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PPE to expand its display print service with Inca

Press release from the issuing company

When PPE became the beta site for the world's first Onset S20 it added a new dimension to its business – the ability to offer what it considers is the fastest and most competitive display print service to the retail market.

PPE is one of Europe's leading 3D POP manufacturers with screen and Inca inkjet printing forming just one of the many production steps in its manufacturing process. The sheer productivity of the new Onset S20 however has been instrumental in the company deciding to diversify into offering pure display print at volume levels. "We can't stand still," says Neil Parker, joint MD of PPE.  "We have always been a far sighted company and we are investing and expanding where we see a niche."

The company provides a full service from design and production through to installation and it's this 'one stop' approach that gives tremendous strength and has contributed to its success and growth. Its impressive manufacturing facility occupies a 7.5 acre site in Harlow, Essex, where 280 staff design, print and manufacture 3-D POP/Display products for top retail brands throughout Europe, 24 hours a day, five days a week.  

PPE has been using Inca UV large format inkjet printers, supplied by Fujifilm Sericol, for many years and the new Onset S20 sits alongside a Columbia Turbo and a Spyder 320 with four operators cross-trained on all platforms. Innovation is central to PPE's success and investment in leading edge technologies has always been its strategy – which has proven to be a winning one over the 38 years it has been in business. One of the early Inca users, PPE sees digital printing as a core element in its production facilities, giving substantial savings over conventional screen print for short and medium length runs.  "We are always updating our capabilities and over the last year have invested £2.5m on improving our production assets throughout the facility," says Neil.

Soon after installation PPE quickly put the Inca Onset S20's superb levels of performance, quality and flexibility to the test. With the ability to print panels edge to edge up to 3.2m x 1.6m and 50mm thick at speeds of 250sqm/hr (equivalent to 50 full bed sheets/hr), the Onset S20 delivers high-volume production at high speed at a competitive price. "We are really blown away by the capabilities of the new Inca. The cost benefit is amazing. Not only can we now offer a very competitive display print service, it also wins hands down against offset litho for display on cost and speed, and more than matches it on quality," says Neil Parker. "It has added a huge capacity for print and has already opened up new markets for us in retail and fashion display where quality is paramount.  Plus, because we can produce more work in less time, cost of production has been cut and we can pass the savings onto our customers. It represents a real step change for our business."

The Onset S20 uses Uvijet four colour CMYK inks plus the ability to select Fujifilm Sericol Ultratone ink (lights, orange, violet) or white. PPE has chosen the white option to suit the material it produces. This, as well as a choice of matt satin, semi-gloss and gloss finishes, delivers enormous versatility in the range of products that can be printed, e.g. display POP, exhibition graphics, backlit/frontlit displays, outdoor signage printing, etc. The Wasatch RIP provides easy file set-up and in-depth colour management control for a variety of applications. "The white capability is important and the gloss is fantastic," says Peter Clark, PPE Production Director.  "We expect the percentage of gloss jobs to increase as people see the results."

Speed is all important to PPE. "The retail market is very demanding and we are always aiming for the fastest turnaround. Our order book is only 3-4 weeks at any time and its all price/speed driven," explains Neil. "The market is fiercely competitive and delivering quality at speed allows both to keep the business and win business back from Asian suppliers too. The new Onset S20 is all about driving cost down and cutting production time."

PPE has been relying on Inca flatbed digital printers for many years. "Without them we just could not have fulfilled some of the very demanding orders we have received," says Neil. Tesco is a major customer and PPE produces a wide range of display products from leaflet dispensers to signage for its 700 stores all over the UK. For example, signage for 137 different types of fresh produce is printed on recyclable stock as required to suit each to shop's specific range. Again it's the speed/quality combination that Inca delivers that PPE relies upon.

PPE's challenge now is selling it the capabilities of its new printer. "We are heavily promoting the benefits to customers to persuade them to switch from litho to Onset digital," says Neil. "Some customers are initially suspicious but they are starting to realise the environmental, time and cost benefits of printing directly onto display substrates and we are expanding our customer base as a result. Seeing is believing and we have been producing sample jobs to demonstrate its impressive capabilities."