Every day more and more requests for quotations arrive on his desk and increasingly the enquiries are coming from national and multinational companies. These blue chip brand manufacturers and retailers are now simpsongroup's main target market.
Says Mark Simpson: "Our aim is to become the Number One in the screen printing industry - and our on-going programme of investment is designed to help us reach that position." Simpsongroup have also established a new marketing department and opened several new regional sales offices - proof indeed that this company is thinking nationally not locally.
Whereas years ago simpsongroup considered themselves to be another jobbing screen printer in the north east of England, the company made a conscious decision in the late 1990s to move into the big league. In particular, simpsongroup noticed a rapidly growing demand for top quality, large format work and point of sale materials such as free-standing displays made out of printed corrugated. With this huge potential market in mind, Mark Simpson, Bill McNally (Operations Director) and the rest of the management team set out to source suitable equipment. It didn't take them long to realise that the only press capable of handling such work quickly, reliably and profitably was the modular Svecia SAMX. Always keen to innovate and lead the way in the industry, simpsongroup were proud to become one of the first screen printers in the UK to order a new four colour machine. Svecia's sole UK distributors Registerprint, installed it in their print works in 1998. The machine proved such a success that the company soon started to think about buying one of the mightiest beasts in the Svecia stable - a five colour SAMX.
So this summer simpsongroup took delivery of their second SAMX, becoming the first company in Britain to own two of these innovative machines. A five colour model with a huge print area of 2.55 metres by 1.6 metres, it can handle sheets up to 1700mm by 2600mm and as such is the largest and highest specified press in the UK. With its UV flash curing stations and electronic controls, it is also one of the most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly presses ever manufactured.
One of the major advantages of the SAMX is that the machine is easy to operate and the set up times are minimal. This means that simpsongroup can turn around top quality multi-colour jobs much more quickly than before. And according to Mark Simpson, the operators "love the new machine". Another major plus is that it makes the print floor a more pleasant place to work. Between each printing station is a UV flash curing system, which provides a surface cure in seconds without generating any potentially harmful, unpleasant ozone, so expensive ventilation systems are not necessary. The sophisticated and highly innovative technology, developed by Svecia, centres on doped lamps, which emit an extremely high-intensity flash lasting only a few milliseconds. This creates an avalanche of free radicals, which cause the ink to polymerise without creating any oxygen inhibition problems. Two or three flashes are usually enough to cure the ink to a stage where it can be overprinted.
As a result, the SAMX uses only approximately 25% of the energy consumed by conventional curing units. This means that electricity bills are much reduced and at the same time the risk of fire or substrate shrinkage is also minimised. The final curing takes place with the latest Svecia invention: the multi-lamp low voltage UV dryer with a proven lamp life of over 8000 hours.
"The new SAMX," says Mark Simpson, "is capable of delivering high quality, large format work, much of it produced on corrugated. It also handles paper, display board, plastics, vinyl, thick rigid polystyrene, foam board and all other typical materials used in display products, point of purchase, posters and other promotional items. Indeed, our new SAMX means we can print on many different kinds of materials on the same line, which ensures consistency of colours and strengths of tone while reducing the overall production time. As such, it should enable us to land more large volume regular contract work from the major manufacturers and retailers in this country. Such on-going supply agreements reflect how the screen printing business is changing, and we're proud to be spearheading the change."
By investing in a second SAMX, and being the first company in the UK to do so, we are re-iterating our confidence in the screen printing industry and our commitment to exploiting the technology for the benefit of an increasing number of customers. We are determined not to be all things to all people but instead to capitalise on the very lucrative niche in the marketplace, which we have carved out for ourselves. Our two SAMX machines are, without doubt, opening up new areas for us and ensuring our prices and turnaround times are invariably unbeatable. In these competitive times, that's crucial. It means we now have a huge advantage over other processes and other companies, including the litho sector. Yet only a few years ago some people said screen-printing was on its last legs. They'd obviously never heard of Svecia - nor seen a SAMX.