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UK commercial printer goes processless with EM Setter and Superia ZD plates from Fujifilm

Installed in March 2021, Fujifilm’s new, high-quality 8up CTP platesetter system is Hickling & Squires’ first investment in processless plate technology and the company is delighted with the early results. Substantial time, cost and labour savings are already apparent, and there has been a huge reduction in waste generated through the pre-press process – all while maintaining the same high standards of quality and reliability the company has always prided itself upon.

Hickling & Squires is a full-service commercial and wide format print business based in Nottingham. With 30 employees and a 60-year heritage, the company serves a huge range of customers; from the leisure and hospitality sectors; to higher education, retail and the public sector.

In early 2020, with its existing platesetter nearing end-of-life and proving increasingly unreliable, the management team began searching for an alternative. They did not have to look far.

“We’d been Fujifilm plate customers for six or seven years,” explains Production Director, Jamie Gilbert. “We’re very happy with the quality of product and level of service we’ve had from them over that time, so it was only natural that we would talk to them first.

“We’d also been looking to move over to processless plates for some time as well,” Gilbert continues. “We knew that the environmental benefits, as well as the cost, time and labour savings to be gained in making that switch were considerable, but it was just a case of finding the right moment.

“With the old platesetter getting replaced anyway, it made sense on a number levels to make sure that the replacement could take us down that processless route. In our conversations with Fujifilm, we quickly became convinced that their new EM Setter and processless Superia ZD plate was the right next step for us. It sounded like excellent value for money and we already had tremendous confidence in Fujifilm’s ability to offer an exceptional level of service and support.”

Though these initial conversations took place in early 2020, the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent national lockdowns in the UK meant that things got put on hold for a while.

“2020 was a tough year,” says Gilbert. “Things slowed down a lot, especially during the first lockdown, and we got pretty concerned all over again when the third lockdown was announced in January 2021. But a year on, we’re actually as busy as ever and the future is looking very positive.”

The eventual loosening of restrictions meant that the Hickling & Squires’ long-planned investment could finally go ahead, with the new EM Setter finally installed in March 2021.

“We couldn’t be happier with it,” says Gilbert. “We’ve been able to get rid of our processor, which means no more processing chemicals and no more processing waste. We used to have to factor in servicing and maintenance costs for the processor as well, so that has all gone too.

“We’ve freed up staff time to put to more productive uses and the cost saving is already massive. It’s completely changed the way we work.

“Obviously we already had a very positive working relationship with Fujifilm, and I really couldn’t fault them on anything through the whole sales and installation process. They’ve been fantastic.”

“Processless technology is the future of litho print,” says Andy Kent Divisional Manager, Fujifilm Graphic Systems UK. “And Fujifilm’s EM Setter offers one of the best value and most accessible routes into this market. We’re delighted to have been able to help Hickling & Squires to take this important step and we look forward to working with them as they continue to build and grow their business.”