Solopress has blasted into the world of B1 printing! Our recent £5m investment and 10,000 sq ft expansion means we can now print onto massive, 1 metre long B1 sheets. The result? Greater speed, less waste, impeccable print quality and increased overall production capacity.
But what does all this mean for you, the customer? We’re here to let you know how bigger sheets flying off our new press will benefit all of our customers, regardless of the size of their print.
What is B1 printing?
Just like A4, B1 is a standard paper size, except it’s much bigger! B1 sheets arrive from our supplier measuring 1020x720mm, so each sheet is over a metre long. You can find out more about international standards for paper sizes in our Support Guide on document sizes.
Solopress has previously been known for B2 printing. At 520x720mm, B2 sheets are roughly half the length of B1. We achieve B2 printing on three of our state-of-the-art HP Indigo digital inkjet presses as well as using our three Heidelberg litho machines.
However, with the purchase of a Heidelberg Speedmaster XL106 10P press in October last year, we’ve now made the giant leap into B1 printing.
The primary motivation behind the move was the need to increase production capacity in order to meet rising demand.
Alongside our traditional offering, we launched Solopro in 2019 in order to better cater for trade customers and print resellers. The success of this project led to a rise in larger orders and longer print runs. As a result, in the months preceding the pandemic we found that we were approaching the limits of our production capacity.
The pause in demand imposed by the pandemic gave us the chance to review our plant list. We made a number of acquisitions that have increased the sizeand scope of our manufacturing capabilities in terms of digital print and finishing, including our HP PageWide T250 press and our Motioncutter 23 System.
An area that we felt still harboured great potential was litho print. We didn’t hold back, sizing up to B1 with a new 10,000 sq ft factory space and the 23 metre-long, ten-colour Heidelberg press.
Bigger in the sheets, cheaper on the streets
At a time when the energy prices and the cost of paper are at an all time high, we’re under unprecedented pressure to absorb these costs so that we can carry on offering such competitive pricing.
During litho print runs, multiple pages are ganged up on each sheet and printed together. The greater size of the B1 paper stock allows for greater flexibility when it comes to arranging the placement of pages. That reduces waste, and the resulting material efficiency helps us to maintain low prices in a challenging market.
Full speed ahead
Our new B1 press is super fast in three crucial ways:
- Faster production: up to 18,000 sheets printed per hour..
- Increased sheet size means double the material is produced per sheet.
- Faster turnaround times between jobs.
This third element is an important one. Traditionally, this is an area where litho would lose out to digital print. After all, a digital inkjet printer only requires a new set of data to switch from job A to job B. A litho machine, on the other hand, requires new print plates for every colour unit, as well as other cleaning and resetting tasks that need to be performed between jobs.
Ready to roll
However, makeready times for our new B1 set up are impressively quick, thanks to an array of features and equipment that speed up the process. We have three new Magnus 800 platesetters from Kodak that can create up to 62 plates per hour. What’s more, the press itself features Autoplate XL 3 that can change the complete set of plates in under a minute!
We also have the ability to coat jobs emerging from the new press, allowing us to process them promptly without smudging the freshy applied ink. That’s essential when you’re looking to deliver jobs on a next day turnaround.
Crossing the finish line
All of that material still needs to be trimmed, folded, stitched and bundled in accordance with the job specs. For that reason, we’ve invested in equipment to serve these requirements and prevent a bottleneck at the finishing stage.
The new machines that we have added to our plant list include a StitchLiner MkIII, a HT300 three-knife trimmer, two Polar 137 guillotines, two Horizon iCE folders and two Pitstop high-speed creasers.
So why does B1 printing matter to our customers?
- High-speed print allows us to offer fast turnarounds.
- Greater production capacity lets us stay responsive to demand.
- Increased efficiency allows us to keep on offering amazing low prices.
In all, we think that’s £5m well spent!