Roland DG VersaUV LEF printer creates high quality personalized gadgets
Arktis, which is based in Rosendahl (Münsterland), is a major Apple Reseller in Germany. The company recently decided to purchase a VersaUV LEF printing system from Roland DG in order to expand its business opportunities. Rainer Wolf, Managing Director of Arktis GmbH since it was established in 1998, was very upbeat about the turnover generated from new products created by the printing system.
Arktis Apple Reseller goes ‘personalized’
Upon arrival, following a couple of hours drive through the magnificent Münsterland, Rainer Wolf offered me a black coffee and briefly explained the day to day operations of an Apple Reseller. Then I was thrown in at the deep end, when he described the unusual idea of not merely providing cell phones and/or tablets, but also personalising them.
We moved to a large, round table in the production room and were joined by Sandra and Bernd. They are part of the team involved in the design and printing of jobs acquired via the Arktis web shop specifically developed for this type of new products, which include mobile cases, tablet covers, etc.
Design is an important component of the process, because the images uploaded by customers via the web shop have to fit correctly on the case. Sandra explained: “For example, a photograph of a couple standing or sitting a little bit too far apart sometimes results in one of them ‘falling off the case’. Or when someone’s head is in the exact position of the camera lens, i.e. the small hole in the case. We need to ensure that the charger connection, camera lenses and volume controls remain accessible. Moreover, in order to define the ideal position for the picture on the case, we have to partly create our own designs, e.g. the German flag which was very popular during the World Cup last year, or a case containing a specific text or other popular picture.”
Rainer Wolf pointed out that approximately 70% of the designs consist of someone’s uploaded photograph, 30% is the creative idea of the design and print team.
Printing with the Roland DG VersaUV LEF
Bernd and Sandra are also involved in the printing process. They are particularly satisfied with the quality produced by the printer. “And quality is the main issue as far as the customer is concerned,” Bernd emphasized. “The print on the case also protects the device (e.g. mobile) from scratching or other damage and consequently has to be of a superior quality. Furthermore, the high quality UV colours don’t fade; on the contrary, they last a long time. The printed cases are both washable and scratch proof.”
He continued: “The ECO UV ink offers high density printing in a wide variety of colours. The ink dries instantly and its flexibility prevents it from breaking up when the material is bent or stretched. The LED lamps dry the ink droplets immediately after they land on the material, which means they are not absorbed and do not react with the media. And since no heat is used to dry the ink, printing on heat-sensitive materials is no problem. The LEF also has a UV protection cover and a screen to prevent dust from falling on the object during printing. The white ink can also be used as an opaque base coat, to bring out the other colours more sharply. The clear ink can create special matt, glossy and relief effects.”
How does it work?
“Of course we had to create an environment in which to download pictures via the web shop and then manage and process them to the printer. But I am pleased to say that we were already in profit after six months. Now, almost twelve months later, I am very happy that the idea and its implementation were a resounding success,” Rainer Wolf commented. “This year 50% of the products we supply to customers as a reseller originated from this machine.”
The web shop pop ups show an attractive young woman, printed on an iPhone 6, who demonstrates what your own, personalised image looks like on your mobile. Personalized cases are printed in real Premium quality; customers don’t need any technical know-how to get the images printed by Arktis. “Obviously we don’t just deal with Apple; our range also includes Samsung and other devices!”
Messages are targeted at both individual and corporate users, who might buy a series of printed cases for their staff at Christmas or for special occasions such as the opening of a new department. Arktis can also produce larger runs of the same cases on demand, e.g. for sports clubs, music bands or businesses.
The rest is simple. Pick a photo from your own computer or phone, upload it to the Arktis web shop, follow the instructions, enter your delivery address, follow the payment instructions and within a few days you will receive your case by post.
Although the materials being printed on nowadays are mostly polycarbonate and TPU cases and cover bags, the LEF can print on an infinite variety of materials, e.g. PET, ABS, polycarbonate, TPU, leather and textiles. In principle the VersaUV LEF can print text, photos, logos or other designs directly onto objects with a thickness of up to 10 cm. They include gadgets, gift items, prototypes, industrial components and electronic devices.
Obviously Arktis is keen to test the Roland DG VersaUV LEF printing system on other substrates. Rainer Wolf guardedly mentioned mirror glass as well as magnetic and textile substrates, but obviously this is ‘classified information’, a trade secret. “We get a lot of support from Roland DG. They are very much involved in the testing process and search for new possibilities and applications,” Rainer Wolf concluded.
Entry level and production models
The VersaUV LEF series is available in two models. The LEF-12 is an entry level model, available at a very attractive price. The LEF-20 is the production model, which is larger and faster than the LEF-12. The LEF-20 has a print area of 508 x 330 mm, which is twice the size of the entry level model. The new movable LED lamp also increases productivity. The print speeds for CMYK, white and clear inks are significantly higher. Presets for up to 20 materials or objects can be entered in the software, enabling you to quickly select the appropriate settings for favourite items.