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Northern Flags installs its sixth Agfa printer

Northern Flags installs its sixth Agfa printer
Four years after moving into its Leeds facility, Northern Flags, part of the FaberExposize Group, has taken delivery of its largest Agfa print machine to date, the Jeti Tauro H3300 HS LED inkjet engine.

The business has grown exponentially over the past four years, and now has the capacity to print over 24,000 sq.m of material per day, compared to around 4000 sq.m in 2018, and whilst flag production is still growing, it has reduced from representing over 70 percent of the company’s business to becoming a much smaller contributor than board and UV printed materials. In order to facilitate further growth, Northern Flags is currently in the midst of expanding into the neighbouring building and both units have also had recent mezzanine extensions.

The new printer is Northern Flag’s sixth purchase from Agfa since it moved into its current premises. It initially purchased an Avinci DX3200 dye-sublimation printer, along with an Anapurna 3.2m Hybrid wide format inkjet press and six months later, it installed its second Anapurna and Avinci machines, a move that was followed in late 2021, with the purchase of the latest Agfa Avinci printers. Its newest acquisition, the Jeti Tauro H3300 HS LED printer, was installed just four weeks ago, and all the machines are driven by the Agfa Asanti workflow solution.

According to Iain Clasper-Cotte, UK Managing Director for Northern Flags and FaberExposize, the Tauro investment was the result of diversification undertaken at the start of the Covid pandemic. In common with most print companies, the business had to flex to survive and with little demand for fabric printing at that time, it focused instead on servicing those clients that had previously bought print from abroad, where Brexit and Covid, had caused severe disruption to supply chains, and on producing construction signage and Covid safety print, where the demand was huge. The result has been significant growth leading to a 35 percent increase in the workforce, when compared to pre-Covid times. Furthermore, as its new customers appreciated the support extended by Northern Flags, few have gone back to their original suppliers. There is no doubt that the business is now known for offering many different types of printing services, which allows it to offer a cross-section of different products and, as flags are more of a commodity purchase, this diversification has resulted in better profit margins too.

When quizzed about the relationship the business has enjoyed with Agfa, Iain (who is pictured right above with Agfa’s Paul Fitch) said: “We always look at other print suppliers when we invest in new machinery, to ensure that we get the best value. But we just didn’t get the same service vibe from other suppliers and, when we spoke to other Tauro customers, they all professed to be really pleased with the results they achieved with the Agfa engine. “The relationship with Agfa has not been without issues, but we’ve been really impressed by the speed and professionalism that Agfa has shown when resolving problems and that has further cemented our partnership with it over the years.”

The Agfa Jeti Tauro H3300 LED is a highly productive UV LED wide-format inkjet printer range for use with both rigid and flexible media. The hybrid printer combines award-winning print quality with extreme productivity, cutting-edge automation and low ink consumption. It produces detailed prints up to 3.3m wide at up to 600 square metres per hour thanks to the rapid UV LED curing of Agfa’s high-pigmented UV inks and the “Thin Ink Layer Technology” offers both economic and ecological benefits to the user too.

Ecological benefits are, according to Iain, one of the most important topical issues currently facing the printing industry. He said: “Whilst few customers enquired about environmentally friendly credentials four years ago, today it’s very different. It’s certainly not 100 percent take-up, as price still plays its part and budgets are stretched in certain areas, but there is an expectation that we can provide environmentally friendly products.”

Northern Flags have been marketing its EnviroFlag solution for some time and around 30 percent of its sales now involve this material, which is made from plastic bottles. In addition, it also offers wallpaper that is made from the same waste matter too. As well as requesting recyclable materials, clients are also looking for environmentally friendly ways to dispose of the material after use, so it is certainly an issue that’s receiving a lot of attention. As the company was named the Sustainable Printer of the Year at the Digital Print Awards, Northern Flags has already made positive strides in this area, largely through its ‘Action Now’ initiative, but Iain feels the industry is still only in the headline phase and has some way to go.

He mused: “I think the move to greener production methods is the most topical subject in our market at present. Clients now want to know what the material is made from, but we will soon move to the next phase when they will want to know how the printed substrates are produced, which will put the focus on the use of printers that offer eco-credentials too, so it’s important for us to know that this is an area in which Agfa is constantly innovating. I’m delighted that there is a growing interest in saving the planet and it’s great to be on the journey with a supplier who also feels that it’s important too.”

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