While most companies investing in wide-format UV-curable printers are involved primarily in the display sector, Artwork Solutions has always taken its fabrication and print expertise into a different dimension. As a result, the company has made its name as a design-led manufacturer of corporate branding products and services, with its client list predominantly being architects and interior designers who seek innovative and functional solutions that can perform a practical role as well as provide highly aesthetic qualities.
Founded by John Sulzmann and Seath Herbert in 1997, this innovative Bristol-based enterprise has built up a strong, nationwide reputation for providing bespoke graphics and decorative options which also serve a functional purpose, Its solutions are used throughout work-place and leisure environments, endorsing Artworks Solutions’ key speciality for producing high quality output onto unusual materials, with creative combinations of finishes and effects that Seath Herbert (left) and provide both useful and innovative results.
Typically the company can turn its hand to producing digital wallpapers, printed storage walls, acoustic panels and tensile structures which combine practical high functionality with eye-catching designs and features. The innovative combination of fabrication techniques and processes with wide-format digital print is an important differentiator in the company’s application expertise, and this mix has added valuable dimension to the creative talents that drive Artworks Solutions. In addition, blending aesthetics with clever practical features has enabled architects and interior designers to transform interiors from a product that has a purpose to one that incorporates inventive and original graphic elements. Clients now know that practicality can be merged with visual appeal, transforming an original idea into a novel result.
Although print plays an important role in the architectural applications produced by Artworks Solutions, in reality it complements the range of specialist services designed and produced by the company. Projects, which are managed end-to-end, often start with consultation services, followed by sampling and prototyping so that clients know exactly what to expect in their finished products. Three manufacturing units handle the specialist production that’s needed to produce bespoke orders, with print representing one element in many of the processes. Finally, expert teams ensure precision installation and maintenance at all sites throughout the UK.
By the end of 2009 Sulzmann and Herbert realised that UV-curable technology was the way forward when working with many materials where printing direct to rigid substrates and flexible media. As a result, Artworks Solutions invested in a combination roll-fed and flat-bed printer which was supplied by UK distributor, CMYUK, and quickly discovered its use enabled it to diversify further, thus broadening the ability to print direct to unusual substrates and surfaces.
Two years ago Artwork Solutions increased its productivity by investing in a EFI VUTEk GS3250 combination printer, also supplied by CMYUK, opting for its well proven, advanced technology which incorporated faster speeds, finer quality and guaranteed colour accuracy. Always happy with its existing EFI VUTEk UV-curable machine, Sulzmann didn’t need to think twice before returning to the same manufacturer and supplier when the time was right for upgrading.
VERSATILITY FITS THE REMIT PERFECTLY:
The versatility of the 3.2m wide VUTEk GS3250 fits the remit perfectly for Artworks Solutions, with the excellent adhesion of the UV-curable inks making it simple to print durable output onto a variety of substrates and different surfaces. The machine plays a vital role in the creation of processes and end applications where a mix of techniques and methodology is used to generate textures and effects. It’s also particularly efficient when working direct to glass, a material which is increasing in demand across a range of architectural and interior design projects where the combination of light, texture and print can produce visually stunning results.
Reliability is also vital for Artwork Solutions, as is versatility in the way the VUTEk GS3250 can be configured to work with different depths of materials and non-flat surfaces. Media handling is enhanced with a powerful vacuum system, and it has tough, ergonomic input and output tables that can support heavy-weight substrates, with fast and simple change-over from rigids to rolls reducing turnaround times. The formulation of the UV-curable inks means that performance is excellent, with no cracking, chipping or crazing even on the most difficult of materials. The high quality, accurate colours are complemented by the highly opaque white ink that enables over-print, under-print, spot, underspot, fill and overspot.
“The combination of speed and quality is always important to us,” Sulzmann states. “We cannot compromise with the types of application we produce and, for one-offs and longer runs, we needed to have absolute reliability and consistency in results. Working with many unusual, premium and specialist materials, we need results which are right first time and, with unconventional surfaces and coatings, good ink adhesion is vital.”
It is testimony to Sulzmann’s forward-thinking vision that his company is way out in front in its sector; only relatively recently have architectural projects and interior design started to come strongly to the fore with wide-format digital print. But it is also important to stress that discovering the idiosyncrasies of different materials and their uses in this market segment is not a skill which can be learnt overnight. Sand blasting, etching and kiln forming are also integral processes within the capabilities of Artwork Solutions; working with, and mixing, different processes and substrates requires experience in how they will co-exist successfully in finished applications. Building up the knowledge to achieve this successfully and flawlessly takes time.
At Artworks Solutions, creativity and skill come together and mix with technology to generate consistently good and effective results. Additionally, specific knowledge of architectural requirements are paramount to understanding the criteria needed in a segment reliant on both visual appearance and functionality.
Although the digital print element is only one part of the company’s manufacturing processes, Sulzmann is quick to stress that it plays a vital role in the production generated at Artwork Solutions. “The VUTEk GS3250 is the stand-alone bit of the business that makes us money, without a shadow of doubt,” he comments. “We need both quality and speed, and we can’t compromise on standards with the applications we produce. Whether it’s a one-off or a longer run, absolute consistency in results is vital, and good ink adhesion is essential, particularly as we work with so many unusual, premium and specialist materials. The results must be right first time.”
”We’ve always believed in the philosophy of competing on cost and delivering on quality,” Sulzmann concludes. “Years of experience in this market segment has given Artworks Solutions an unrivalled advantage because we understand the techniques, the materials and the production processes. It’s not uncommon for us to develop ways of producing a job which no-one thought was possible, and it’s a combination of design and manufacturing expertise that enables us to bring new and innovative solutions to our customers.”
“Artworks Solutions is an excellent example of a company that has gone way beyond the conventional boundaries of digital print into a specialist sector where wide-format production is only now starting to be taken seriously,” comments CMYUK’s Robin East. “Knowing that EFI VUTEk has played an integral part in the way this enterprising company is able to work with unusual media across a range of applications is testimony to the versatility of the machines, their ink formulations and, in particularly true in this instance, their performance with different types of material