Pineapple Express invests in second Canon Colorado UVgel roll-to-roll printer from CMYUK

August 25, 2022
Matt & Tommy Gunn-Cullin, co-founders of Pineapple Express Matt & Tommy Gunn-Cullin, co-founders of Pineapple Express

Edinburgh-based Pineapple Express has invested in a Canon Colorado 1630 printer. This comes a year on from the installation of the Colorado 1650. Both printers were purchased from CMYUK.

The original Colorado 1650 replaced two HP Latex printers. “There are parts that HP Latex technology can’t reach that led to us to look for an alternative,” says Matt Gunn-Cullin, co-founder and joint MD alongside his partner, Thomas Gunn-Cullin. The new Colorado 1630 replaces the company’s last remaining HP Latex printer. “The durability and quality of the Colorado prints are superior to the prints coming from our old HP Latex machines to the point where customers were noticing,” says Matt.

The Colorado 1630 complements the 1650 perfectly. It introduces a monodirectional mode unavailable on the 1650, which whilst slower, produces clean dark solid colours every time. “Even the slowest monodirectional speed on the 1630 is still almost 3x faster than our old HPs. The combination of the 1630 with the 1650, which is a real workhorse puts us in a very good place that allows us to produce just about anything,” says Matt.

The installation of this second printer has enabled the company to promote the gamut of solid colour designs including darker hues and shades. It has also allowed Pineapple Express to confidently double its marketing efforts now that it has the capability to support twice the volume of work.

Core specialism

The company’s core specialism is producing photographic backdrops for product and food photography, made available under their own ‘Club Backdrops’ sub-brand. It attracts two distinct customer types – entrepreneurs who are promoting their own products, and professional photographers that require backdrops for client product shoots which has included the likes of John Lewis, Buzzfeed and Deliveroo.

“We see our stuff popping up in magazines all the time, which is really nice,” says Matt.

The photographic backdrops are typically used for food or product shots, and popular sizes are 60cm x 90cm or 90cm x 120 cm for a slightly more expansive scene.

Recent investment in its customisable product range now means that photographers can order backdrops that match their clients’ brands exactly. This has become hugely popular with creators and agencies looking for a less limited alternative to popular Colorama paper backdrops, one which is durable, reusable, and has a limitless palette.

Colour stability is key. “Prior to installing the Colorado, colour consistency had been a nightmare. We used a spectrophotometer and calibrated the HP Latex printers twice a week. We felt we had to, otherwise they drifted into green or magenta, cold or warm territory - especially noticeable as we produce a lot of neutral greys. This is a complete non-issue with the Colorado, you create a profile and that's it. We’ve not had to do any colour calibrations either with the first or second printers since we’ve had them. We don't even have to think about it. We’re in complete control. There’s no longer the daily battle to keep the colour in line,” says Matt.

CMYUK – a new dimension in flatness

Pineapple Express had an established relationship with CMYUK as it had been supplying materials for the HP Latex equipment.

“One of the most important considerations about our backdrops is that they must be as flat as possible. You’re shooting directly in front of it and studio lights will pick up any imperfection. The thing about HP Latex inks is that they cure at high temperatures which warps the printing material. We took a long time to find the right heat resistant material, and when we did, we found it through CMYUK. So, when we received a Canon Colorado marketing e-mail from CMYUK, I immediately made the call and got some samples,” says Matt.

Stunning UV inkset

Matt is really impressed by the quality of Canon’s UV-gel inkset. Pineapple Express also produces large canvas backdrops and in the past when printing HP Latex onto these matt canvases, found that while the results looked good, there were durability issues.

“You could run a fingernail over it, and you’d end up with transparent marks,” says Matt. “When you’re running canvas through the Colorado you just don’t get that. In fact, the UV-gel inks almost make the canvas waterproof. You can literally flick mayonnaise or olive oil on it (not uncommon in the world of food photography), and it comes straight off. These gel inks are super durable,” he says.

For obvious reasons, photographic backdrops need to avoid glare and therefore at Pineapple Express, the company tends to use the matt mode, but can switch instantly to the gloss mode to create stickers used in despatch packaging. “These glossy stickers look good. The fact that on the Colorado you can switch from matt to gloss instantly, that you’re only using 4 colours and you can hit high speeds – the technology baffles me,” says Matt.

To accommodate the original Colorado, Pineapple Express moved into a new production facility, which is big enough to house the second printer. The extra space has also supported the company’s expansion into new areas such backdrops/props for the events and entertainment industries.

The adoption of Colorado technology has ensured faster speeds, greater volumes, and lower running costs. Print quality and durability has also increased. “Our backdrops can really take a beating and our 5-star reviews reflect this much-appreciated feature of our products,” says Matt.

Pineapple Express now has a staff of seven, all creative practitioners in their own right. Says Matt, “It’s a good environment and everyone loves working here. I really like the fact that staff can take a couple of days a week to work on their own thing, and when they come back, they are constantly engaged and invigorated.”

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