Did you miss the InnoPrinter in action at P&P LIVE! earlier in the year? Well Simon Holt and his business partner Steve Ward didn’t. The two men were so impressed by this innovative transfer printer that they formed a distribution hub in the UK for it. P&P editor Melanie Attlesey reports.
Spanish company Thermapren is responsible for the development and the creation of the InnoPrinter. This machine combines the simplicity of transfer application with the efficiency and low print cost of screen printing.
But how did two garment decorators by trade come to set up a UK distribution point for the InnoPrinter? The answer is simple – it all started with a visit to Printwear & Promotion LIVE! back in February.
Testing the water
Thermapren decided to see if there was a demand for the InnoPrinter in the UK by debuting at the show. This is where Simon and Steve saw the printer for the very first time.
Simon has been a garment decorator since starting his own business eight years ago in his parents’ loft printing T shirts. As a regular visitor to the show over the years, he had no real intention of purchasing any new machinery and visited solely to keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry. He wasn’t even aware that the InnoPrinter was going to be demonstrated at the show, but seeing it by chance on Thermapren’s stand has changed the course of Simon’s business for the better.
He says: “Steve and I must have walked past about three or four times and couldn’t get over how impressive it was. We just thought we have to have one. It really was a no brainer.”
Simon and Steve purchased the first InnoPrinter sold in the UK and it was during the installation three weeks later that Thermapren asked the pair to become a UK distributor – of which they agreed.
Laura Montoliu, area export manager for Thermapren, explains: “After testing the waters at P&P LIVE! 2017, it was clear that to streamline the sales and service of our machines, we needed to appoint a distributor in the UK.
“Having Simon and Steve working with us in the UK means the customer receives the support and attention they require much faster than would be possible from Spain. We are extremely pleased and thankful for all the hard work they are performing, they have gone beyond all expectation. We are glad to confirm that our innovative technology is in the perfect hands for the high demanding and challenging English market.”
But what is it about the InnoPrinter that is so appealing?
It’s the speed and simplicity that is key. Using an innovative continuous roll system, the machine can transfer print a four-colour design in as quick as 0.8 seconds. All the user has to do is line up the garment on the platen, step on a foot pedal to activate the heat press and hey presto the print is complete is less than a second and the garment can be worn instantly. The printer uses optical registration to ensure the print is lined up in the same place each time on the platen and as a result the user can comfortably produce in excess of 500 prints an hour.
“The hardest issue we face is trying to get across to the customer that this printer does everything in one go. Although the transfers cannot be produced in house, the overall cost saving in production time is phenomenal. The pre-prepared roll transfers require no pre-treatment, no curing and no weeding,” says Simon.
The printer is not designed for one offs or short runs as a minimum order of the transfer roll is 50 prints of the same design. Instead it is ideal for bulk orders from schools, businesses and sports teams where repeat orders are almost certainly guaranteed. It works out approximately 90p a print for 50 small prints using one basic colour and for 1,000 small prints it works out approximately 16p a print using one basic colour, so ultimately the greater the order the cheaper the print costs.
And as Simon says above, the specially formulated ink transfers cannot be produced by the user in house and instead have to be ordered through InnoPrinter (UK) directly. They can be with the user within four days. The reason for this is because the transfer rolls are created using a top secret process.
The transfer roll is easy to fit into the feed at the top of the printer and as each design is printed, the transfer roll feeds through automatically. Over 50% of the ink penetrates into the fabric and as a result there is no cracking, peeling or fading and the image lasts in excess of 100 washes.
The machine comes in four sizes. The MK III, with a print are of 350x240mm, is the most versatile of the four and the one most customers are likely to purchase because of this.
Potential for businesses
A user can be up and running on the InnoPrinter after just two hours of training – it really is that simple to use.
There are now 10 machines in use in the UK, including the one that Simon uses in his own garment decoration business. “Since we’ve been out demonstrating these machines to potential customers, we’ve only ever had one company not buy there and then. They could see the potential but weren’t sure they had an immediate requirement. I’d like to think they’ll be back in touch soon,” he says.
School Trends of Sheffield was one of InnoPrinter (UK)’s first customers. After seeing InnoPrinter (UK)’s first-ever advert in the May issue of Printwear & Promotion, Alan Edwards, continuous improvement facilitator, said they enquired about the printer a few days later on May 5.
He adds: “After closer investigation on Youtube and seeing the potential for our business, we decided to get in touch with InnoPrinter (UK) to see a demonstration.
“Upon seeing the machine in action we decided to purchase it there and then. The superb quality of the transfers and the speed at which they can be applied has increased our capacity dramatically while also improving the quality of our transfer decoration.
“The team at Innoprinter (UK) have been superb to work with and the customer service they have provided has been above and beyond.”
School Trends uses the printer for a wide array of items with varying fabric types. These include cotton T shirts, polyester garments, cotton blend sweatshirts, bags, caps and more.
Across Europe there are approximately 500 machines currently in use. Big name fashion houses and top Spanish football clubs are reported to be users of the printer. “It’s huge on the continent. Established businesses have seen the pinch point and realise this is a great addition to their business,” says Simon.
Create a buzz
The InnoPrinter can be seen in action at Printwear & Promotion LIVE! in January, where Simon and Steve will be demonstrating it.
“The show is going to be really important for us. We are keen to get the InnoPrinter seen and to create a buzz. We have set ourselves a sales target and we really hope to achieve it,” says Simon.
He adds that their focus at the show will be start-up businesses as he feels the InnoPrinter will be able to make a huge difference to their set-up.
Be sure to pay a visit to InnoPrinter (UK) on stand K62 if you want to find out more how you can transform your business.
P&P LIVE! 2018 will take place in Halls 17 & 18 at the NEC in Birmingham from Sunday, January 21 to Tuesday, January 23. Registration is now open.