Artisan Signs Broadens Scope With New Mimaki UJV55-320 Printer

Kettering-based signage, exhibition graphics and specialist wide format producers, Artisan Signs has bolstered its already impressive kit list with the purchase of a new Mimaki UJV55-320 grand format LED UV inkjet printer.

Established back in 1997 as a sign making operation and now run by Graham Davey and wife Alison, supported by a team of 10 people; the business has always been keen to diversify and seek out new market opportunities.

Graham takes up the story; “Artisan Signs has a strong focus on development, continually adapting in response to market and customer needs, with a clear vision and future goals.  A key strategy for the business has been to invest in good quality equipment and we keep ourselves well abreast of the latest technological developments in the wide format print industry.”

The relationship they have developed with Preston-based Mimaki reseller, Granthams seems to have played an important part, as Graham explains; “We first purchased equipment from Granthams some 18 years ago and have always found Sue and Jamie really easy to work with and hugely supportive in every way possible, with a level of market knowledge and attention to detail that really sets them apart.” 

As well as a long and successful relationship with Granthams, Artisan Signs has an equally positive attachment to Mimaki kit as Alison Davey explains; “Like any business we have had and continue to use a variety of machines, but Mimaki always seems to have delivered the reliability and performance that a business like ours needs.”

Fuelled by changing customer needs and the demand for wider format print with even higher levels of print quality and output volume, the search was on for a new UV printer that would meet those requirements. Graham explains what influenced the decision to purchase the Mimaki ; “For some time we had been outsourcing all print over 2m wide to third party suppliers and felt the time was now right to bring production back in-house, giving us much greater control, particularly when faced with challenging timescales and short deadlines.”

Unfortunately the biggest barrier to such a move was likely to be cost, as Graham explains; “There’s always been a huge gap between established roll-fed printers bought by typical small sign and graphics printers and the much more expensive super-wide offerings, generally found in larger sign and exhibition factories. With many of the 3.2m machines we were looking at costing anything between £150k and £200k, this would have been a very significant commitment for the business.  When we first heard about the launch of the Mimaki UJV55-320 LED UV printer with a price tag of around £60k we could scarcely believe our luck – certainly you might normally expect low-cost super-wide printers like this to be built by smaller manufacturers, with the lower price raising the spectre of poor build quality and doubtful reliability. But our experience with Mimaki over the last 15 years or so reassured us that we could expect it to deliver – for our business they have always proved to be ‘trusty workhorses’ that just keep on going.”

With the new machine now well established in the business, Artisan finds itself in the enviable position of being able to satisfy a broader range of customer requirements in-house, with more control over deadlines and output quality, as well as being more profitable. Grand format PVC banner is the main output at present, but the company is observing a rapidly growing shift towards printed textile for applications such as exhibition and backlit graphics, which the UJV55-320 takes in its stride.

As Alison concludes; “Graham and I did a fair bit of research before making this investment and observed a few industry commentators describing this new Mimaki UJV55-320 as being a real ‘game-changer’ for the sector, particularly at this price point. Watching our team use this machine and seeing the positive impact it’s had on both our productivity and profitability – we can’t help but agree!”