PhotoBox, Europe’s leading B2C personalised photo based printing company, has invested in five new-generation Epson SureColor SC-S60600 64-inch wide-format printers. The company has installed these alongside its existing fleet of 16 SureColor SC-S50600 printers in its UK factory to meet the ongoing growing demand for personalised photo canvases. 24/7 production of thousands of canvas prints daily demonstrates the ability of these new ink-efficient printers to deliver higher quality, speed and uptime – and all at a lower cost per print.
Launched in 2000, today the PhotoBox Group encompasses seven brands – PhotoBox, Moonpig, Hofmann, PaperShaker, Sticky9, posterjack and PosterXXL – and employs about 1,000 people worldwide. Its five factories around the world turn digital photos into over 600 different personalised products – including photo canvases – for 30 million members across 20 countries. PhotoBox isputs its considerable success down to inspiration supported by the right combination of product, service, marketing and innovative technology.
James Lawrence-Jones, Group Technical Innovation Director at PhotoBox, is responsible for product and production processes. “Since 2013 demand for photo canvases has grown by 70% year on year and we have expanded our production facilities to keep pace and deliver the very best quality and service to our customers,” says James. “We wanted an ink-efficient printer that would deliver great quality at higher speeds and with maximum reliability and the new SC-S60600 ticks all the boxes. Our manufacturing challenges are unusual because we have to print, finish and despatch a large number of canvases in a day, over 12,000 individual canvases a day 24/7 at Christmas for example, and we have to rely on the very best production equipment to meet our high quality standards and tight deadlines.”
The new, robust SureColor SC-S60600 roll-to-roll printer has been designed to meet the needs of demanding production environments where maximum quality and reliability are key. It uses Epson PrecisionCore permanent printheads in a dual CMYK configuration to deliver outstanding 1440 x 1440 dpi resolution and speeds up to 95.3sqm/hr (single pass) and 52.3sqm/hr (typical banner applications). The sophisticated media feeding system incorporates highly-advanced auto-tension control and wide-diameter pressure rollers to optimise grip and feed accuracy. As a result, operators can load a 45kg roll of media and leave it to print unattended with the confidence that the end result will be perfect.
Very quickly after installation of the new printers, James and his production team were experiencing the benefits. “The SC-S60600 delivers improved print quality at reduced pass rates and offers improved ink efficiency which, when combined with the almost 20% boost in print speeds, results in lower overall production costs,” he says. “The new automated maintenance feature is another benefit,” says James. “It maximise printer uptime and frees up our operators to focus on other tasks to keep the print room running at peak efficiency. Plus, the new improved media loading means set up is easier, faster and very accurate – which allows for long run, unattended printing with the confidence that quality will be consistent across all the images.”
Canvas printing at PhotoBox is a highly streamlined operation. Customers have a choice of three canvas grades,17 different sizes up to 30 x 40 inch, and rectangular, square and panoramic formats. Images received online on any of the 18 localised websites are automatically nested prior to printing in full-roll batches on a SureColor printer. The rolls are then loaded onto a Esko Kongsberg cutting table, automatically cut to size and finished. The complete process – from order receipt to despatch – typically takes less than 24 hours!
Training & support
“The SureColor printers are excellent and we work them hard around the clock producing stunning images for our customers. It’s a high stress environment and we need maximum production uptime so when we need it we have great support from Epson and Rockwell, Epson’s appointed service provider,” says James.
Several staff members have also attended the Epson SureColor Academy to ensure they get the best from their printers. “Quality is key for production whatever the time of year so we train our production staff all year round to ensure we’re ‘match fit’ ahead of peak. Our operators have gained a better understanding and expertise in getting the very best results from the SureColors,” says James.
“We have developed the new SureColor SC-S60600 printer to meet the quality, productivity, reliability and efficiency needs of demanding, high-volume customers, such as PhotoBox, and their experience confirms that this new model truly is a superb professional production printer,” says Richard Barrow, Senior Product Manager, Epson Europe.
About the PhotoBox Group
PhotoBox takes customer’s photographs and prints them onto books, framed prints and canvases from small to large (just to name a few). Operating in 19 countries across Europe and with more than 30 million members, PhotoBox is Europe’s leading B2C personalised printing business.