Direct Edge Media upgrades capabilities with a VUTEk h5 hybrid and two VUTEk 5r+ roll-to-roll printers

November 10, 2021

Direct Edge Media, a comprehensive wide format and commercial print service company, is expanding its fleet of printers from Electronics For Imaging, Inc. at its Denver facility with two new EFI™ VUTEk® 5r+ roll-to-roll printers and a VUTEk h5 hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll printer. These equipment additions create an opportunity for the high-volume display graphics facility in Denver to add more speed while reducing costs.

“In the current market situation, costs are going up and our customers are seeing fewer sales,” said Direct Edge Chief Operating Officer Jeff Shumaker. “Therefore, we need to be as competitive as possible while still turning a profit. EFI helps us to do that.” In that environment, selecting the new VUTEk printers is an easy choice. “At Direct Edge, we’ve come to count on EFI’s solutions. Their print-output quality always is top-notch, and they’ve shown a consistent ability to stand behind their products and support us in the field.”

The newly installed, highly advanced, 205-inch-wide VUTEk 5r+ UV LED inkjet devices can print superior-quality images quickly, while giving users the highest range of options for faster throughput and automated productivity. Direct Edge’s new roll-to-roll solutions feature a reengineered printing algorithm that delivers superior quality with a lower total cost of ownership. Productivity-enhancing options Direct Edge included with its 5r+ devices include auto blockout printing, and bi-directional cutters and slitters for inline finishing.

The printers offer resolutions up to 1,200 dots per inch (dpi), with EFI’s 7-picoliter UltraDrop™ Technology delivering multi-drop addressability for high-definition image quality, outstanding smoothness in shadows, gradients, and transitions, and superb text quality with text in both standard and higher quality modes. Media-handling accessories for the Direct Edge’s VUTEk 5r+ model printers facilitate easier media loading to help the company complete more jobs per shift.

Shumaker was eager to install the VUTEk h5, EFI’s newest-generation high-production hybrid UV LED printer. The 126-inch-wide printer also features resolutions up to 1,200 dpi with 5-picoliter UltraDrop Technology. The VUTEk h5 model prints with up to eight colors, but the extended color gamut possible with the printer’s four-color process inkset gives Direct Edge the ability to produce premium-quality work at fast speeds of up to 109 boards per hour using a CMYK x 2 ink configuration.

Quick-turn work with a big impact

The three newly installed printers help with the continued advancement of Direct Edge Denver’s world-class operation, which is known for the remarkable execution of large graphics produced with small turnaround times. The attention to detail placed in choosing digital print solutions helped the company run leaner, but at high volumes.

Producing high-quality work quickly has always allowed Direct Edge to be a leading provider in the venue and event space. When Direct Edge acquired Denver-based signage provider SLXL in 2020 from Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) – the American subsidiary of the world's largest owner of sports teams and sporting events – it cemented Direct Edge as a leading-edge graphics provider for many of the biggest events in sports and entertainment.

“Direct Edge has become one of our largest customers, one that has been able to persevere, and gain a stronger competitive edge, in a challenging market,” said Frank Mallozzi, chief revenue officer, EFI. “The ability to meet the exacting requirements needed in very important event installations it handles puts Direct Edge Denver in the very top tier of display graphics innovators. We are happy to partner with this customer yet again providing even more productivity and efficiency in high-impact out-of-home graphics, and we look forward to helping Direct Edge prosper in 2022 and beyond.”

This summer, Direct Edge produced graphics for Major League Baseball’s 2021 All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver. Colorado Springs-based USA Triathlon, the national governing body for triathlon events, is an especially high-volume account. “We produce graphics for races and weekly events,” said Shumaker. “We also handle store refreshers for up to 1,400 retail locations that carry their gear.”

Direct Edge Denver is also the official signage and graphics provider for Ball Arena, the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche, the Colorado Rapids, the Colorado Mammoth and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

In addition to its 50,000-square-foot Colorado location, which caters to out-of-home (OOH) markets and specializes in venue and event graphics, Direct Edge is headquartered in California and operates two additional facilities in Anaheim, Calif., that target retail customers for smaller-format print work. Combined, the company’s three plants employ 170 people with approximately 175,000-square-feet of production space.

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