Rotherham-based John Brailsford Printers has installed a Xerox Iridesse six-colour toner production press and is benefiting both from its speed and the ability to retain customers via the special colours that the press supports.

The company, which has recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, has used Xerox colour and mono digital presses for the last decade, in addition to two PressTek DI offset machines that are still in regular use, and added a Versant 3100 five years ago.

‘Prior to Covid, we were needing an extra press and wondering what to do next,’ founder John Brailsford told Digital Printer, adding, ‘We were going to add another Versant for volume and capacity.’ With the arrival of the pandemic, the purchase had to be put on hold, but the company weathered the lockdowns well, through Mr Brailsford ensuring staff retention and via ongoing support from loyal customers.

Once in a position to resume the search, Mr Brailsford was introduced to the Iridesse by Xerox account manager Sarah Timlin. ‘Sarah showed me the Iridesse, which was new to me, but outside our budget and running costs. We worked on the numbers, servicing and click charge; I took a bit of convincing, without seeing the machine in the flesh but we put it in on the basis that it would be returned if we didn’t like it.’

The decision was taken in May this year and the installation was completed in June. Mr Brailsford was impressed by both the speed of the machine and by its print quality. ‘It eats work and its corner-to-corner tints and solids blew us away, you wouldn’t know it wasn’t from a Heidelberg 75,’ he commented. But as well as solving the productivity problem, the new press has provided ways for the company to enhance its offering to its clients.

‘The icing on the cake is the gold, silver, white and clear colours. We’ve never done metallics without a separate process, but now we can do it the same day, without £50 or £100 blocks and dies, all in one pass and in perfect register,’ said Mr Brailsford. As part of its own familiarisation with the capabilities the extra colours offer, the company has been adding them to client jobs. ‘We’re doing it as a complementary service as part of our learning process which helps our designers in the studio.’

Applications are both aesthetic and pragmatic have included laying silver tint under sci-fi themed illustrations, replacing CMYK ‘gold’ mixes with actual gold toner and using the clear toner to produce a gloss finish on die-cut labels without having to buy additional label stock. The long sheet ability to print to 1.2m has also been used for one-off retail display headers to which gold detailing was added. ‘We’re holding the customer’s hand, saying ‘look what we can do’, we’ll work with you to give you something different,’ said Mr Brailsford.

‘We’ve got the toner unit change down to three minutes, Xerox says 15,’ he added, noting that the metallic silver is the most popular of the additional colours. The addition or substitution of the special colours is done in the prepress studio using Adobe Illustrator, with edited artwork then dropped into the Fiery JobFlow software on the DFE.

In addition to the ability to support fast-turnaround work, including same-day, the arrival of the Iridesse has allowed the Versant 3100, which has a variety of inline finishing options including a GBC punch for wire and comb binding as well as square spine binding, to be brought back into greater use for jobs that don’t need the quality or extra features on the new press. Horizon equipment for offline booklet-making and perfect binding is used for appropriate jobs from all the presses.