Grapo Technologies and Orafol Partner to Bring New Capabilities to Traffic Sign Manufacturing

Brno / Olomouc, Czech Republic, March 23 2010 – Grapo Technologies, a manufacturer of UV large format roll-to-roll and flatbed UV printers based in the Czech Republic, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Orafol Europe GmbH, a leading manufacturer of self-adhesive graphic products, special tape systems and reflective materials. Both companies agreed to develop an application package that uses Grapo’s Octopus UV digital printers and specially developed inks to digitally produce reflective traffic signs using Orafol`s microprismatic reflective film systems, replacing screen printing technology for many sign applications.

“We are very pleased have been selected by Orafol, a well-known and respected brand in the market, for this unique application” said Radim Kralik, CEO of Grapo Technologies. “Through this partnership, Orafol and Grapo will be able to sell this unique system. It is a rewarding experience for Grapo that Orafol’s due diligence efforts resulted in the approval of our technology for this highly critical application.”

Traffic signs are a very specific application with critical specifications and cannot be produced digitally using normal CMYK inks. In partnership with Orafol, Grapo Technologies has modified its Octopus UV printing system to the ORALITE ® UV traffic sign printer, developing special inks to address the seven-color requirement for traffic signs. “For printing on the Orafol`s microprismatic reflective material,” added Kralik, “each color must have perfect physical specifications to ensure proper reflection. The seven flat color inks we developed are able to be printed directly from one head on the ORALITE ® UV traffic sign printer, replacing traditional screen printing processes which are costly, time consuming and carry a heavier environmental footprint. In addition, screen printing is not a cost-effective process for shorter runs.”

Grapo Octopus

Migrating Traffic Signs from Analog to Digital Manufacturing

With this new system, traffic sign manufacturers will be able to cost-effectively handle short runs and print signs on demand to meet market needs, especially for signs with variable information, directions and other information that may only require a quantity of one or two.

Kralik points out that although Grapo can sell the system under the agreement, Orafol will be the primary coordinator of sales activities. “There are legal and testing procedures required to gain acceptance from each ministry of traffic,” he explains. “Colors must be certified, but more importantly, the entire system must be certified. Orafol will be leading the certification process based on their relationships, reputation and experience in this market.” Not only must colors be specific in order to pass certification, but inks also must demonstrate good adhesion to the reflective materials and last a long time under varying light and weather conditions. The new traffic sign manufacturing system consists of three components: the ORALITE ® UV traffic sign printer developed by Grapo, custom inks developed by Orafol, and microprismatic reflective material provided by Orafol.

“Because of this easy and reliable technology we expect to see good market reception to this breakthrough solution.” said Dr. Loclair, Managing Director of Orafol. “We are excited to be able to show samples of printed reflective material using this system at Intertraffic Amsterdam 23-25 March 2010 .” Orafol can be found in Hall 1, Booth 203 at the show.

Agile Development Ensures Fast Production of Niche Products

“This is only one niche market we have been investigating,” said Kralik, “and we are extremely pleased that our nimble and flexible R&D organization was able to respond quickly to the needs of this market as presented to us by Orafol. This is only one example of how our R&D efforts can benefit not only niche markets but the market as a whole in an environment where new applications arise frequently and requirements for existing applications can change quickly.”

About Orafol

ORAFOL Europe GmbH is a leading manufacturer of self-adhesive graphic products, special tape systems and reflective materials. The company strongly invested in the expansion of its core business during the last few years. It is currently represented in over 90 countries. The site in Oranienburg near Berlin employs more than 500 people. ORAFOL Europe GmbH is certified according to EN ISO 9001 and EN ISO 14001. A subsidiary, ORACAL USA Inc., was established in the United States.

About Grapo Technologies

Czech Republic-based Grapo Technologies is the only wide-format printer manufacturer with origins as a print shop. Grapo’s founder, Radim Králik, manufactured his first UV-curable wide-format printer for his own print shop in 2003. When he launched it commercially in 2004, Grapo Technologies was born.

