Naples-based customised gift items and small furnishings manufacturer First Class has revealed how its recent investment in a Ricoh Pro TF6250 industrial inkjet printer has allowed it to become more productive and offer a wider range of services to customers.
Founded over 30 years ago, First Class designs and manufactures more than 1,000 products including wall and table clocks, wedding favours, photo frames, stationery sets and jewellery boxes. Many of these involve printing images, text and graphics onto materials such as glass, wood and metals.
First Class previously used a small flatbed printer, with screen printing for more customised patterns. However, the size of the print table on the flatbed device meant it could only print onto a small number of items at one time, slowing down production.
As such, First Class had been on the lookout for a new printer that could produce high-quality results across all manner of objects and larger materials, allowing it to deliver a wider range of products to customers.
After speaking with the specialist team at Ricoh and viewing demonstrations of its large-format printers, First Class identified the Ricoh Pro TF6250 as the ideal solution. To support the printer, First Class also invested in the ColorGATE Productionserver, with both solutions being installed in February 2023.
The Ricoh Pro TF6250 now enables First Class to print onto materials of up to 2,500mm x 1,300mm, opening up new work and markets for the company to expand into. As well as CMYK colours, the Ricoh Pro TF6250 enables First Class to print in white to create vivid and striking visual effects.
The company uses Ricoh’s Pro UV Ink DG130 formulations, which provide exceptional adhesion and durability for both standard media and industrial substrates and enable the reproduction of marble and other visual effects.
“We wanted to accelerate the production and dispatch of customer orders,” First Class Managing Director Giovanni Femiano said. “Essentially, we looked for much higher print speeds to help us manage large and small orders seamlessly, and ways to offer customers a broader range of design options and visual effects.
“One of the key advantages of the Pro TF6250 is the flexibility it gives us to manage every kind of customer request, without a hitch. If we receive a large order for hundreds of wedding photo frames, we can easily scale up production to have items ready for shipping very quickly. Conversely, we can also craft one-off products with highly customised and intricate designs for a customer.”
The accompanying ColorGATE Productionserver software also forms a key component in the new production workflow. As well as helping to calibrate and optimise colour output, the solution enables First Class to calculate costs for specific customer requests, based on factors such as ink and power consumption. This information also enables the company to provide competitive quotes to customers.
“Ricoh provided excellent support, helping us set up the Pro TF6250 for different media and product types and training us to use ColorGATE Productionserver,” Giovanni said. “Being able to calculate costs before starting a print job is very useful, especially for large volume work, and it helps us to operate profitably at all times.
“With Ricoh, we have gone from relying on a limited, small-scale flatbed device and manual processes to using a best-in-class large-format printer. The Pro TF6250 is helping us to create great quality items in shorter lead times that meet and exceed customer expectations.
“As we continue to scale production volumes, we are becoming a more competitive and efficient business, with a bright future ahead.”