With increasingly tight margins and tougher competition, many commercial print companies are looking for lucrative niche markets in return for a modest investment. To achieve this aim, Belfast based T H Jordan has complemented its long established field of offset production with the addition of a Roland VersaUV LEC-330 UV-curable integrated inkjet print-and-cut solution.
Founded in 1896, T H Jordan has grown steadily to become renowned as a company which produces extremely high standards of print up to B2 using traditional methods of offset litho. Single- and multi-colour jobs are output using its Heidelberg MO and Printmaster presses, a single-colour Ryobi and two Heidelberg platens.
As trends have changed for shorter, more specialist applications, so T H Jordan investigated alternative, niche market areas where its traditional skills could be adapted to suit latter-day production opportunities. Research by the company showed that, not only in the Belfast area but throughout the entire UK, there was a growing demand for proofing and prototyping of packaging along with an increasing popularity for unusual jobs which could only be produced using digital equipment.
Managing Director of T H Jordan, Jim Parkhill, first saw the Roland VersaUV LEC-330 at an exhibition held at Dublin’s RDS, and purchased his system from Roland partner, Print and Finishing Equipment. “We visited this event without any preconceptions or plans to invest, but we were attracted immediately to this print-and-cut system because of the new opportunities it could bring to a traditional print house,” he explains. “Once we had established how we could promote the machine’s potential and capabilities to our customer base, we decided to invest in the Roland – and we haven’t looked back.”
To date, T H Jordan has preferred to work directly with a diverse range of end users. Since investing in the Roland machine, and having fully assessed its benefits, the company is now starting to approach agencies in Belfast, Dublin and London. Already there has been very positive feedback as a result of the stunning quality and the variety of end products that can be produced on the VersaUV LEC-330.
“By showing samples to agencies, incorporating Roland’s flexible UV-curable inks with unusual end materials, our clients were literally blown away with what they saw,” Parkhill continues. “The addition of white and clear varnish offers additional bonuses as we can print onto coloured and metallic media. We can turn into reality a wealth of new ideas for creativity and design – options which haven’t been possible before.”
Now that T H Jordan’s Roland VersaUV LEC-330 is up and running, Parkhill says that the company has three areas on which it is concentrating. Packaging specialists and their agencies are an obvious segment as this is where, before committing to a long run, end customers can see and feel a proof and a mock-up produced on the final material.
The ability for the VersaUV LEC-330 to produce tactile finishes by layering the UV-curable clear varnish is also proving to be a benefit for T H Jordan. As well as being able to output Braille onto packaging samples, the company sees an important market for wayfinding and interpretive signs that comply with the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act).
Another area where T H Jordan sees growing opportunities for the print-and-cut benefits of the new machine is within the label sector. For these applications, short-runs can include variable data such as sequential numbering and personalisation which are complemented by the system’s ability to be used as a proofing device as it can print direct to the media being used in the final job.
The third market for T H Jordan and its Roland solution lies in the commercial sector where design and print combine to produce prestigious items which aren’t practical using traditional offset litho. For example, the company’s initial job output on the LEC-330 was for a range of wedding stationery which included the individual invitations, the order of service and, even the place settings.
“The quality and durability of the output we generate from the VersaUV LEC-330 is complemented by its ability to be used for cutting and creasing of packaging proofs,” says Parkhill. “Yet we can just as easily create innovative and personalised portfolios of wedding and anniversary stationery, plus specialist signs and labels using the same technology. We believe that what we’re producing now is just the start of a long list of opportunities, and we can back this up with the ability to supply customers throughout the UK with extremely fast turn-round times.”
T H Jordan is no newcomer to innovation. As well as producing a broad range of competitively priced, high quality general print, the company has also developed its popular ‘Moneypouch’ school money envelopes for schools. These are designed to simplify the carrying of cash by pupils and its subsequent collection and administration by staff members. Ideas like this can be enhanced and transformed with the addition of the Roland system.
The Roland VersaUV LEC-330 and LEC-540 incorporate the company’s own UV-curable flexible ink formulation and LED curing for instant dry results on all materials. The integrated contour cutting works to the finest tolerances, enabling even small, nested labels and decals to be produced with absolute precision. The machine can be used with vast range of materials, including BOPP, PE and PEF film, plus card stocks, synthetics, plastics, polycarbonates and fabrics up to 1 mm in thickness.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that there is no end to the opportunities for users of our VersaUV LEC print-and-cut solutions,” comments Steve Chappell, Business Manager – Packaging, Proofing and Industrial Labelling at Roland DG (UK). “Many print companies start out with one idea and quickly move onto additional, diverse options once they discover the power and versatility of the machine.”