New Mimaki printers boost Badgemaster productivity

Ian Bradbeer, Badgemaster’s managing director, with one of the newly purchased UJF-6042 MkIIs

From its base in Nottinghamshire, UK, Badgemaster offers a unique service to companies thanks to its vision and commitment to quality and innovation. Formed in 1992, Badgemaster now employs over 100 people and turns over £5 million, manufacturing the name badges that are sported by millions of staff at tens of thousands of companies around the world.

With customers in practically every business sector, Badgemaster is widely regarded as the market leader, with an enviable client list of blue-chip brands operating in the service, retail, hospitality and healthcare industries. A full gamut of production processes spans its premises; with screen printing, hot foiling, laser engraving, routing, resin doming and digital printing forming an unparalleled array of capabilities as the company enjoys a sustained period of growth.

Traditional screen printing and laser engraving continue to be key strategic disciplines. In recent years, Badgemaster has transitioned to take advantage of the latest digital technology and a suite of Mimaki printers sits at the heart of its production. “One of Badgemaster’s great strengths is our ability to combine printing and manufacturing techniques to provide the best product for the customer’s needs,” says the company’s managing director, Ian Bradbeer. “The ongoing investment in technology puts us at the forefront of the industry and the quality of our badges speaks for itself.”

“Our continued investment in Mimaki flatbed LED UV printers has brought new techniques and capacity to the business,” he continues. “We typically offer a three to five day turnaround time for existing clients and this ensures we deliver.”

Significant projects

A significant recent project involved supplying John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners with around 85,000 badges that were incorporated into their widely publicised rebrand. “The importance of the new identity was significant and Badgemaster was involved at every stage; from design consultation through to rollout, in order to ensure the client got what they required,” recalls Ian. “With the reinvention of the two brands, it was crucial to ensure that the public perception was correct from the outset.”

Badges that Badgemaster has designed and manufactured for John Lewis, Waitrose and Costa Coffee

Senior sales account manager, Claire Geere takes up the story; “We met with the client on a number of occasions, providing concepts for their marketing team, sampling materials, print techniques and colour options.” Badgemaster’s in-house design studio is the starting point for most projects, with the team of four designers using their experience and understanding of the variety of manufacturing techniques to ensure clients’ work is created appropriately. “We were able to rapidly prototype a range of concepts for John Lewis and Waitrose using the Mimaki flatbed printers, assisting the design signoff and approval process,” she concludes.

Investment required

The addition of two new Mimaki UJF MkII printers through Mimaki Authorised Partner, Sabur Ink Systems, that coincided with the John Lewis and Waitrose job gave much needed capacity to the business. “We were astute enough at the time to make the investment,” says Scott Warren, Badgemaster’s manufacturing manager. “The new Mimaki printers almost trebled the throughput we could achieve, with their latest generation print heads, larger bed size and ‘logical seek’ function that reduces the time the head carriage takes to move between print areas.”

“We make a point of maintaining regular contact with our customers, especially after a machine has been installed,” says Dan Jeffries, business development manager at Sabur. “When we upgraded Badgemaster’s older Mimaki equipment to the new UJF MkII printers, we employed a multi-day training programme to introduce the new technology into their existing workflow to ensure they were in a position to deliver the output in the timescale their client required.”

Headline jobs such as the one for John Lewis and Waitrose are not the only throughput at Badgemaster; the company’s recently introduced online ‘Badge Designer’ tool caters for customers who require much smaller runs, even catering for one-off designs. “Customers can upload artwork and design their own badge in a matter of minutes,” describes Ian. “This then sends production-ready files to the studio prior to printing – it’s added a new dimension to the business and fits perfectly with our digital workflow.”

Ian is keen to stress that, in spite of the growth in web-to-print work, Badgemaster is far from being purely an online business. “We’ve introduced this facility to continue our support for customers who require very short runs, but at any stage, we’re just a phone call away if they need assistance setting up artwork or determining the most appropriate material or effect.”

This commitment to service and support is something Badgemaster recognise in their relationship with Sabur. “The customer first approach we experience working with Sabur consistently benefits our business,” states Ian. “When we promise to go the extra mile for our customers, it’s refreshing to work with a supplier that does the same for us.”

Bespoke solutions

By combining printing and manufacturing techniques, Badgemaster can deliver a highly bespoke solution. Costa Coffee’s recent branding exercise and ‘store of the future’ project warranted a name badge sympathetic to the campaign. “We use a pre-lacquered oak as the base for the badge, screen print the corporate element and after coating with an adhesion promoter, digitally print the person’s name,” describes Warren. “The client is delighted with the end result and how it fits in with Costa’s new identity.”

Badges in production

“We spotted the original UJF on UK Mimaki distributor, Hybrid’s stand at Sign & Digital UK many years back, tested the printer with a range of substrates at their showroom in Cheshire and saw immediate advantage over alternatives,” recalls Warren. “The opacity and brightness of the white, the detail of the imagery and the adhesion of the ink were all beneficial to our business and made choosing Mimaki easy.” The company now sports eight Mimaki printers including roll-to-roll print and cut, grand format flatbed and several of its core small format UJF models.

“The new Mimaki UJF MkII printers have ensured that print has ceased to be the bottleneck in the business,” concludes Ian. “We’re printing four to five times faster than previously and our delivery times and customer satisfaction have improved as well. Our ethos and desire to investigate new ways of working smarter and better, combined with the technology we’ve invested in make the difference to our customers where it matters most.”

The Mimaki UJF-MkII

Mimaki’s latest UJF-3042 MkII, UJF-3042MkII EX and UJF-6042 MkII flatbed LED UV printers bring increased productivity and ease of use to on-demand, direct to object printing. Available in A3 or A2 format, these new models build on Mimaki’s peerless heritage to offer spectacular creativity and limitless opportunities when printing onto almost any material.

With a head gap of up to 153mm, substantial solid items can be printed onto in vibrant, photographic colour with a white and clear ink available to enhance creativity, print to transparent or coloured objects and add texture. Mimaki also offers a printable primer to improve adhesion when printing to objects with low surface energy.

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