The Print Hive can meet increasing demand in two key areas – sustainable graphics and customised interiors – without sacrificing speed, quality or affordability, following the installation of a Roland EJ-640 DECO, a dedicated printing solution for the thriving interior decoration market.
Chaz Dobson, director of The Print Hive, says he was attracted to the EJ-640 DECO when it was launched in early 2020. Established in a spare bedroom with a Roland printer/cutter eight years ago, The Print Hive now operates from a 3,000sq/ft unit in Weston-super-Mare. Around 90% of its business is to the trade – sign makers, design agencies and interior designers – with individual orders for products like business cards and flyers making up the remaining ten per cent. In addition, The Print Hive runs House of Walls, an e-commerce site for custom printed interior decor.
"We work on lots of great projects and our clients are more like colleagues to us," he says. "Their requirements change over time, so we need to continually upgrade our equipment."
The Print Hive has been using a Roland SOLJET XR-640 printer/cutter with white ink for several years, alongside a printer with latex-based ink. When the Roland EJ-640 DECO was released Chaz and the team chose to switch from latex to its water-based technology.
"The latex-ink system suited us at the time but now, for interior decor applications in particular, we prefer the Roland EJ-640 DECO," he says.
Chaz was particularly attracted to the environmental and health benefits of the EJ-640 DECO’s water-based inks. The specialist formulation has achieved an A+ AgBB air rating, conforms with EN15102 standards and has been awarded the highly accredited OEKO-TEX ECO PASSPORT – all certifications proving its low impact.
"Our customers are more environmentally conscious and care about what happens throughout a product's life, and the water-based DECO has green credentials that other printers don't.
"It's also faster and, because there's no drying or outgassing, we can process prints straightaway. Our customers also want high-end products. The DECO is very high quality, with more vivid, punchy colours."
Chaz adds that it was important that any new hardware investment would fit into its existing workflow. The Roland EJ-640 DECO is designed to accommodate rolls of wallpaper in standard sizes, for instance, which is helping The Print Hive and House of Walls meet demand for customised interiors.
"The commercial market, for example offices and estate agents, is still strong but the domestic market is definitely getting bigger," he says. "People want personalised products for their homes, whether that's wallpaper, canvases or cushion covers – and with the Roland EJ-640 DECO we can offer all of these."
Furthermore, The Print Hive has found the large-capacity ink pouches for the Roland EJ-640 DECO more cost-efficient than the ink for its previous system. This is an important consideration at any time but especially as businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19.
"In April 2020 our sales were down 60%," says Chaz. "In May it picked up, more so in June, partly thanks to orders for floor graphics and safety signs. Using the new DECO side by side with the eco-solvent SOLJET means we can accept any order. You name it, we can supply it."