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Opening its first Chatham-based print facility in 1986, Speedscreen's core business was serving the London advertising community. A subsequent move to Maidstone in 1996 allowed the company to expand, now operating a 15,000ft2 facility from which it offers a range of printing services to a broad client base, including blue-chip companies.
With screen printing a specialty, the company offers screen prints up to 3,000 by 1,500mm in one pass, one of the largest screen machines in the South East. This print capacity is complemented by a UV drying facility, helping the company stay at the forefront of new ink technology while also reducing solvent emissions.
Speedscreen was an early adopter of flatbed digital printing, with a Durst 205 installed in 2004. This machine is complemented by an eco-solvent digital print and cut capability up to 1,370mm wide for printing on paper, banner, canvas and self-adhesive, semi-rigid and self-cling PVC.
Speedscreen's managing director, Tim Hill, takes up the story: "Over recent years Speedscreen's customer base has grown and with it their expectations regarding print quality and time-to-market.
"Our Durst 205 was working round the clock producing quality colour images direct to substrate and we simply needed more capacity. So began an 18-month detailed search that eventually led us to the Durst Rho 800 Presto. We visited exhibitions and supplier show rooms looking at the latest digital technology. However, when we combined the capacity, quality, footprint and hybrid capability of the Durst Rho 800 Presto it was the outright winner. It also helped that we were an existing Durst customer and had experienced its high level of customer support. We believe this amazing machine is one of only 10 in the UK and is capable of printing at up to 120m2/h.
"Having chosen the machine, the next challenge was its installation. We employed structural engineers to design a vibration-free load bearing mezzanine floor to support the five tonne machine. We had to remove the front of the building and construct a 14m scaffold tower which supported the machine as it was inched into place. The whole operation was nail biting."
In operation, the Durst Rho 800 Presto has increased the company's digital output tenfold. In the run up to the Christmas retail period the machine has been hard at work producing photographic quality coloured images direct to variety of substrates including mirror board. This can be a tricky substrate for UV machines as there is a danger that the substrate will reflect the UV lamp and cure the ink in the print head. However, the Durst Rho 800 Presto is engineered to overcome this. The machine runs six colours including white under print and white over print, again increasing substrate versatility.
Other equipment running alongside Speedscreens new digital capability includes a Kongsberg production table, installed in 2008, which offers cutting, milling, kiss cutting and sample making capability. This lets the company handle complicated cutting requests without the need to design and manufacture expensive dies.
For campaigns requiring a combination of four and single colour work the company also operates two Serifast screen printing machines (1,800 by 1,200mm and 2,150 by 1,500mm) with twin UV drying capacity. These machines print materials up to 8mm thick at 1,000 sheets per hour. Print quality is maintained via an in house squeegee cutter capable of dressing squeegees up to 3m long.
Finally, the finishing department now boasts a new guillotine offering 1,850mm cutting capacity, one of the largest such machines in the South East.