Today, the company manufactures mid-market wide-format printers that use UV-curable inks. By drawing on its experience as a print shop operator and using smarter engineering, Grapo Technologies ensures that its systems are the most efficient and cost effective on the market. Grapo Technologies‘ printers deliver optimal performance and are easy to use and maintain, keeping training and operating costs to a minimum. All Grapo Technologies systems are put through a rigourous testing process in Grapo’s own print shop environment prior to customer shipment.

Grapo Technologies printers are manufactured in Europe and are used to produce billboard displays, building wraps, point-of-purchase (POP) displays and more. Grapo Technologies currently offers three models – Manta, Octopus and Shark – which are sold throughout Europe and the rest of the world through a network of distributors.

ISBA Germany installs Manta Printer from Grapo Technologies

ISBA Germany installs Manta Printer from Grapo Technologies.

ISBA Germany installs Manta Printer from Grapo Technologies

Grapo Technologies, a manufacturer of UV large format roll-to-roll and flatbed UV printers based in the Czech Republic, today announced that ISBA and its parent company, German charity organization Lebenshilfe e.V., have acquired a Grapo Technologies Manta UV flatbed wide format printer to better meet emerging customer demands, especially with respect to tighter timeframes for delivery of printed display graphics. Lebenshilfe e.V. helps psychiatric patients to build confidence as they re-enter society. The system was sold and installed by Grapo Technologies’ distribution partner, Igepa Group GmbH & Co.

“After careful consideration of a wide range of available UV printing solutions,” said Production Manager Ranier Laske of ISBA, “we found the Manta from Grapo Technologies to be the most viable option. We needed to produce graphics larger than A3, and we also wanted to be able to print on unique substrates and in unusual formats with the fastest turnaround time possible. Manta met all of those needs and more. The Manta offers us unlimited application possibilities for printing on rigid or flexible substrates.”

Laske also points out that the environmental considerations of UV printing were important in the decision process, adding, “With solvent inks, more than 95% is emitted into the air during the printing process.  This is not a healthy situation for our employees. With UV-curable inks there are no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted into the atmosphere. In addition to their environmental benefits, printing with UV-curable inks consumes less ink and offers significant advantages when printing on uncoated stocks.  We also love the ‘pause’ feature on the Manta, which allows us to stop printing if a problem is observed and restart at the same spot where the problem occurred. This saves us a significant amount of media, which can be quite expensive.”

ISBA’s Mission

Since 1993, ISBA has focused on creating a healthy working environment for psychiatric patients.  As a protected workspace, ISBA employs 140 people and offers them the opportunity, following their stay in the clinic, to enjoy  a positive work experience. A structured daily routine established in eight different work groups allows psychiatric patients to regain simple values they have lost during a critical phase in their lives and grow their self-esteem. Of the total work force, 20 are occupied with digital wide and small format printing.  ISBA draws its printing clients from a number of industries, including electricity suppliers, metal processing and the fashion industry.

Robustness and Flexibility Differentiate the Manta

ISBA opted for the four-color version of the Manta but has the opportunity to add white ink should they have an increased demand for this application. “In particular, we liked the robustness of the machine, its flexible application possibilities and its ease of use,” commented Laske. “Especially for the people we employ, it is of extreme importance that they can easily operate the Manta. After a very short training period, our people were able to operate the system.  Thanks to the robustness of the machine, we have very little downtime. Any small interruptions can be easily fixed by our team.”

Creativity Without Limits

With its previous configuration, ISBA could only handle job orders in smaller formats, but the Manta has changed that. “With the Manta, the sky is virtually the limit in terms of formats and materials to print on,” says Laske. “That is important for us, since we have experienced growth in demand for large format applications.” Typical jobs printed by ISBA on the Manta vary from exhibition stand layouts, to dividers, car wraps, sticker prints, floor prints, displays, textile printing and even printing on doors.  As a promotion for its cafeteria, ISBA developed personalized jute bags.  “We do a lot of personalized printing on demand,” concluded Laske. “Many companies are talking about personalization, but we have been doing it for years. The Manta adds more flexibility and capability to our personalization and other projects.”

Manta Product Details

Grapo Technologies Svang inks ensure optimal adhesion to print media without the need for pre-coating.  The white ink option enables printing on dark backgrounds.  Maximum printing size is 2 x 3 meters at 720 dpi, with small, precise controlled drop sizes and precise dot placement, enabling excellent reproduction of skin tones or pastel-colored surfaces without color cuts or sharp transitions.

