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Look! A second LightJet! 
By Peter Kohn

Using Océ  technology, a Sydney large-format print business ushers in tandem imaging on its production floor.

A major technology upgrade is helping Sydney large-format printer Look Print to position itself as a printer of point-of-sale materials for the consumer, retail and manufacturing markets.

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 David Leach

Managing director David Leach has forged the Leichardt-based company from a conventional signage business about 10 years ago into a dynamic operation that has taken on the emerging markets in large-format digitally printed visual merchandising.

Look Corporate, trading as Look Print has a staff of 62, operating on a five-day/24-hour schedule, with shift work on a sixth day.

Around 30,000sq m of media is output each month in a variety of technologies, as large-format photography, solvent, UV, roll-to-roll and flatbed printing. As well, Look Print prepares its own boards and handles mounting, finishing and laminating of its products.

The company’s latest acquisition is its second Océ LightJet 430 wide-format photo laser printer.

Each LightJet 430 images 40sq m per hour at a premium-quality 4000dpi.  Leach says Look Print has worked with Kodak, printing to Kodak Endura paper and display media at up to 127cm wide, offering clients a stunning alternative to inkjet for backlit and front-lit prints.
dsc00664-1 250.gif It is wooing high-street retailers to "the superb quality of continuous-tone photographic laser reproduction in the wider formats." High speeds mean fast turnarounds, which is just what Look Print's clients require for its demand-driven market. It can also be used in portrait enlargement, in-plant printing, industrial and mapping applications.

Now that a second LightJet is operating, new synergies have developed, with one machine used for short-run work and the other to express-process volume jobs for which approvals have already been confirmed.

The addition of the second LightJet means Look Print no longer has to divide its short and long-run work between day and night shifts. “We would do all our short-run work during the day, when we have all our majority staff here, and we’d print long-run work overnight.” Now the two machines simply run in tandem, and production schedules can be far more flexible.

dsc00667-1 250.gifLook Print has also invested in an HP TurboJet 8500 UV inkjet printer, which is based on Scitex technology, acquired when HP bought the internationally-renowned wide-format development company. This new wide-format roll-to-sheet machine was added last October.

It provides 1.6 x 3.7m printing at a speed of up to 400sq m per hour and a resolution of 600 x 600dpi on a broad range of flexible substrates, including uncoated stocks.

"The HP is ideal for our high-end retail visuals and the out-of-home sector, including buses, bus shelters, street furniture and window displays," says Leach.

A NUR Tempo flatbed printer enables printing on rigid substrates such as boards and flutes, without the need to separately mount and laminate.
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With the backing of all this technology, Look Print has taken on markets for a wide array of products -- in volumes previously considered to be the sole territory of screen printing.. Some of these are posters, banners, window decals, floor graphics, transit advertising, digital wallpapers and lightbox prints, as well as fabrics and textiles. “We’ve expanded into some non-traditional markets,” says Leach.

A major aspect of Look Print's direct-mail campaign to its larger clients is a focus on timely delivery and an "on-time-or-it’s free" guarantee. Leach says that with digital now edging out screen technologies for printing, shorter orders and quick turnarounds are being demanded by clients to match a more responsive advertising industry and its needs for ever-shrinking signage life-cycles. Digital printing's overall quality and time to market has won it plaudits in this area.

Look Print is marketing itself as "a total value proposition". For example, the company is offering a comprehensive print package, including displays.

"Our research showed that for most larger retail clients, it would be more economical to use finished signs in a display package than to constantly re-use their own stands, which is time-consuming and labour-intensive," says Leach.
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Look Print is offering the Enviro X Display, a tension banner stand that provides a generous 600 x 1500mm image area, lightweight construction of under 2kg, easy assembly, and hanging or standing modes. Clients can order Enviro X either as a discrete display or bundled with their signage order.

Another advantage of digitally printed displays is the versatility of variable-data printing in providing segmented promotional activity. Says Leach:  "A retail operation with several outlets might want to have signs with the store manager's name on them, or they might want to promote different products in different geographic areas,"