”

The new 3.2-meter printer provides superior efficiency and quality in eight colors plus white and up to nine-layer print capability. With a resolution of up to 1,200 dots per inch (dpi), the printer’s eight ink channels can be employed in a faster CMYK x 2 mode capable of producing up to 109 boards per hour. 

H.C.N. invested in the EFI VUTEk Q3r roll-to-roll printer to better position the company in the large-format space. “To become a major player in the large-format market, we needed a very productive roll-to-roll printer with many integrated finishing options so that we don’t saturate our cutting fleet unnecessarily,” said Arasa. “Additionally, the quality of the VUTEk inks, which are certified according to environmental criteria, will also allow us to use a wide range of media with very good durability.”

H.C.N.’s new 3.5-meter roll-to-roll printer prints up to 558 square meters per hour and features up to nine ink colors standard CMYK and optional lc, lm, lk, white and clear coat. H.C.N. will be able to gain outstanding smoothness in shadows, gradients, and transitions, as well as precise and sharp 3-point size text with a proper resolution of up to 1,200 dpi.

The two new UV LED printers at H.C.N. include EFI UltraDrop™ Technology, featuring native 7-picolitre printheads with multi-drop addressability for high-definition image quality. The UV LED curing ensures energy cost savings compared with mercury arc UV and latex printers for more environmentally friendly printing that consumes less energy while enabling the use of thinner, heat-sensitive substrates. 

With the new EFI VUTEk FabriVU 340i dye-sublimation printer, H.C.N. will be able to deliver premium soft-signage textile graphics. The machine prints up to 250 square meters per hour and is also the first production-level solution in its class that offers direct-to-fabric production and in-line sublimation without the need for a separate calendar/heat press. As a result, H.C.N’s direct-to-textile prints – such as fabrics for beach flags, textile walls, or Smart Frames are immediately ready for finishing and shipping after printing.

“We couldn’t go into the large format without also investing in a machine that prints on textiles with sublimation,” said Arasa. “To us, the VUTEk FabriVU 340i was the best combination of quality and speed. The choice of VUTEk was also to remain consistent with the rest of the equipment and to have only one interface and one supplier. This should make us more efficient, more cost-effective, and more in control of the processes of all the large-format printing technologies.”

H.C.N.’s new printers also feature EFI Fiery proServer digital front ends, which combine faster RIPing with enhanced color management and screening features.

EFI MIS/ERP for a full ecosystem

Ensuring that it has a well-rounded, complete system in place, H.C.N. has also invested in EFI Pace MIS software to improve efficiencies further, cut costs, and maximize profit potential. As part of EFI’s Midmarket Print Suite, Pace offers smart software solutions in an integrated and certified workflow, allowing for an end-to-end approach to process improvement in eCommerce, marketing, shipping, warehouse, fulfillment management, and planning and imposition.

“We are still in the implementation phase with Pace, but we can already see the advantages of this agile solution,” said Arasa. “Having to manage productions as diverse in our projects pushed us to select a solution that is very flexible and capable, especially in the order-taking process. Whether an order is for a B2B or B2C customer or from our sales force or our web-to-print solution, we are able to provide all requirements needed in a timely manner reliably.”

EFI Pace has also helped Hélio Corbeil in resource planning. “Managing not only machine resources but also human resources are challenges where Pace is helping us succeed, where versatility and reactivity are required,” Arasa said. “The automation of processes and even business know-how is mandatory to be competitive and focus on tasks with higher added value.”

Paul Cripps, vice president of Europe Sales at EFI, stated: “H.C.N.’s journey represents exactly what we do best: enable and support businesses in their transformation from analog to digital. With our expertise in digital and H.C.N.’s tenacity, together we will streamline the entire production process for increased competitiveness and boosted productivity.”


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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