As one of the earliest UK pioneers to adopt wide-format flat-bed printing, John E Wright’s investment pattern since those early days of UV-curable production has continued through the years so that it has always been able to take advantage of the newest technologies as and when they become established as quality production processes. A long-established business based in Nottingham, it was founded originally as a specialist supplier of blueprints adding computerised production back in the 1980s.
Formed in 1900, John E Wright was originally set up as a specialist supplier of blueprints, making the transition to computerised generation of drawings and plans for the AEC (architectural, engineering and construction) markets in the 1980s. The growth of digital acceptance throughout all disciplines led the company to expand into the graphic arts sector and, as a result, it provides a vast range of related services to its ever expanding customer base, with increasing demand for versatile and complex wide-format printing and cutting on both rigid substrates and roll-fed materials.
As an early user of flat-bed UV-curable printers, John E Wright’s Managing Director Tony Barnett has seen the technology evolve and improve as the years have passed. Printing direct to substrate has long been a vital part of the company’s capabilities, with expectations for high quality and tough durability becoming more exacting as clients realise the advantages available from wide-format digital output. During the past decade, the requirement for fine detail has also become more important, with highly detailed point-of-sale and retail applications necessitating greyscale capabilities. This is essential so that precision shades can be matched to brands’ colours and areas, such as detailed skin tones, fine text and solids can always be reproduced with clarity and accuracy.
Although Barnett’s experience included wide-format printers that worked with both roll-fed and rigid materials, he was aware that the latest investment by John E Wright needed to accommodate high throughput speeds, the ability to produce highly accurate results and accommodate the ever-broadening requirement to work successfully with non-traditional and, sometimes, tricky substrates and surfaces. “We also knew that we needed to be able to print across a full 3.2m width on all types of media, as well as have the ability to create output quality that was comparable with offset litho and screen-printing,” states Barnett. “After looking at options from other manufacturers, we decided to purchase the VUTEk GS3250LX Pro from EFI as it ticked all the boxes for our present and future requirements.”
The printer has now been in operation for twelve months and has fulfilled its obligations on all counts, with its greyscale print-heads achieving droplet standards that, hitherto, were not achievable. Additionally, because the machine incorporates EFI’s ‘cool curing’, its LED technology has helped John E Wright to extend the media types it was using, enabling it to work on traditionally difficult materials and heat-sensitive surfaces that tend to be compromised with conventional mercury arc lamps. Julie Boaden, Business Graphics Manager at John E Wright, works closely with Technical Director, Alan Edwards and both are now highly experienced with the capabilities of the VUTEk GS3250LX Pro. “Working with this printer gives us far more than superior quality and fast throughput rates,” she says. “We now have the ability to use tricky substrates without compromising production speeds, and this means we have no problems with the buckling and surface damage that could result from using the traditional UV-curing lamps incorporated into our older machines.”
“EFI’s ‘cool cure’ technology enables very delicate and difficult materials to be printed giving us the assurance that we will get total consistency during the LED curing process,” confirms Barnett. “Former experience with UVcurable technology proved to us that mercury arc lamps vary in their intensity and efficacy depending how far they happen to be through their average 1,000 hour life cycle. Using LEDs has given us additional stability as the longlasting lamps save on the running costs and change-over times needed with traditional curing methods.”
“There are additional, significant benefits to EFI’s ‘cool curing’ technology,” adds Edwards. “As well as their durability and consistency, LEDs have faster start-up times so we can be printing within five minutes, unlike mercury arc lamps that took time to warm up. The VUTEk technology is so reliable that we’ve had less than one day’s down-time in a whole year.”
Dovetailing neatly into John E Wright’s expansion plans, the VUTEk GS3250LX has proved to be the perfect companion for the company’s more recent investment into a new Zünd cutting table with a G3 XL-3200 system superseding its older PN L-2500 which has been in use for the past ten years. The additional speeds and overall faster throughput from the printer meant that backlogs were forming in the company’s cutting department and, in combination with a vastly improved print-to-cut workflow, it is now straightforward to generate intricate printed creations that are shaped to precision tolerances that satisfy the most demanding of output requirements.
The combination of VUTEk GS3250LX Pro and the Zünd G3 XL-3200 has resulted in John E Wright winning numerous new and prestigious contracts in the retail sector, with faster turnaround times complementing the high quality yet cost-effective results generated with both these machines. Typical applications include permanent and temporary signs and displays, point-of-sale applications and intricate graphics that require both high quality print and specialist packaging tools to generate creases, folds and clean-cut edges. With extended substrate types also being employed, thanks in part to the printer’s LED technology, greater versatility across a wider range of materials is now straightforward, whether this is Dibond, acrylic, lighter weight foam-boards, rollfed media and corrugateds. “This latter option has also enabled us to address new markets,” comments Boaden. “With our durable print quality and excellent ink adhesion combined with the power and flexibility of our new cutting table, we are now producing increasing amounts of packaging mock-ups as well as complex freestanding point-of-purchase units for the retail sector.”
Software has played an integral role in the increased throughput times, adding essential accuracy parameters at John E Wright. The company quickly became an enthusiast of Fiery XF proServer which, installed with the VUTEk GS3250LX Pro, provides high speed productivity in an end-to-end workflow and supports seamless input of data, colour management plus spot and process colour optimisation. Aided by greyscale technology. smooth gradients are ensured, with removal of compression artefacts and clean highlight areas, plus simple profiling algorithms and fast RIP speeds.
“Fully integrated workflow using Pitstop preflighting and Prepare-IT inposition and cut preparation allows for a huge increase in speed and efficiency of files throughout the building,” states Edwards. Complemented by Zünd’s Cut Centre software plus the G3’s tooling options that include routing, V-cut, universal and kiss-cutting and creasing, the combined result provides a highly efficient, reliable print-to-cut solution. In addition, with greener practices in mind, processing now reduces manual intervention and the margin for error, along with significant waste reduction thanks to complex nesting procedures for step-and-repeat or small-sized jobs.
John E Wright has ISO14001 and ISO9001 accreditation. Edwards emphasises: “The VUTEk wideformat printer’s ‘cool cure’ LED lamps and their associated reduction in energy costs and carbon footprint significantly helped our renewal of our ISO14001 accreditation for 2014.”
The VUTEk GS3250LX Pro was the first investment into an EFI printer by John E Wright, although the company has had many years of experience working with wide-format technologies from a variety of manufacturers. Also available as the 2m wide GS2000LX Pro, this series’s capabilities now also extends to the GS3250LXr dedicated roll-fed version and the 5m GS5500LXr that accommodates superwide-format applications.
With a turnover of more than £6 million and around 100 employees, John E Wright has seven regional offices located throughout the country. The VUTEk GS3250LX Pro and Zünd GS XL-3200 cutting table are both sited at the company’s principal print production unit in Nottingham. Barnett believes strongly that the company’s steady and circumspect investment philosophy has now resulted in the perfect partnership between the two technology manufacturers, proving to be an unbeatable combination for fast, consistent, accurate and reliable print-to-cut capabilities.
John E Wright & Co Ltd
115 Huntingdon Street
Nottingham NG1 3NF
Telephone: 0115 950 6633