Growing on-demand

John Harrison of Amaya, Jodie Aldred, Brendan Mangan of Kornit, Julian Wright of Amaya, Alex Cunliffe and Amy Dunn

News of the launch of Kornit’s new HD printing technology landed in January and now on-demand print specialist Inkthreadable has installed the first Avalanche Hexa HD6 in Europe.

This installation follows close on the heels of Blackburn-based Inkthreadable’s purchase of a Kornit Storm Hexa in August last year. Now the company has secured one the of the first Avalanche Hexa HD6 machines produced by Kornit.

Both machines were supplied by Amaya Sales UK. The Storm Hexa was Amaya’s first sale made after it took on the Kornit agency in May last year and the sale of the Avalanche Hexa HD6 marks another milestone for the company.

Installed in February this year, the Avalanche Hexa HD6 has the same six colour channels (CMYK plus red and green) as the Storm Hexa but on average can print almost twice as fast.

According to Alex Cunliffe, managing director of Inkthreadable, the Avalanche Hexa HD6 has brought massive change to the company.

He says: “We invested in the Kornit Storm Hexa to keep up with high demand for our services, but the demand kept on growing. The Avalanche Hexa HD6’s production capacity has given us even more room to grow in our market. We’ve since retired our complement of 10 Texjet printers.

“The combined production capacity of our two Kornit machines means we can keep offering high quality on-demand printing at low costs amid supplier price increases.”

Quick and painless

Alex explains that despite its size, the installation process was quick and painless. Kornit engineers and application specialists were on site and available throughout the whole process. Once installed they trained Inkthreadable staff on how to work the machine, and then remained on-site for a while to make sure everything ran smoothly.

The Avalanche Hexa HD6’s dual print heads

Alex adds: “Amaya has provided us with outstanding support every step of the way. We’re very grateful to have a supplier that works with us to help us grow.”

Kornit machines use eco-friendly inks, something integral to the ethos at Inkthreadable. Following on from the bespoke order management software developed last year, the print on-demand company has implemented social responsibility initiatives.

First came a new policy to donate clothing that had failed quality checks to a homeless charity based in the North West of England, followed by a push to swap out all packaging to eco-friendly alternatives.

Alex says: “Donating failed clothing to the homeless is something we’ve wanted to do for a while, but it’s difficult to reconcile something like that when we’re donating our customer’s designs, not our own. In the end we took the plunge, told our customers what we were doing and hoped they would be on board. And they were!”

Amy Dunn, Inkthreadable’s co-founder, adds: “Eco-friendly packaging is a no-brainer. The printing industry contributes profusely to global pollution and we want to minimise our impact. Plus, a growing segment of our customers are building eco-friendly brands and packaging is a big part of their image.”

Back to the beginning

Inkthreadable as a concept started when Alex and Amy were in high school back in 2010. They sold printed and embroidered products on eBay and to their classmates to earn a little extra money.

This followed them to college, but they realised there was a high demand for their products, especially for customers looking for an on-demand printing partner, and decided to leave full time education to build a business.

Amy said: “Alex’s parents bought an embroidery machine that was older than us to embroider mattresses for their baby mattress business. It ran on floppy disk, and we had to buy an adaptor to transfer files to the machine because we didn’t have a computer that read floppy disks!

Bright, sharp prints can be created

“We then got a A4 sublimation printer and started to print tops and gifts for people at school. When we started to sell a lot on eBay we bought a DTG printer, but along the way we picked up a few customers that required a print-on-demand solution and it worked perfectly alongside our own eBay sales. Eventually we took up B2B full-time.”

During the last five years Inkthreadable has had to move five years due to issues with space. The company’s latest moved happened in July last year when the team moved into an 8,000sq ft unit, which is around four times bigger than the last premises. The unit now gives Inkthreadable plenty of room to grow and it is hoped that the company will stay put for another five years, though only time will tell.

Inkthreadable now has 10 staff printing over 180 products for 4,000 active merchants. The majority of these products are clothing printed solely using the two Kornit machines, capable of decorating over 1,000 T shirts per shift.

Both the Storm Hexa and Avalanche Hexa HD6 can run back-to-back shifts with no break in production, meaning they can handle the pressure during periods of peak trade. In fact, the longer the machines run the more economical they are.

Alex explains: “The Kornit machines periodically run maintenance routines which consumes ink. When they’re printing they don’t need to run these routines as often, so the longer they run the cheaper each product is to print.”

The Kornit Avalanche Hexa HD6 will be used to guarantee production capacity, quality and price for the foreseeable future for merchants using Inkthreadable as their on-demand printing partner.

On to the future

And as for the future? Alex and Amy have set their sights on sustainable growth. Amy says: “We plan to invest in more equipment as needed to grow our printing capacity. The Avalanche Hexa HD6 has given us some breathing room, and for now our main focus is on offering unparalleled customer support and building on our environmental and social responsibility policies.

“We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can for our customers and the environment through offering a first class customer experience and embracing new technologies, like the Kornit machines, to make our products and services as eco-friendly as possible.”

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