Print4UK, a multi-faceted print company based in Enfield have purchased and installed the UK’s first PFi Blade B2+ digital cutting table from Duplo. Purchased late last year, the machine arrived and was installed in March. It marks Duplo’s first step into the B2 arena with a device that builds upon the success of the B3 version launched last year.
Chris Brady, Managing Director said “We were initially looking at a B3 cutting table, but I’m hoping to move to B2 format and so re-evaluating that decisions lead me down the B2 cutting table path. We did look at the other models from both Intec and Vivid. We’ve never really gone for the cheapest option for our equipment requirements – I’ve always thought, you get what you pay for. We needed longevity for our digital die-cutting solution and plus Duplo have a reputation for looking after their customers. I’m not a fan of being the first customer in the UK with any particular machine, as was evident, issues did arise during the installation and operation of the Blade at the beginning. But Duplo was very quick to respond and tried to alleviate any difficulties we had. It was a learning curve for both Duplo and Print4UK since the Blade B2+ was new to both companies. One of the Blades key differentiators is how easy the software is to use. It has its own materials database which makes tool decisions simple and allows job set up to be much simpler and a lot quicker. My operators have been enjoying getting to know both the machine and its place in our workflow.”
“The PFi Blade B2+ is a completely new direction for Print4UK. We usually outsource our die-cutting work and even had to turn away business because we didn’t have an internal solution, and once turned away the customers wouldn’t necessarily come back and give us the work that we could have done. In the first two weeks of having the machine we saved £2000 in outsourced work, so the Blade B2+ will pay for itself in next to no time. Of course, some jobs won’t be appropriate for the Blade B2+ however I’m estimating almost 75%-85% of our outsourced work will now be done on it.”
“Our business model lends itself to personalisation and short runs. COVID-19 has meant that this work is now normal. However, there is much more margin to be had in this kind of work. We just needed to be nimbler in the marketplace, the pandemic helped us do this as we used the quieter times to develop strategies, rebrand and reposition ourselves to hit the ground running.”
Digital die-cutting has had a massive effect on the business, leading to big brands for promotional print jobs. It’s opened new doors, and we’ve been able to help some major brands with merchandising and promoted our own side of the print business.
In 2019 we launched Navy Blue London, our own Digital focused design agency, they helped diversify our offering, helping our current clients with additional design services and new intuitive ways to reach their current customers and attract new ones. Having a one-stop-shop for customers has led to some great and important wins that have a knock-on effect for future business.
At the helm of Navy Blue London is Lee Hedger, the Managing Director. He bought award-winning ideas to the table and has vast experience with some of the largest companies in the world.
We devised a strategy of merging Print4UK’s capabilities with turning it into an organisation that can help clients with both digital and/or print. Individually they support the other. Lee Hedger, continues from Chris, “At first we used Print4UK’s relationships with brands and clients over the years to develop the digital business but when lockdown happened and our commercial print work dropped away, both Navy Blue and Branded4UK stepped up with some really creative marketing for some amazingly high-profile clients. Print made up a vital part of these campaigns and we’ve used the PFi Blade B2+ to great advantage for some of these campaigns. Since we project manage each job and are involved from the ground up, we win almost 90% of our estimates, this meant that last year almost 90% of our work was from new business, and we’re hoping with a few strategic decisions that are coming up, we will be able to expand that and bring in our older customers. Get them back into the headspace of how print can work for them and their clients.”
Lee concludes “It’s just so refreshing as a creative agency type who has direct access to the print engines and the finishing to be able to collaborate with the operators, it gets the creativity flowing and gives me an excellent idea of what can or can’t be achieved, it also surprises the print side of the business since it’s a new way of looking at problems and solutions. Plus having the Blade B2+ is just perfect for prototyping ideas. It’s allowed us to be able to better prep customers and show them the campaigns easily and cost-effectively.”