Fujifilm's Acuity Series Diversifies the Market Offering and Enhances Efficiency at QPS

Founded in Stoke on Trent 27 years ago, QPS has established a solid reputation over the years as a reliable and experienced screen printer. Specializing in the retail sector, it produces a wide range of point of sale applications such as posters, banners, plastic and cardboard displays for high street brands.

Since 2002, QPS has embraced digital print, seeing it as an unmissable opportunity to enable the company to diversify and streamline its production. Stuart James Copeland and Russell Fairweather, directors of QPS, explained: “Screen print requires expensive set up times and, despite the uniqueness of still being able to carry out added value applications like glitter and metallic effects, it’s no longer competitive for short run prints and quick turnaround jobs. Integrating screen with digital was therefore essential to meet tight deadlines and keep winning new and on-going business.”

QPS entered the wide-format arena with the installation of a couple of roll to roll solvent-based printers, joined in 2008 by its first UV flatbed machine, Fujifilm’s Acuity HD 2504.

Jamie and Russ clarified: “Following the introduction of the first digital roll-fed devices, we were printing on flexible materials, which were then laminated and mounted onto rigid substrates. However, increasing requests for print-on-demand and the need to cut down costs for vinyls and other materials persuaded us to consider investing in a flatbed printer to print directly onto rigid media. Fujifilm’s Acuity turned out to be the perfect device to deliver cost-effective and high quality jobs in the most efficient way.”

In the last few years, QPS’ digital business has boomed and nowadays the company needs to fulfil an increasing number of time sensitive projects. “We work with advertising agencies and blue chip brands that often run short, reactive campaigns, meaning they call on our services at the very last minute. Clients ask for quick delivery, at a particular price, with no compromise on quality. It’s a challenge for a print service provider to meet all these requirements and stay competitive.”

In order to boost its production, QPS invested in a second digital flatbed printer in 2010. This time Jamie and Russ chose a Fujifilm Acuity Advance HS. “The introduction of the Acuity HS has been pivotal to our success. Not only can we now manage higher volumes and guarantee photographic like quality, but we can also save on running costs and provide customers with more competitive prices.”

Fujifilm’s Acuity Advance HS flatbed printer offers the perfect combination of print quality, production output and investment cost. Near-photographic quality images can be achieved at typical production speeds of 30 sqm/hr and the highly efficient UV curing system delivers excellent print results. In addition, the flatbed design employs a zoned vacuum system to hold all types of media, including substrates with uneven surfaces. The optional roll media unit can also be installed to print a broad range of flexible materials. Finally, the Acuity Advance HS extends the array of applications thanks to a white ink option which complements the standard four colour CMYK ink set.

Jamie and Russ are pleased with the features offered by the Acuity Advance HS. “The unparalleled quality and the extended series of substrates we can print on, including corrugated and fluted board, Dibond and Foamex, together with acrylic, glass and much more, make this printer a valuable addition to our production environment. What’s more, the inks guarantee strong adhesion, vibrant colours and a more competitive cost per m2, while the white ink is a great addition to help print onto clear materials.”

Thanks to the Fujifilm installation, QPS has also explored new markets such as interior decoration and packaging. The ability to create outstanding fine art applications on canvas and other premium materials, together with the opportunity to print on corrugated board and produce samples of boxes and prototypes had led this way.

“Today at QPS, out of 17 employees, five operators work on our digital equipment while four look after the screen printing machines. Since the integration of digital print within the work environment ten years ago, the company has moved approximately 70 percent of its business to this technology.“

“Wide format print has helped us to be profitable, and the purchase of flatbed technologies has given us an additional push. With the roll-to-roll machines we were able to reach up to 80m2/hr per day, now we can easily achieve 350 sqm/hr. In addition, our turnover in 2012 will be over £1 million and it’s fair to say that, if we hadn’t invested into the Fujifilm Acuity devices, this figure would have been considerably less.”

Jamie and Russ are nothing but satisfied with the overall service offered by Fujifilm. “The performance of the Acuity printers has been perfectly matched by the professional support of the Fujifilm technical and sales team. Fujifilm is a reputable brand that has always lived up to our expectations.”

Looking ahead, Jamie and Russ are assessing the opportunity to install a new flatbed printer to further enhance the company’s productivity, as the pressure for faster delivery times continues to rise. “While an investment in a screen printing machine has a longer life, digital is a fast moving business where technology developments are ongoing and necessary. We will be continuously looking into further technology progress to support the growth of our business,” they concluded.