FUD-MEN moves to inkjet canvas print production with SureColor SC-S printer

New Epson printers help FUD-MEN adopt a print-farming strategy

FUD-MEN moves to inkjet canvas print production with SureColor SC-S printer

FUD-MEN is a family-owned company employing over 500 staff in two plants based in southern Poland. The company’s expertise has made it a world leader in decorative wall products, from artwork, posters and frames to mirrors and shelves.

FUD-MEN’s primary client is IKEA, one of the world’s largest furniture retailers. With a strategic business partnership stretching back over 20 years, FUD-MEN supplies a range of printed products, primarily for decorative applications, which are sold in IKEA stores around the world.

As a result, it produces a large quantity of high-quality canvas prints - 1.2million m2 in 2015 - most of which were printed on offset presses. However the company has now started to invest in Epson large-format inkjet printers to replace its analogue units, to take advantage of the significant production and workflow efficiencies that inkjet can deliver. As a result, FUD-MEN has installed eight 64-inch Epson SureColor SC-S60610 printers alongside its two existing SureColor SC-S50610 machines. In the first three months of operation, FUD-MEN printed around 285,000m2 of canvas prints, ranging from 290mm x 290mm up to 1500mm x 2100mm.

Print-farming for improved flexibility and scalability

Instead of investing in a single, ultra-high-volume printing setup for its needs, FUD-MEN instead chose to adopt a ‘print-farming’ approach. An increasingly popular trend within print companies, print-farming involves installing a series of smaller, identically-matched printers rather than a single high-capacity machine. This provides many benefits including greater flexibility, better scalability and the ability to run jobs in parallel.  

“Our SureColor SC-S60610 printers offer an enhanced range of business and production-driven benefits when compared to our previous machines,” says Krzysztof Maciejewski at FUD-MEN. “Productivity has been markedly improved, primarily by allowing us to maintain high print quality at faster print speeds. In addition, the SC-S60610 features an improved and more accurate roll-to-roll feed mechanism that offers pressure rollers across the entire length of the print area. This effectively eliminates the possibility of wrinkling or creasing the canvas substrate.”

The SureColor SC-S series uses Epson’s latest UltraChrome GS3 inks. These offer a wider colour gamut, faster drying, and less odour. Coupled with Epson’s latest PrecisionCore TFP printheads with variable-size ink droplet technology, upgrading to SureColor SC-S60610 models delivered many practical production benefits. “In order to deliver the desired print quality we often had to print in six – or even eight – passes,” continues Krzysztof. “The SureColor SC-S60610 allows us to print in four passes for about 90% of our canvas jobs.”

High quality and fast turnaround

The SC-S60610 has been designed for high-quality, fast turnaround print environments, delivering exceptional print results across a wide range of substrates. Featuring the latest precision media feeding and auto tension control (AD-ATC) systems, the SureColor SC-60610 offers best-in-class media placement accuracy and substrate take-up. This results in ‘lights-out’ unattended production for all types of roll-fed media up to 45kg in weight. Epson’s PrecisionCore printheads not only produce outstanding 1440 x 1440dpi resolution at enhanced print speeds, but a new automated printhead cleaning process ensures consistent and accurate print quality.

“The new printhead cleaning system substantially speeds-up the entire process, giving us greater uptime and therefore increased productivity,” says Krzysztof. “Our own tests have shown that the SureColor SC-S60610 machines are about 2m2/hour faster than the previous machines. Plus the reduced power consumption of 745W translates into an 18% saving in energy usage. It effectively means we get to use one of our SC-S60610 printers completely free”.

A further factor in FUD-MEN’s buying decision was ink consumption and consumables costs. “Our figures showed that in the first three months after installation, our average ink usage worked out around 25% lower. Together with the lower cost of Epson’s new UltraChrome GS3 inks and the ability to deliver outstanding quality at higher print speeds, the SureColor SC-S60610 helps us keep our edge in an increasingly competitive market.”