BTP Craftscreen enters new era with Colourbyte
Colourbyte's ink-jet imagesetter system has revolutionised the way BTP Craftscreen works
Having existed in one form or another for more than one hundred years, BTP Craftscreen has needed to adapt with the times in order to thrive. With its roots in etching, the print firm has since moved into screen, litho and gravure printing as its operations have expanded. Most recently it has embraced digital ink-jet, with the purchase of an Epson SureColor SC-T7200 in combination with PosiPrint film and Wasatch RIP to replace its traditional – and more expensive – image-setting machinery for making screen separations for posters.
“We looked at direct-to-screen equipment many years ago but the technology was not quite right at that point,” explains Russell Inglis, production manager at BTP Craftscreen. “Many of our jobs require 120 to 150lpi so it’s highly technical work. We didn’t think that direct-to-media digital ink-jet would be of sufficient quality.
“When we revisited the concept of making film separations using an inkjet printer and were shown the SureColor SC-T7200, we saw it was possible to get the results we wanted,” he continues. “We organised tests on the machine at Colourbyte and saw how it could deliver the promised cost savings, as well as producing a good quality film output.”
BTP Craftscreen were initially shown seven-colour A0 test jobs on PosiPrint polyester-based clear films to give a point of comparison with their current imagesetter films and to test the printer’s operating limits before the purchase went through. For Colourbyte sales support manager Bill Tucker, who handled the initial enquiry and subsequently installed the print engine, this dynamic was an important part of the process.
“I tend to ask for sample work from customers as a matter of course ahead of a sale to make sure that the machine will produce the application that they are looking for,” he explains. “With BTP it was important that we were competitive on pricing, but more vital was having a number of conversations with them and building up a good relationship.”
The SureColor SC-T7200 is a high-speed machine able to deliver 2,880 x 1,440dpi output and borderless printing. With a three-watt stand-by mode and cartridges that can hold up to 700ml of ink, the device offers a low total cost of ownership for print houses. For BTP Craftscreen, this efficiency has meant that separation films produced by digital ink-jet is now an option for roughly 90 percent of its current poster jobs.
BTP is reaping the benefits of being able to use a Wasatch RIP with the printer to set linearisation, as well as ink density and dotgain. Combined with PosiPrint’s micro-porous ink-receptive coating and inherent stability, BTP was able to attain the high-density film separations needed to make screen stencils.
The 1.2m width achievable with the SureColor SC-T7200 also gives the company scope to handle materials of greater sizes: its Linotronic 560 and Oyo Liberator GMax 42 devices can only process films of 0.51m and 1.06m wide respectively.
“While we were very traditional originally with our operations, now we offer a mixture,” Inglis confirms. “You can become a bit cocooned and ignore the possibilities around you; for instance, where we would have screen-printed onto corrugated board in the past, this can be done much more easily with digital ink-jet.”
“When we sell a machine, we like to make sure that it is suitable for what the client wants to achieve,” concludes Tucker. “Had we had any doubts that the SureColor SC-T7200 wasn’t right for the work that BTP does, we wouldn’t have recommended it.”