STI Group Invests in High Performance Digital Printing Technology

2016-02-02 –

Digital printing has become the essential technology for forward-facing industries. It provides the ultimate in customisation – right down to a batch size of 1 – bringing true flexibility to large scale production.

STI Group installed its first digital printing machine way back in 2003, being an early adopter of this cutting-edge technology to supplement its offset and flexographic printing capabilities. Going forward, full colour prototypes and small production runs of displays and decorations will be produced on two state of the art digital machines.

In 2014 the Inca Onset from Fujicolor, a high-performance large-format digital printing machine capable of handling 3.20 x 1.60 m sheet sizes, was installed in STI Group's Gillingham plant in Kent, England. Customers were so impressed with both its quality and its speed that digital campaigns have been delivered to locations as far away as Spain and Scandinavia.

This year, STI Group is upgrading its German display plant in Grebenhain, Hesse with an Inca Onset X2 from Fujicolor, creating a local competency centre for digital printing. With the same large format print area as its UK cousin, the new arrival can print up to 900 m2 of cardboard or corrugated board per hour.

"Speeds like this mean we no longer need to limit this new technology to small batches; it makes digital printing very attractive even for medium-sized production runs," says Uwe Zadow, STI Group's Grebenhain Plant Manager. "The market served by our customers – manufacturers of branded goods from all over Europe – has changed. Being able to drive sales by rapidly translating new ideas into creative promotional campaigns is critical to their success. While online campaigns can be created and changed up until the last minute, traditionally it has taken several weeks for the POS industry to implement a physical campaign. Until now, that is. Our evolving workflows and highly efficient finishing mean that our latest investment in digital will enable us to give our customers a real competitive advantage."

Representing an investment of over one million Euros, the new digital machine will be put into service as early as March 2016. Zadow points out that this is being accompanied by further investment in finishing. "A high-performance gluing machine that can glue individual display components quickly and efficiently was also put into service in our Grebenhain plant at the end of 2015."

"Both of these investments underscore our aim to be the market leader for displays in Europe", explains Zadow. "Customers will not only benefit from the quicker delivery and response times and the flexibility to produce smaller or customised runs that digital printing offers, they will also reap rewards from our increased competitiveness in larger production runs using the latest gluing technology." This combination is especially appealing for brand manufacturers with international operations, for whom harmonised retail concepts have been implemented on a massive scale over the last few months. "Being able to produce over 10,000 displays, with customised stockholding and artwork, for up to 15 different countries, requires a high level of expertise and investment in equipment. Our company is perfectly positioned to design and produce modular components in large quantities, ready for fast, on-demand customisation using digital print."

STI Group plans to invest around 100 million euros in its facilities by 2020. "This investment will not just be in new machines and technologies, but also in more efficient processes,” adds Zadow. “We want to create ‘intelligent’ factories with versatility, resource efficiency and seamless integration of customers and business partners in our value-added processes. This will be critical for driving long-term success."