Radical new curtainside printer for Sapphire

Don-Bur subsidiary, Sapphire Curtains and Graphics, has greatly enhanced its efficiency and capacity with the introduction of a new printer for curtains. A £750,000 investment, the EFI VUTEk Q3r UV LED printer increases productivity by 700%. It also has the ability to print in white.

Sapphire’ general manager Mark Wayman explain: “In simple terms, our older solvent-based printers behaved more like domestic printers. White used to be just an omission of any colour print so you used to rely on the brightness of the material you were printing onto. As soon as the print material started to darken, so too did the brightness of the imagery. The new printer actually prints white as part of the colour set so you always get bright, high intensity colours on any colour background; even metallics.

“The older printers at Sapphire could only print about 2 sets of curtains per day and still require 24 hours de-gassing time before clearcoating. In addition, traditional, labour-intensive signwritten inks used to take between 2 to 6 pairs of curtains per day with a 4-strong team. Today, the new cool LED curing printer can print all requirements at a rate of 14 curtain sets per day with no extra drying time.”

Sapphire can now process printed trailer curtain orders in one day in comparison to the previous 3-4 day turnover cycle. This reduction is helped by the clearcoating being part of the printing process, rather than having to wait 24 hours for the initial print to dry. Another benefit is the new printer’s 71% reduction energy consumption, just 2.9kW compared with its predecessor’s 10kW.

Wayman explains the need for increased productivity. “Years ago, it was just plain curtains but everyone wants livery on their curtainsiders and not just the back doors now. A good 90% of my production is livery on curtainsiders. Nothing plain really goes out the door now.”

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