The Manta has a production speed of 110 square meters per hour and comes with many time- and cost-saving features.  For example, Grapo Technologies’ unique Twin Mode System, allows users to print on one half of the machine while preparing a second job on the other. This innovative feature stems directly from Grapo’s early years as a print shop, when it learned the importance of maximizing available space, reducing man hours and increasing operating efficiency.  The Twin Mode System uses two independent desk areas. While printing on one area, operators can place material for printing on the other side without disrupting the ongoing printing process. The ability to switch between print desks when using rigid materials ensures that jobs can flow with no interruption between them and with no valuable production time lost.

UV-curable inks also provide the option to pause printing in case of errors or other occurrences. Users can halt the printer midway through a job, and then restart exactly where they left off once the problem has been corrected, reducing the amount of media waste.

Xaar continues to demonstrate its leadership in digital inkjet at Labelexpo Europe 2009

Xaar, as the leader in digital inkjet technology, had a huge impact at last year’s Labelexpo and this year, the impact looks to be even bigger.

Over ten OEM’s will be supporting Xaar’s ‘Think Digital, Think Inkjet, Think Xaar!’ theme by demonstrating Xaar-enabled printers that clearly show the power and flexibility of inkjet and its impact in digital print. These include Atlantic Zeiser, Delta Industrial Services, Durst, EFI and FFEI/Nilpeter:

•    Atlantic Zeiser (Hall 11 Q75) will be introducing the Gamma 70 full-colour inkjet printing module to the European label market. The printer opens up new possibilities for single-pass direct printing onto paper, film, metal and many other materials, producing photo-realistic production printing for labels, promotional items, ID cards and packaging

•    The Delta Industrial Services (Hall 7 Stand N20) MOD-TECH® EDGE™ Laser Converting Machine with digital printing capability gives converters a flexible manufacturing solution for complex geometries, precision products and quick-changeover, coupled with high-quality flexo, screen or digital printing – all in the same machine. The machine will be equipped for 4-color digital printing on an 11 inch web

•    The Durst (Hall 9 H75) TAU 150 UV inkjet printer reaches an industry leading throughput speed of close to 50m/minute, resulting in substantially improved return on investment for the label printer. The press prints on a variety of substrates and delivers repeatable image quality from the first to the last label and from run to run at the push of a button

•    EFI (Hall 9 H50), one of the leaders in digital printing solutions, will have its largest booth ever and will show three Jetrion 4000 Series UV Inkjet Systems, various finishing options and the EFI digital workflow. The Jetrion 4000 series is the perfect fit for secondary label, industrial label or flexible packaging markets and can be used for many primary label applications. EFI will have some exciting new announcements at the show

•    The FFEI/Nilpeter (Hall 7 L60 & L90) CASLON modular digital printer for labels and narrow web packaging printing, prints up to 50m/minute and combines high-quality digital printing with conventional printing and converting.

All the above machines use the industrial strength Xaar 1001 variable drop (greyscale) printhead. It is revolutionary in its design and ensures high reliability and productivity through its XaarDOT™ (Xaar Drop Optimisation Technology) capability and its TF Technology™ design. XaarDOT™ gives users the ability to select drop size or resolution depending on the application, image quality and substrate.

‘The increased number of Xaar-based inkjet printers showing at this years’ Labelexpo is a strong signal that inkjet can be both complementary and competitive to the existing technologies’, comments Phil Eaves, Sales and Marketing Director, Xaar. ‘The variety of applications running on different media demonstrates the flexibility of Xaar inkjet’.

Visit Xaar at the show in Hall 9, Stand F102. To find out more about Labelexpo Europe 2009 please visit http://www.labelexpo-europe.com

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About Xaar
Xaar is the world’s leading supplier of industrial inkjet printheads, inks and peripheral equipment to commercial printing and industrial manufacturing markets. Xaar’s innovative technology offers OEM customers and licensees commercial advantage through product differentiation, productivity, and faster time-to-market. Additional information about Xaar is available at http://www.xaar.com

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