When it comes to signs, there’s nothing this Leeds-based sign & display company can’t do and with its new hybrid LED printer, it is will be able to achieve much, much more
CMYUK, Shrewsbury – Aztec Signs has purchased an EFI VUTEk h3 printer from CMYUK, the UK’s largest independent supplier of wide format digital printers, cutters and materials. This next generation, 3.2m wide, hybrid, LED printer is central to Aztec Signs’ continued profitability providing an immutable platform for increased capacity, step-change quality and an environmental-considered design that reduces energy consumption by 82%.
The EFI VUTEk h3 will replace the company’s EFI VUTEk GS 3250 printer, and will operate alongside its existing Esko X-44 digital cutting table, installed 18 months ago and also purchased from CMYUK.
The long arm of wide format
Chris Jameson and Tom Wilton founded Leeds-based Aztec Signs in the former’s sitting room in 1988. Originally a slide presentation company, it was an early adopter of wide format digital printing.
“During the last 30 years, we’ve been through a wide range of large format printers in various guises from water-based machines through to solvent, UV and Latex, so we've got a pretty wide view of all the various technologies,” says Wilton.
The company now has a staff of eight, 18000 sq. feet premises on the outskirts of Leeds City Centre which it owns, and services both trade and end-users. Aztec prides itself on being able to create any type of sign, for any sector across the board, with all work being carried out in-house.
EFI VUTEk hardware arsenal
The h3 is Aztec’s Signs’ third generation EFI VUTEk printer. “We’ve been using EFI VUTEk printers for 12 years now, all purchased through CMYUK which would always be our first port of call for buying printing and cutting hardware. We did look at other machines, but we didn’t find anything that was comparable at the price point,” says Wilton. “It has been on my radar since I saw it at Fespa in 2018.”
Re-imagined and reinvented
The h3 is a belt-driven 3.2m super-wide, industrial volume printer that has a totally reengineered hybrid platform. A ten-channel system, it can output up to 9 layers in a single pass at very high resolution and features 3 rows of Ricoh’s Gen 5 print heads. It also offers a one-day field upgrade path to the H5 configuration that sports five rows of print heads.
The environmental attributes of the h3 are an important benefit for Aztec Signs. According to a Fogra study it uses up to 82% less energy consumption and has less moving parts. It also reduces waste thanks to reliable colour consistency and simple operation, and extends the range of supported substrates including lower cost and added value specialty media. “The h3 is set to give us massive energy savings,” says Wilton, “and helps us improve our environmental credentials, but a key driver is a step-up in quality.”
Hands on, one-on-one action
Aztec Signs purchased the printer after visiting EFI’s demonstration facility in Zaventem, Belgium with CMYUK. Says Wilton, “The trip to the EFI demonstration facility gave us a thorough understanding of how the printer works, what the improvements are compared to other machines. Unlike a trade show setting, we were able to put the printer through its paces in a real hands-on, one–to-one manner. At trade shows, stand demonstrations usually output highly coloured, attractive prints, but here we could really test our true requirements such as a solid red.”
Customer impact and new materials
Wilton believes that the higher quality, greater capacity of the h3 will provide the company with the confidence to strike out for greater volume jobs, without any concerns. “We’ll continue to keep every body happy, continue to deliver on our service turnaround times, but also be able to find additional new clients as well.”
Working with a new LED printer that can support a greater range of materials, means that the company will be reviewing the breadth and types of materials it will be using. In line with its environmental aspirations, Aztec is keen to explore PONGS® materials sold exclusively by CMYUK in the UK and Ireland.
The next generation
The purchase of the EFI VUTEk h3 is about the continued growth and success of Aztec Signs, and as far as co founders Chris and Tom are concerned a marker for the future.
“Chris and I are very much seen as the business,” says Wilton, “but at some point, fairly soon, we’ll want to step back. We have a young workforce and they will be the people who will be taking the business forward and we’re putting them in a position where they can. The h3 is a choice for the next generation, it’s about moving the business forward without us, and I know that this printer will act as a safe pair of hands.”
Front Row L to R: Chris Pattison, Tom Wilton. Back Row L to R: Rob Jameson, Luke Shepherd. The 3 younger people represent the next generation for Aztec Signs.