02 July 2017 Print Companies

Bell & Bain switches to Ricoh for inkjet printing of academic journals

Having tried a first generation inkjet colour press, Glasgow printer Bell & Bain is confident of better results through a Ricoh VC60000.

Bell & Bain will be the first UK book printer to commit to Ricoh’s VC60000 inkjet press. It will take the place of a Fujifilm 540W which at the time it was installed in the Glasgow factory was the first of its kind.

The VC60000 is a more established machine with users in transactional and direct mail printing and has been thoroughly tested, says Bell & Bain managing director Stephen Docherty. “We saw samples from all the presses available and the Ricoh was the most consistent by far.

“Most problems seem related to not being able to get the paper to dry fully when there is too much ink on the paper. There is always the risk of cockling when drying the paper. Suppliers can show good samples, but it doesn’t work in real life.

“The problems for a printer using inkjet is that the variable for digital are incredible, with the interplay of all the consumables that is possible.”

He has specified the press without the precoating treatment and instead will run the press with inkjet optimised paper. It is not the equivalent of litho printing, Docherty adds. “We have chosen the best of the bunch. And I like the people at Ricoh and their commitment to making it work. They are just as excited as I am.”

The Ricoh will be printing academic journals inline with a Horizon SmartBinder line that was installed last year by IFS. Covers for journals will in the main be printed litho, even with runs as low as 250 copies. The company is happy to run full books at this level standing by the quality argument.

Nor will Bell & Bain drop prices for the digital machine. “There is now way that we are going to be printing full colour for less than 0.75p a page. This is quality that is fit for purpose. We have agreed a pricing structure with Ricoh that does not include a clicks charge, and that means that I don’t have to achieve a certain volume of pages a month. And I don’t have to run it at 120m/min if I don’t want to.

“We can continue to give very high quality with litho printing and will stick with the traditional process.”

The high end journals intended for the press will combine short runs and high value thanks to the information they contain. But they are also in the same format making the inline process of print, fold, cut, stack, bind and trim straightforward.

The next press investment has been earmarked as another KBA litho press for the end of next year. Before that Bell & Bain will take delivery of a ribboning machine that Docherty bought at the auction of equipment from Wheatons for £5,000. “We have a few jobs that need ribboning each year. I have always wanted one of these but could not justify the cost,” he says.

While Bell & Bain is the first book printer to use the press, the VC60000 is being used in direct mail and transactional printers, Adare and MBA for example. Ricoh has put a lot of effort into creating a platform for book printing starting with its TotalFlow BatchBuilder software to group together jobs that require the same or similar set up. Clays is the first user for the book production version of this although it has not yet invested in a press from Ricoh.

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Bell & Bain directors

Bell & Bain directors

Tony Carpenter, sales; Stephen Doherty, managing; Karen Baillie, production, at Downing Street as one of the best places to work in the UK. The company will take delivery of a Ricoh inkjet press next month. It will be the second digital web press the company had had and will run inline to a Horizon Smart Binder.

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