Humperdinck Jackman of Advanced UK, Interviews Ian Clark of Michael Egan Associates, a leading commercial printer based in Dartford, United Kingdom.
For more than 50-years, Michael Egan Associates has seen it all. From their array of four colour litho machines and 27 staff, they survived the industry upheaval as computers forced change. Now, with the Xerox™ Iridesse – the most modern and versatile digital press – they’re going from strength to strength.
I started by asking Ian Clark, who heads up Michael Egan Associates, about the state of the industry, and what’s driving their innovation. Ian replied, ‘when I first started in print all the jobs were lined up, and we’d work through the reds, greens, blues, the PMS etc., and customers would be happy to wait two or three weeks. Now customers will be screaming if they have to wait four hours.’
‘With print done right, I don’t think it will ever go away because people still want to touch and feel something. They still want that nice brochure. Emails just get deleted or filed away, but print is retained as a valuable point of reference.’
Choosing the Iridesse
The firm’s first serious digital press was from a major brand name but, says, Ian, ‘the service was terrible. They just didn’t come in.’ When approached by Chris Hennessy of Advanced UK, Ian first considered the Xerox Versant range but he was most impressed by the Iridesse. Ian continued, ‘we saw the quality and potential straight away and made our decision. Not only was it the right choice, but in lockdown it was a brave move. Initially it was all about the silver and gold, the metallic aspects of digital I’d hadn’t seen before. They were as close to litho as I had ever seen, and that pleased me.’
The Iridesse opens up conversations because it’s the only machine with metal fibres in the toner, and they’re bright!
– Ian Clark
Print room productivity is a hot topic, so I asked Ian about the changeover
sequence to configure the new colours. When first delivered, Ian told me this process took about twenty minutes, but since they became one of the first printers to take the Xerox fluorescent pink kit, this has plummeted to just two minutes thanks to the latest software upgrade. That translates to significant savings!
Ian smiled as he explained, ‘we were one of the first to take the fluorescent pink option and even Xerox hadn’t realised the speed gains of the software update. They were sending engineers to see it for themselves. The upgrade was a Godsend.’
What’s so special about pink?
Ian: ‘with the fluorescent pink you also get the orange which is so close to 021 it’s amazing. These are the summer colours, and designers love them for weddings, flyers, menus, nightclubs, hotels … almost anything. And there’s a whole spectrum of companies wanting it because that Xerox pink is a vibrant advertising tool.’
I’d say that 80 percent of our print is now on the Iridesse and just 20 percent is litho …
I asked Ian to expand on the paper sizes of the Iridesse and he noted that ‘the extra banner is really good, and it’s used on roll folds, landscaped A4’s and more. The digital metallics also save them having to go down the route of SI and two-sheet litho’.
We chatted about productivity, and how everyone wants more specialised job produced in less time and for less money. On this Ian shone some light as to the impact the Iridesse has had on his firm: ‘I’d say that 80 percent of our print is now on the Iridesse and just 20 percent is litho. The Iridesse can’t do thermo work or embossing yet, but this will change. It does work for us. We can be a lot quicker, and we can be up and running fast.’
Thoughts on Digital Gold and Silver
Michael Egan Associates have a strong client base who demand a lot of gold and silver foil, and the Iridesse contributes to this too. As Ian put it, ‘now we can produce samples very fast without the high cost of a block etc. so customers who still want foil can see digital gold and silver samples. And for customers who want to save money, they can use these digital metallics as litho alternatives.Not only are there savings, but they can get their work the same day, which makes the Iridesse an ideal proofing press, because I’m not making blocks.’
As a litho house, quality is key, and the fluorescent colours are opening new markets for Michael Egan Associate too. But when I mentioned the vibrancy of the Xerox digital metallic toners, Ian commented that ‘what I see so far of other digital foil solutions, it doesn’t look that good. For example, the golds look brown or yellow. The Iridesse opens up conversations because it’s the only machine with metal fibres in the toner, and they’re bright!’
An Innovator in Print
With ‘Look Books’ like works of art, they’re innovating too: Ian’s team had chemists develop a unique UV coating, as well as a foil incorporating gold and silver flecks, like glitter. The results look amazing, and it’s a unique offering in the UK.
As Ian said, ‘the Iridesse is opening even more opportunities versus having just another four-colour press. Clients are always looking for something different. We’ve printed business cards onto wallpaper, wood grained paper, and sandpaper! We have to stand out as we’re a small company and we have to be different.’
Iridesse and Letterpress Together
I compared print to the emotional value of an old album cover versus downloading a digital tune through Spotify, and Ian ran with the thought, explaining how foiling was once so popular, then embossing, then thermo. Now, however, a lot of people choosing ‘old school’ approaches and they’re mixing digital print with letterpress. Ian: ‘we print on the Iridesse for the nice bright colours, and then doing we’re blind-embossing over the top which looks like letterpress without the costs and the washing up. It’s a real winner, looks great, and highlights our skills.’
By leveraging print personalisation with the Iridesse, Michael Egan are winning new customers because the wedding stationery opportunity is transformed. As Ian conclued, ‘we can now offer sharp prices with individually named invitations printed in gold and silver, all impossible before.’ This truly sums up the Iridesse advantage and why Advanced UK and Xerox have such a very happy customer.
Humperdinck Jackman – Marketing Director
Humperdinck has a 30-year career spanning Document Management Systems (DMS), data protection, Artificial Intelligence, Data Protection and Robotic Process Automation. With many articles published in print internationally, he believes the advances in office technology are such that we’re entering the 4th Industrial Revolution. Now Director of Marketing and Consulting Services at Advanced UK, he’s as active with clients as he is in endeavouring to write original blog articles.
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