"An overly guarded secret," commented one of the visitors about the possibilities of the KBA-MetroPrint Genius UV52 at the Wifac Open House in the Netherlands.
Similar to the rest of Europe, the graphics sector in the Netherlands is facing severe economic conditions. More than 20% of the employment opportunities and turnover have been lost since the start of the crisis in 2008. What is the printers' strategic response to the financial malaise?
Wifac is a graphics business based in Mijdrecht, just south of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. This successful importer of, amongst others, KBA presses has no intention of throwing in the towel. Their graphics experts are making every effort to provide maximum support for their customers in a difficult market. One of their many activities is the Open House event, which put the Genius 52UV in the spotlight. In mid November over three hundred visitors were given the opportunity to see the press in action and to pose dozens of questions.
Even though the press has now been on the market for almost five years, not all graphic artists and designers in the Netherlands are familiar with the machine. "I noticed the Genius 52UV in photographs in professional publications. The machine attracts attention due to its design anyway, but I wanted to see for myself how this technology works and what its possibilities are."
Wifac Commercial Director, Robbert Amse stated: "A huge application range, cost effectiveness and user friendly operation - these are the benefits that this futuristic, waterless press has to offer our clientele in the Netherlands. One of the main features of the Genius 52UV is its format. Our customers are looking for new market opportunities and possibilities, particularly in the 36/52 format class. The one and two colour offset machines are being replaced by printing machines. Printers are also on the lookout for interesting niche markets. And what better niche than the waterless UV concept? This really sets you apart from the crowd."
The Genius 52UV is suitable for many applications across a wide market. The press has been developed for the synthetics market, in which it is extremely successful, but it can also be used in many other applications, such as the cardboard and paper market. KBA-MetroPrint presented visitors with models based on a thin wood substrate to take away with them. Dyed-in-the-wool graphic designers were amazed by the problem free technical exploits of the press.
Not all printers are looking ahead. Because the press is so user friendly the Dutch template manufacturer Maku in Beuningen had already opted for a machine from Wifac. Martin Kuipers of Maku uses the press to print synthetic labels for plant trays. The ink's colour, dimensional accuracy and light fastness have to meet the most stringent requirements when exposed to rain and sun. UV offers the perfect solution.
Kuipers: "The label displays information for the consumer, for example the plant name, the amount of light it requires and other useful information to ensure optimum plant growth and flowering. Research has shown that the use of labels increases sales by at least 10%."
The machine has more than proven itself in practical applications. It is robust and user friendly and produces repeatable print quality.
Kuipers is not in the least bothered by the fact that Maku mills templates and produces labels rather than being a printer. "Our workforce is familiar with the operation of complex machines, so a printing press does not faze them. Once the installation was complete we attended a training course and that was that."
An alternative view
According to Robbert Amse the Genius is equally at home in a creative market. "A market in which you can excel by utilising different materials or a market in which short lead times are essential. Finding new markets is of vital importance to many graphics companies. Alternative techniques make it possible to reach markets that, until recently, were inaccessible. A unique machine enables you to stand out from the crowd, which in turn implies making money away from competitive positions."
One of the visitors to the Open House was in total agreement with Amse. "We are all familiar with the current state of affairs in our sector. More of the same is no good in the long term. We are also involved in printing and I remain a printer at heart. Maybe the Genius 52UV will help us source new markets with innovative techniques, for example in the field of synthetics."
During the Open House the KBA-MetroPrint Genius 52UV excelled with its ability to switch between orders at breathtaking speed. The press, which is equipped with UV drying, had no trouble printing on up to six completely different substrates.
"The machine is waterless, equipped with UV and reaches the correct colour level after five to seven preliminary sheets. The stable printing process produces impressive colour strength with razor sharp prints. Adjustment times are minimal and reproducibility is highly accurate on repeat orders", concluded Amse.
One of the visitors to the Open House could hardly be dragged away from the Genius 52UV. "I find it hard to believe that there are only two of these machines in the Netherlands at present", he commented. "I am trying to establish whether this suggests that those who recognise the possibilities of the press have access to a broad based market, or whether they are embarking upon a lonely and successful adventure. I have an answer yet and the idea of a broad market is highly appealing."