Filmless digital etching remarkably reduces the pre-etching work process.
Interview with Mimaki user
Akatsuki Kagaku Co., Ltd.
Mr. Takuya Yonezawa, President
Mimaki product: JFX500-2131, UJF-6042
Akatsuki Kagaku Co., Ltd. (Akatsuki) was founded in 1951. The company motto is “Never say no to anyone for anything.”
Reliable technology in color printing and etching is a very important element in satisfying a range of client needs. Akatsuki installed Mimaki digital etching system in April 2013 to expand its business opportunities.
Etching is one of the necessary techniques used in the company.
Your company has been making name plates more than 60 years. How do you position the technique of etching?
Our products are special parts/products that include outfitting parts of bus or truck bodies, nameplates, and outdoor signage. Our business is like a custom-house builder.
Under the slogan of “Never say no to anyone for anything,” we have been establishing our techniques and equipment to satisfy a wide range of client needs. The etching* technique was also installed at a client’s request.
*Etching: Creating intaglio design on a metal using a strong acid.
Currently, etching accounts for 5%–10% of total work volume. However, etching is a necessary technique.
From photo etching to digital etching
How did you decided to introduce the Mimaki printer?
Photo etching requires complicated processes and time for printing on a film.
Owing to many procedures, a larger working space is required, and what is worse, the very strong smell of developing fluid and stabilizer affects health; thus, time and cost are spent on the disposal of these fluids.
Furthermore, a film, the essential materials used in etching, would not be available in future.
Only one major manufacturer provided a film for etching, and I had heard that they would stop film production. Therefore, I looked for a substitute and found a digital etching system.
What made you decide to use a Mimaki printer?
I collected many samples from many companies around the world and researched them to find the best one to satisfy our required specifications and accuracy, as well as installation cost.
We have been using the Mimaki cutting plotter for more than 20 years, since the Hokusai series.
Both of us already have some relationship. Moreover, Mimaki accepted our sample requests many times with good grace. I was very impressed.
Quality is the first priority for industrial printing to meet clients’ quality criteria.
Because the conventional etching method is still superior to the digital in particular techniques, I inspected inkjet printing samples repeatedly.
In 2013, we installed UJF-6042 in March and JFX500-2131 in April. We have been trying to increase product quality. I think Mimaki offers a very considerate and reliable maintenance service.
The versatile Mimaki printer enables to print on large substrates using less time, space, and energy.
You have been using Mimaki printers for five months, how do you like them?
I am very satisfied with the print speed, which is higher than our expectation. Conventional printers can print onto only two name plates simultaneously, but the Mimaki printer can print onto 20 plates at once! Furthermore, I also like a large print area up to 3 m × 2 m (9 ft × 6.5 ft), although I haven’t printed onto such a large substrate yet.
Owing to Mimaki’s inkjet printer, the production processes have been reduced and operators can focus on the post-printing processes that affect the accuracy of the product.
To establish more effective production processes with a better product quality, we are studying to find the optimum pre-print process.
Do you have any issues during print operations?
Since I have used it only for a short time, I still don’t know how much cost saving is achieved by inkjet printing, e.g., ink consumption volumes per print.
This is a very crucial value that affects the product price, and therefore, I need to study it very carefully.
I would like to ask Mimaki to fix some minor problems. I need a faster data transfer rate between the PC and the printer and would prefer a less noisy vacuuming unit.
What ideas and plans do you have for future business?
The versatility of the Mimaki inkjet printer prompted my purchase decision. Therefore, I would like to utilize UV-curable inkjet printing to offer new applications to clients. To expand our business opportunities, I will seek to find optimum print applications with our employees through trial and error.
I would like to have information or data regarding the weatherability of prints from Mimaki since outdoor signage print orders have increased. I have a high expectation on these printers to increase our company performance.
Akatsuki Kagaku Co., Ltd.http://www.akatsuki-kagaku.jp/
|Description of business||Akatsuki chemical industry manufactures automobile parts, industrial machine parts, name plates, and outdoor/indoor signage and advertisements using the production methods as follows: etching, baking finish, engraving, sheet metal working, press working, silk printing, and inkjet printing.|
|Mimaki products being used at Akatsuki Kagaku Co., Ltd.||
・JFX500-2131 (Isntalattion date: April, 2013)
・UJF-6042 (Installation date: March, 2013)
|Main application of JFX500-2131||The JFX500-2131 is used for the digital etching of metal plates and for color printing.|