Fujifilm leading the eco-friendly pursuit with Acuity printers

In an era where sustainability has become a buzz word in the signage and graphics industry, SM Ramprasad of Fujifilm India talks about the eco-friendly solutions offered by the Acuity wide-format printers

11 Jul 2019 | By PrintWeek India

Acuity is Fujifilm’s UV wide-format range of printers.

It comes in three variants — roll-to-roll for printing on substrates such as flex, vinyl, and fabrics; flatbed printers for printing on rigid substrates, and the hybrid printer which can function as a roll-to-roll as well as a flatbed printer.

The application segments of Acuity’s flatbed printers are in glass, acrylic, wallpaper, and metallic sheets, amongst others. Ramprasad says the Acuity flatbed is applicable to the signage as well the interior design industry. “You can even print a house door on our flatbed printer,” he says.

The Acuity flatbed printer facilitates printing on any rigid substrate up to 50-mm thickness.

Acuity Sales operations stepped up in India in 2014 with the Acuity Select. This model has now become Fujifilm’s most popular product under Acuity, on the basis of its print quality.

Ramprasad says, “The Acuity Select has been receiving good responses from the photographic segments, such as for wedding albums, especially for the certain speciality pages as well as for embossing effects.”

Later in 2015, Fujifilm launched the Acuity EY model which gained traction for its price competitiveness. “It has helped Fujifilm gain the maximum installations in the signage and graphics industry,” he says.

SM Ramprasad of Fujifilm

The latest launch under the Acuity range is the Acuity Ultra Series with maximum widths of 3.2-metres and 5-metres.

The demand for eco-friendly LED UV printers 

According to Ramprasad, there has been a change in the landscape of the signage industry with stringent rules coming up considering the environment, such as the ban on flex as well as with the restrictions on the use of solvents.

These actions have triggered many end-users to opt for more sustainable options, to be on the safer and greener side. “This is where Fujifilm’s Acuity UV printer plays a significant role. Customers have started demanding environment-friendly inks which are Green Guard-certified, such as our Acuity UV inks,” he says. “About four years back, there were only a few UV players around when we pioneered in these types of equipment, when we kick-started our dedicated demo centre and so at that time, hardly one or two per cent of customers were willing to put their bet on UV.”

Ramprasad gives the example of the Media Expo platform, where today almost every player has a UV offering. “Every customer is now looking at UV as one of the possibilities in the signage industry. It is still dominated by solvents and eco-solvents but UV has definitely created its own space,” he explains.

According to Ramprasad’ s estimates, currently, 15-20% of printing is happening on the UV space and this figure will rapidly change to approximately 50% within the next two years, and after that almost 60 to 70% of the printing will be done on UV platform.

He adds that along with the technology, the substrates will also become more environmental-friendly with many innovative substrates slowly coming into the picture. “So, the traditional substrates will slowly fade away. Even at this stage, it is quite evident that the change is happening as the fabric is occupying more of the backlit space. So, if you take only the backlit market, more than 50% of it is opting for fabrics as a choice,” he adds.

Spotlight on Acuity inks

All the Acuity printers offered by Fujifilm come with white ink that opens up a lot of possibilities for printing as it widens the range of applications.

Ramprasad explains, “White ink enables a three-layer printing application. In this, first, a CMYK is printed on a clear film over which the white is printed. On top of the white, again a CMYK colour of a different artwork is printed. On the same side of the substrate, you print three layers showcasing the front and the back of the clear film with different artworks with a sandwiched layer of white ink, acting as a base for the CMYK artworks.”

He adds, “For the signage and graphics industry, people use Acuity for rigid as well as flexible substrates. Another feature of Acuity is that it can print using thermoforming inks.”

Why thermoforming inks?

Using a thermoforming machine with the application of heat, the printed rigid substrate gets softened and takes the shape of the mould. Even if there is a 90-degree bend, the ink doesn’t break. So, in such a scenario, thermoforming inks, due to their special properties, have
the ability to expand 1000% more as compared to regular ink.

Service support

Fujifilm provides direct service support to customers, without depending on third-party service providers. “The company engineers directly handle issues related to the press whenever called upon,” Ramprasad says. “First and foremost, the products require the minimal intervention of external assistance, but wherever the intervention is required, the service engineers act swiftly to bring the machine back into the production.”

Fujifilm being a consumable-centric company Ramprasad says we are very clear in our approach that Equipment up-time is of at most importance for us and any printer or equipment we market should offer the best productivity and lower running cost to our customer.

In addition, along with the process of installation, Fujifilm trains the operators and provides a tele-support system for future assistance.

The printheads 

Fujifilm markets printers which come with different sets of print heads for different models from different OEMs. Ramprasad says, “We have a stand of being printhead neutral, where the printing application decides which printheads are used.”

In-house Fujifilm Dimatix, Toshiba, Ricoh, Kyocera are the different printheads used across different models of the Acuity range of printers. 

Ease of operation 

Ramprasad claims that the best part of any of these machines is the ease of operation.

In any of these machines including high-end high-speed machines, only one operator is sufficient to manage the entire operation. With additional options like auto loader even bigger rolls of media can be loaded into the machine with ease. 

Tamil Nadu’s first Acuity LED 3200R at Algebra Colours

Calicut-based Algebra Colours recently invested in the Fujifilm Acuity LED 3200R wide-format printer for its Coimbatore unit.

Sinu Francis of Algebra Colours said, “One of the key aspects for investing in Acuity 3200R was its excellent print quality on fabrics. Since we have a good experience of using Fujifilm printer at our Calicut facility, it was evident that will be investing in a Fujifilm printer to meet the demands from the Tamil Nadu market.”

Algebra Colours is a seven-year-old branding and event management company who are into signages, in-store, backlights, and interiors with a prominent client portfolio of Samsung, Pepsi, and LG, among others.

The Acuity LED 3200R has a maximum print width of 3.2m with the ability to print eight colours – CMYK, light cyan, light magenta, white and clear and uses low energy LED UV inkjet printing technology.  It runs at a speed of 110 sqm/ hour when the CMYK colour combination is used.

Fujifilm’s recent installations from the Acuity series:
1. AP India– New Delhi
2. GK Vale– Bengaluru
3. Shubadhra Sign– Mumbai

The way ahead

The future looks exciting what with Fujifilm holding the largest number of patents on UV inks, many possibilities can be there in the coming years.

 “Being one of the pioneers in UV ink technology, Fujifilm ticks all the boxes due to its approach as total solution, superior product performance and backed with quality service support,” Ramprasad says.

We are excited about our journey of more than 100+ installations of the Acuity printers in the last few years.

In 2018, Fujifilm has sold approximately 45 machines in the Acuity range. And this year, it plans to sell at least 60 units.

Ramprasad says, “We don’t just limit ourselves in the space of signage and graphics. We have expanded to the photo market and the interior decor, with further plans to focus on the industrial and packaging space.”

He believes that the corrugation market is going to be a major game-changer in India, as it enables a wide range of applications that include home furniture, retail merchandising, store racks, and packaging boxes, among others. “There are a number of possibilities with corrugated board printing. So that’s an area where we will explore in the coming years, as far as the focus of the next three-four years is concerned,” he concludes.