2601 success drives investment in Mimaki flatbed and roll-to-roll printers from CMYUK

November 04, 2022
Paul Johnson (L) and Steve Williamson – joint owners, 2601 Paul Johnson (L) and Steve Williamson – joint owners, 2601

2601 has installed a Mimaki JFX200-2513 EX UV LED flatbed and a Mimaki UJV55-320 UV LED 3.2m roll-to-roll printer from CMYUK. This new investment plugs the gaps in the company’s production infrastructure, allowing it to offer greater versatility to clients.

2601 was founded in May 2015 by Steve Williamson and Paul Johnson who have worked together over the years at various print companies. The former has a strong background in design, while the latter’s expertise resides in wide format printing, production, and sales.

The company offers an extensive range of printing, branding, and signage but 2601 differs from the usual wide format print service provider. There are three main strands to the business – artwork and design, wide format printing and installations. It also offers print management, project management and site surveys.

The road to CMYUK

Steve and Paul became acquainted with CMYUK through Paul Warwick, Regional Sales Manager, South, who established a regular line of communication, which over time has developed into a strong relationship.

“We’ve got a hybrid printer here but wanted something with better quality, speed, and versatility. We were considering other makes and models of flatbeds, but when we started comparing that with the cost of a pair of Mimaki's, it made sense for us to begin our 3.2m roll-to-roll journey and also amplify our capacity for rigid work using the new flatbed and prolong the life of the flatbed we already own,” says Steve.

During this process, John Sulzmann, former Artworks Solutions co-founder and now Specification Specialist for CMYUK’s Arkutex range of surface textiles for the built environment, came into the picture.

“2601 expressed a desire to move into textile production. Initially they talked about providing large backdrops for film and TV, something they hadn’t been able to do in-house themselves, but soon we understood that they had a requirement for their interiors work, a sector which this company has successfully serviced for some time. I started talking to them about CMYUK’s new Arkutex architectural textiles range. I should add, if textile architecture and all the high-yield potential that it brings, is something you want to offer then you need to invest in a 3.2m wide printer. Before long, we were all at CMYUK’s demonstration centre in Shrewsbury,” says John.

Mimaki technology

The Mimaki JFX200-2513 EX UV LED flatbed is an 8ft x 4ft flatbed that combines high value-added printing applications with high productivity. A successor to the JFX200-2513, it features impressive upgrades including a 200% increase in the white simultaneous print mode, plus the ability to detect and recover missing print nozzles.

Production is now also complemented with the new Mimaki UJV55-320 UV LED dedicated roll-to-roll printer, again offering superior print quality at up to 110m2 per hour. With a maximum resolution of 1200dpi, it offers the added versatility of dual-roll simultaneous printing. Automatic nozzle checking is standard, while a take-up unit is included in the price.

“There are lots of Mimakis on the market and there is a reason for that. They are proven, easy to use, have fantastic quality and the speed is impressive. We love the idea of using white ink on hard media. We had white ink installed on our existing printer but within a year we turned it off because it was too much hassle and expensive to use,” says Steve.

“The JFX200-2513 EX UV LED is quick and easy to pop media on the bed and get it printed. We don’t output volume – lots of our work is varied and sporadic. We do lots of work for film and TV and much of this is one-off work, so it’s great to be able to keep our flatbed as a fast swop through machine,” he adds.

One of the reasons the company purchased the Mimaki roll-to-roll printer was to enable it to move into large format textile printing such as backdrops for film, theatre and TV, a service that until now the business has been unable to provide in-house.

2601 does most of its finishing in-house. Again, jobs are extremely varied. “Our work from week to week is so varied, having the flexibility with the new kit extends the volume of work that can now be undertaken. We have an extensive supply chain that the team have built up over the years that we call upon depending on the extent of each project, we may put some of the work out, but we choose as to when, what, and who,” says Steve.

Collaborative business practices

2601 has established a rather refreshing approach to its business that focusses on collaborating with the competition rather than fighting it. It works very closely with a wide-format print company situated a stone’s throw away from its premises – taking on some of its larger print and cutting work rather than it having to outsource elsewhere.

“That’s the way Paul and I operate the company,” says Steve. “We engage and build great relationships with our suppliers, and people that are in the same realm as us, rather than fight against each other. We sometimes also share staff on a freelance basis and have proven to work very well for us. We’re a positive open book here. We know what we do and are bold and confident in how we carry out our services while retaining a fun and relaxed atmosphere.” he says.

Arkutex and interiors

2601 has a fresh approach to work – working across different sectors and markets, with no two days alike. Clients includes the likes of Longleat, Allianz, Cardiff Airport, Bristol Zoo, Bupa, Bath Rugby, and Rolls Royce. Servicing film and TV clients has a definite requirement for speed, imagination, and attention to detail.

Inspired by the Arkutex portfolio, the company has announced that it will be adopting CMYUK’s Arkutex portfolio of surface textiles for the built environment as a solution to its interiors work. It has attended the PONGS® showroom in Germany with CMYUK to receive training and accreditation as a PONGS® DESCOR® approved installer, the manufacturer’s innovative stretch fabric tension frame system for walls, ceilings, and panels.

Building business momentum

With an eye to further growth the company has employed an apprentice from a local college taking the staff count to seven. This includes Nigel Davies, a highly experienced print professional who owned and managed successful print businesses, but now semi-retired, fulfils a mentoring role at the company.

“I’ve watched Paul and Steve build a remarkable business in such a short space of time. I don’t think even they realise quite how good it is sometimes. It’s a staggering achievement from the quality of the work to the credentials of the clients. They have developed very good customer relationships and have a strong client base,” says Nigel.

Says Steve, “Both Paul and I are very driven. When we decide to go for something, we really go for it. Whenever we have bought equipment, we make sure we install the best that we can at the time. This year we’ve bought new premises in Bristol, added new equipment to our production portfolio, and are very excited to get a lot more involved with Arkutex. We already work with lots of interiors companies, and this is going to push us even further. We’re feeling very positive.”

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