SOLOPRESS SHINES WITH INVESTMENT IN KONICA MINOLTA’S MGI JETVARNISH 3DS, BRINGING EMBELLISHMENT IN-HOUSE

SOLOPRESS SHINES WITH INVESTMENT IN KONICA MINOLTA’S MGI JETVARNISH 3DS, BRINGING EMBELLISHMENT IN-HOUSE

SOLOPRESS SHINES WITH INVESTMENT IN KONICA MINOLTA’S MGI JETVARNISH 3DS, BRINGING EMBELLISHMENT IN-HOUSE

Solopress is one of the UK’s leading players in the online printing services sector. A member of the Germanyheadquartered Onlineprinters Group, the company employs over 300 staff and is celebrating 20 years in business in 2019. With the aim of bringing embellishment capabilities in-house, Solopress has partnered with Konica Minolta to install an MGI JETVARNISH 3DS with iFOIL S. Based in Southend-on-Sea, in Essex, Solopress deals with a very high volume of business. The online specialist ships out around 2700 orders each day, and in March 2019, saw order number 2 million fly out the door. Products range from business cards, flyers, leaflets and brochures to roller banners, posters and canvas print, and much more. The majority of orders are B2B, servicing smaller companies including resellers, agents and printers, along with some B2C work for end customers ordering direct. Managing Director Simon Cooper, who has been at the helm since the beginning of 2019, is keen to stress that despite its super-fast delivery USP, Solopress is not just your typical e-commerce business. “Although we acquire customers through our online portal – and if those customers choose to, they can handle the order and checkout process in a self-serve way – we are also able to handle them in an offline, traditional way, with a large team of people working with those customers after initial contact to further build relationships. It’s e-commerce acquisition, but not a pure e-commerce business model,” he explained. Solopress runs a vast fleet of offset and digital presses, along with platemaking and finishing equipment to match. An impressive investment programme in 2019 has seen the company update its digital capacity, both wide format and B2 sheetfed, to support continued growth.


CHALLENGES


As e-commerce has matured, with many more companies on the market, the need to offer added value has increased. Simon said, ‘The lowest-hanging fruit – business cards and flyers – has been picked in e-commerce, so as we move forward, it is vital that we find a differentiator. We have to be a little more creative and get into the longer tail of products. The big shift has happened, and online businesses have benefited from that, but now we have to look at how we serve a wider range of customer needs.

“The JETVARNISH 3DS fits perfectly with that vision. We can now offer digital varnishing, foiling and tactile effects to embellish products and create a higher value to the customer and to the end customer, but at a fairly low cost. It means we can cater for a wider array of demands.”

Until the installation of the MGI JETVARNISH 3DS, Solopress was sending jobs that called for spot UV varnishing and foiling out of house, and the processes were done using conventional analogue equipment, which added quite significantly to the cost.

“We’ve always had the demand from our customers to do those types of products, but the difficulty has been that the processes were very traditional and costly,” says Simon, “and customers couldn’t see the value in that additional expenditure. They’d love to have some foiling, but not at that price. With digital embellishment, the cost is relatively negligible, but the perceived value is much higher.”

He continues, “A lot of our customers are interested in small quantities, but historically if someone wanted foil on a run of, say, just 20 copies, it was just not economical, both in terms of cost and time, as we would have to send the job out of house. Digital embellishment with the MGI means that we can cost-effectively and quickly provide embellishment on very short runs in-house. It also means that we are in control of the whole process.”
 

SOLUTION


Simon has been leading Solopress on its recent path of major investments as new printing capabilities have been added in both the digital sheetfed and wide format departments, including two HP Indigo 10000s presses and two Agfa Anapurna printers, which have joined seven Xerox iGens and a raft of Heidelberg litho presses. This increased capacity helped facilitate a growth in turnover from just under £21 million in 2016 to £28.5 million in 2018.

Originally, the plan was to wait until next year before more investment, but the business case for taking on a digital embellishment machine was building fast. Naturally, the company assessed various digital foiling and embellishment options on the market but found that the offering from Konica Minolta was the most versatile and flexible.

The JETVARNISH 3DS uses MGI’s UV inkjet technology combined with piezo drop-ondemand (DOD) printheads from Konica Minolta to add UV spot varnish onto offset or digital prints. The varnish can be built up to 116 microns (or 232 microns with the Twin Bar option) for a tactile feel and 3D effects. This is combined with an inline iFoil S module to add foiling and embossing effects for the ultimate luxury look and feel.

Fully automated, perfect registration is achieved by the AIS SmartScanner, which uses artificial intelligence to do away with traditional crop marks. Print speeds depend on the type of embellishments, starting at 2,077 A3 sheets per hour, and the machine handles sheets up to 36.4 x 102 cm in size. The software manages jobs on-the-fly and comes with a catalogue of patterns and predictive printing cost calculator.
 
At Solopress, the MGI JETVARNISH 3DS will initially be adding spot UV varnish, tactile effects and foiling to business cards, leaflets and brochures produced on all the company’s various printing presses, before the capabilities are rolled out to more applications.

“We have now switched all our outsourced work in-house and the transition has been very smooth,” commented Simon, when asked if the machine has lived up to expectations. “And our operators have really enjoyed the new challenge. They have found it very easy to pick up and learn.”

The Solopress team is constantly assessing the market and looking at new opportunities. “Our focus for the future is higher added value for our customers and also optimising what we already o ffer,” says Simon. “We’ve achieved our main objective of bringing previously outsourced work in-house and we are now looking at growing the market by building on that base. I’m very optimistic about the potential of the MGI JETVARNISH 3DS.”

“The perception of what Konica Minolta can bring to the table for commercial printers is definitely shifting,” commented David Evans, Business Development Manager, Industrial Print, Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd. “Whereas we may not previously have been considered to be a relevant supplier for this type of business, the MGI offering has changed that, and the partnership with Solopress is a first-class example of how it fits perfectly into a top-level online business.”
 

quotation marks

“The JETVARNISH 3DS fits perfectly with that vision. We can now offer digital varnishing, foiling and tactile effects to embellish products and create a higher value to the customer and to the end customer, but at a fairly low cost. It means we can cater for a wider array of demands.”

Simon Cooper

Managing Director, Solopress

quotation marks

“We’ve achieved our main objective of bringing previously outsourced work in-house and we are now looking at growing the market by building on that base. I’m very optimistic about the potential of the MGI JETVARNISH 3DS.”

Simon Cooper

Managing Director, Solopress

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