The new range of VersaUV LEC2 printer/cutters was launched in January 2021, but The Vinyl Guys’ Alex Liggett was fortunate enough to get his hands on an LEC2-640 back in September 2020.
We’ve followed him on his journey, and we knew he’d have the enthusiasm to put our new device through its paces.
“We put as much work as we could through it to see how it would perform, so it’s pretty much not stopped every day.”
UV: A specialist technology?
Like many sign and graphics specialists, Alex didn’t believe that roll-to-roll UV printing was relevant to his business.
“I think people see it as something specialist – not something day-to-day.” He says, “Until I got the chance to get hands-on with it, I probably wouldn’t have let myself even consider it. After a week or so, I said to myself ‘I’ve got to have one of these machines!”
From our conversations with print professionals, we’ve noticed that many worry about the steep learning curve that can come with new technology. We asked Alex how he got to grips with the LEC2-640.
“It only took 20 minutes to learn the new features. We go between the TrueVIS machines and the UV without any issue at all – the artwork setup is the same.”
Gloss Effects: Getting Noticed on Social Media
One of the most notable features of UV printing is the ability to print clear ink and create outstanding gloss effects. For Alex, this was a key benefit for connecting with his followers on social media and generating new business.
“It’s something that customers notice.” He says, “By doing something different and putting it on Instagram, we've gained new customers that previously might have passed us by.
“It’s not really about selling loads of matt gloss stickers – it’s about getting out there, doing something different and capturing the interest of new customers. Once they’ve bought a set of matt gloss stickers, they come back for signage and vehicle graphics.”
Noticeable Quality: A Competitive Advantage
In developing the VersaUV LEC2 range, we wanted to set a new standard for quality in UV print technology, something that Alex noted immediately.
“The print quality is just superb.” He says, “If we need to print lots of detail or small text, we just go straight to the UV.”
Using the LEC2-640 for stickers and service labels, Alex has managed to print text only 1 mm in height with no loss in clarity. The ability to print this fine detail has differentiated The Vinyl Guys from its competitors.
“Compared to stickers they’ve had from elsewhere, our customers notice the finish, the solidity of the colours and the detail on a small scale.”
Ultimately, this technology has let Alex create a product that looks and feels like it commands a premium price.“When our customers peel off a UV sticker, it just feels better; it feels like more of a premium quality finish than the normal stickers do.”
Fast Workflow: Next-Day delivery
UV printing is different from methods like solvent or latex in that it is cured instantly with low-temperature UV light. This means that there is no drying or outgassing time and the output is ready to handle as soon as it comes off the machine. This has revolutionised the kind of service Alex can offer his customers.
“With solvent ink, the labels are touch-dry within a couple of hours, but if we’re doing heavy print with a lot of detail, or solid colours, we like to give them a few hours to dry before packing them together in an envelope.
“From a workflow point of view, we’re saving around 3-4 hours in outgassing time and that’s making a huge different to us. We can now ship on the same day for next day delivery which isn’t always possible with solvent printing.”
Aside from stickers and labels, Alex has been trialling this new technology in several other applications including signage, banners and short-term vehicle graphics, fixed to vans with magnetic panels. He has also tested UV for interior décor – a growing segment in print.
“We’ve put wallpaper through it to print the graphics in our new reception area and we’ve also done some boardroom landscapes for one of our customers.”
Alex’s taste for experimentation has also led him to products he might not have previously considered, like packaging.
“One of our customers is a local artisan coffee business. We started using the UV to do their labels and they noticed the fine text details straight away. I’d like to talk to them about how we could use our LEC2 to help improve their packaging.”
Big Opportunities with Braille
Despite months of constant usage, Alex feels the LEC2-640 still has much more to offer.
“I still don’t think that we’ve had the chance to stretch it to its full potential. For example, I think there would be a very big market out there for Braille printing.”
Alex told us of some recent outsourcing work he did with another graphics company responsible for branding train carriages nationally. Due to accessibility requirements, they needed to include Braille in several of the internal graphics.
“The machine was printing Braille for 23 hours solid, and it didn’t miss a beat. It was fantastic - and that was the moment I thought ‘yeah – I’m happy to have one of these!”
With the ease and speed of printing Braille using UV gloss ink, Alex sees a massive opportunity for graphics companies
“A lot of companies either have the Braille stamped – which is quite expensive – or they don’t know where to get it from, even though it’s a service they should probably be offering.”
Results: Creating a New Niche
When Alex agreed to test the new LEC2-640, the last thing he expected was to make another investment for The Vinyl Guys.
“We’ve just moved to a new premise and bought some new tools including a big application table, so my plan for 2021 was to try not to spend too much money.” Says Alex, “But now, I’m happy to be the first person in the UK to buy an LEC2-640. My order was in as soon as it was officially launched!”
Thanks to the analytics tools available with VersaWorks, Alex was able to precisely quantify the impact the device had on his business.
“We’ve had the machine since September and it’s already made a huge difference to our turnover – and the numbers prove it. We’ve developed a whole product line with the ability to do small-scale work and now the device is absolutely essential.”
Alex’s experience with the LEC2-640 has turned him from a UV sceptic to a fully converted devotee. He now wants to spread the word and show other print professionals that it’s not just a specialist technology, but something with the potential to reinvigorate their businesses.
For Alex, the LEC2 didn’t just create a valuable new income stream, it breathed new life into The Vinyl Guys.
“It’s made us think more outside the box. It’s injected a little bit more creativity. It’s made us think a little bit more about what we can do.”
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