How Optima helped a British printer achieve extraordinary results

During Our Perfect Cut 2021, Valiani’s global event dedicated to its partners and resellers, we interviewed Mr. Jamie Marshall, director of Zone Graphics Ltd, printer based in Kent, UK.

In the interview, which we report in full, he talked about his company, how he chose a Valiani Optima and the extraordinary results he achieved with it.

Watch the video, or read his words below


Director of

Zone Graphics: history and business of the company

Jamie, can you tell a bit about your company and yourself and the products that you produce?

Yes, basically I’ve got a graphic background in the first place. I started in the trade when I was 16 years old, in Royal Tunbridge Wells (Kent, Uk). Here I did an apprenticeship, I worked for various printers and trade houses and so I gathered a lot of experience along the way with them. 

Our company started 28 years ago and we originally just got involved with final film and lifo plates and that sort of thing for the trades in general. As things moved on we’ve obviously got involved with image setters and plate setters and all of that and a lot of other stuff with reprom and pre-press along the way. Eventually we got involved with lifo printing itself and all other forms of printing until probably, what I’d say about 15 years ago we bought our first digital printer and things changed pretty much from that point on. 

We carried on for a couple of years and then basically, probably 5 years ago, we completely ditched life all together and moved on to digital printing and, probably more importantly, all the finishing aspects that go along with it.

So, what types of products do you produce now?

As digital printers we generally get involved, as you can imagine, with just about everything. We have pretty versatile printers, but we do a mixture of what we tend to try and get involved with, the sort of high-end work now. We’ve got an HP Indigo printer and a Ricoh, so we tend to produce like a higher quality job on the Indigo and we end up sort of foil blocking embossing, all of this sort of thing embellishing a lot of the products we print to try and get more value out of them. We do a lot of book printing, a raft of other bits and pieces along the way. Generally, however, everything related to the packaging industry we tend to do on Ricoh, such as flyers and much more.

How Zone Graphics Ltd met Valiani

And then you came across Valiani. Tell us how you sort of find out about the cutting tables from Valiani.

Well, I remember that we had already collected a lot of information over time when the dealer Morgana put us in contact with Valiani at a fair they had organized. Here was a Valiani machine.I’ve been interested for some time. It was really a question of cost and size. We haven’t got a lot of rooms here. So we didn’t want some massive thing which took up the whole area. It had to go on a mezzanine as well. So the Valiani with its sort of weight compared to others was fantastic and the actual cost of it was right. I think we bought the machine three months after the actual trade show.

Was that machine the Optima?

Jamie: Yes, the Optima V80 digital cutting system. That’s got a sort of a max sheet size of 1200 by 800, I believe. And the Optima we bought had two heads at the time, just a cutting head and a creasing head with perforation and that sort of thing.

How Valiani Optima helped printer Zone Graphics

What makes it useful for you? Is it the quality of the build? Is it the quality of the output? The cut? The creasing?

It’s obviously its versatility.  We have always done a lot of die-cutting, foiling and everything. We had the most versatile machine in the business but now the Valiani is pretty much taken over from that. I think you know obviously every job that comes in we look at it and we think about the run, but also how complex it is. Then we weigh up the length of time it’s going to take to cut it on the Valiani, if it turns out it works out well, we don’t even get a dime: we just do it on the Valiani.

So, time to market speed to market fast turnaround, which seems to be the mantra for every print company in the world today is one of the useful things.

Jamie: Yes, indeed. One of the most useful things about it is although it’s relatively easy to set the files up for it, we’ve got three minders on the presses, they are very used to handling files, they always set the files up. But after that point anyone in the company (there’s only ten of us anyway), but basically everyone can get on and actually use the machine once the files have been set up for us. 

So it does mean that, say for instance, the actual plotter is busy or the guy is on holiday and there is only one guy that operates our platinum: we can then just put those jobs over onto the Valiani, and sometimes we’ve got a job that literally can’t be done on the printer. Could be through size, could be through complexity of the die. Whatever the thickness of the material we can cut up to 20 millimeters thick, and obviously we can kiss-cut very very thin self-adhesive material with it as well.

Okay, so for labels or stickers and things?

We do a lot of labels and stickers. The first label job we got in after having the machine for about three months, was around 250.000 labels for a very prestigious retailer in London and it took us two weeks to do it, but it actually paid for over half of the machine in two weeks.

It’s a nice going. We hope you get a few more of those! Do you think the machine is particularly suited to the British market at the moment?

Jamie: It’s certainly suited to our market. I can’t speak for everyone but its versatility helps keep costs down and allows you to optimize shift management and fill the spaces between them. Someone’s got half an hour here whilst they’re waiting for another job to come by, they can always move over and use the Valiani which makes it fantastic as far as utilizing our staff and their time.

Jamie, that’s great, thank you so much indeed for your time.

Would you like to learn more about the machine that helped Zone Graphics achieve these results?

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