Digital & Embellishment Lineup Refreshed

May 2, 2024  •  217 views  •  3 mins

Posted in: Investment, News

Digital & Embellishment Lineup Refreshed

Our latest round of invest sees two Xerox Versant 3100s replaced with brand-new Versant 4100 XLS engines with vacuum feeder for large sheets, that were installed in December and March.

March also saw the purchase and installation of a Vivid Matrix Metallic 370 digital foiler, and the firm has put an order in for a new Horizon BQ-270 binder. Both machines are intended to bring work back in-house for Blackwell, according to managing director Tom Davison.

He told Printweek that the overall investment package would help Blackwell boost its turnover, aided by a new hire in its sales department last month.

He said: “Before Covid, we were just under £2m turnover, but we had around 28 staff, so were quite highly over-leveraged at the time.”

Since then, the company has changed dramatically: now on a basis of £1.3m, it is served by just eight staff.

“We’re in a far better gear to move forward. Ideally, within a year or two, we’ll get back to £2m. Our new salesperson will focus entirely on winning new business, and has already started to yield results, so if he achieves his goals, we should be around £1.7m by the end of the year, and that should put us on a good footing in the new year.”

The new equipment will be key in helping Blackwell Print achieve this mission profitably. 

The new Versants, replacing two end-of-life engines, have already impressed with the vacuum feeder for long sheets. While the 3100s had been able to print these longer sheets, accurate registration had been difficult, Davison said.

“We could print long sheets, but it was a very Heath Robinson [mechanism] – it was quite temperamental, but the 4100s have completely overhauled the process. 

“The top tray is now a proper vacuum-fed tray, which allows us to move up to the heavier-weight stocks and do full landscape work, which is highly requested. It has certainly made a big difference,” he said.

Getting the Matrix foiler has likewise been good, with the machine getting equal use as embellisher and laminator.

“It’s something we’ve always been keen on, but we used to put all our foiling work out [to trade printers]. That’s fine when you’ve got pallets of it, but when you have shorter runs, it becomes unviable,” he said.

Impressed by a demonstration, Blackwell Print made the purchase and has taken the foiling work in-house, as well as taking short-run lamination work off its industrial Autobond laminator.

Davison said: “When the digital department needed 250 business cards laminated, it was frustrating because you had this huge monster of a machine designed to run pallets of work interrupted with tiny little jobs. 

“[The Matrix] is a lot more efficient, too, with a warmup time of just 10-15 minutes compared to over an hour – if we had to turn on the Autobond specifically, it’s quite a consideration for the energy.”

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