Case study: CBS Printing forge ahead with UV LED system retrofit from Made in Britain manufacturer

Australian print and marketing solutions provider CBS has recently upgraded its Ryobi 754G+C+SLD press with a retrofitted GEW UV LED curing system, a move described by managing partner Stephen Wilson as 'bringing an old machine back to life'.

Established in 1977, CBS Printing is now recognised as a print industry leader in Australia. The family-owned company supplies corporate print and marketing solutions to brands across the country. At the heart of the business is a dedicated team of experienced staff committed to the company ethos, which is 'to uphold traditional values of honesty, integrity, and reliability.' CBS Printing's stated mission is to offer clients a competitive advantage by bringing their brands to life through premium marketing materials.

The company is led by a forward-thinking management team who are constantly developing the business to maximise its competitive edge amidst a cutthroat marketplace. Continuous investment in new technology is an essential part of that development programme and CBS has been a pioneer of new printing techniques, including the use of UV LED curing systems.

UV LED curing enables offset printers to significantly increase production and throughput of work, as printed sheets come off the press immediately dry and ready for finishing. As UV inks are dried instantly, marking of sheets in the delivery or during the perfecting process is eliminated, as is the need for machine sealer or spray powder. The process achieves sharper dots and more vibrant colours than conventional print, particularly on uncoated stock where unwanted dry back is a common problem. UV system providers also highlight the fact that UV LED curing allows plastics, PET, films, foils and other delicate substrates to be printed, as minimal heat is generated during the process.

CBS has over 20 employees at two sites:- the 1,400m2 (15,000ft2) head office and production facility at Smeaton Grange, NSW and at a smaller satellite office based in the Philippines. Stephen Wilson has been with the company for 35 years and is now a joint owner with his eldest son, Nathan, who is General Manager. They have steadily built the business and increased the product range. On moving into the purpose-built Smeaton Grange premises around seven years ago, they believed the site was larger than they would ever need. However, they are now reaching capacity and will soon be looking to expand further. 

The COVID pandemic hit business hard in early 2020 and they have had to be resourceful and adaptive to maintain a healthy level of business. At that point they ventured into producing food packaging for the first time and this has proven to be a highly successful move, as Stephen Wilson explains: "There were so many hotels and restaurants and so forth that were not able to do their catering in the usual way and so there was a sudden high demand for ready meals and safely pre-packed foods. This line of business really took off for us and has brought in over AUS$1,000,000 in the past 12 months. So there has been an incidental benefit to our business from COVID, to counter the many negatives. And to add to this, the commercial print business is now steadily returning."

Getting into this lucrative business from a standing start was a considerable challenge and the sales team at CBS had to market themselves aggressively to begin with. They found a gap in the market for the production volumes that suited them, as Wilson explains: "The Australian packaging market features a few key players who are only really interested in jobs of 500,000 and more. We are better suited to producing volumes anywhere between 5,000 and 100,000 meal sleeves, and we have subsequently found a high demand from smaller producers."

The retrofit installation of the new UV curing system has been pivotal in keeping up with this new demand. The production team at CBS had been running most of the food packaging on their RMGT 920 press because their second press, a Ryobi 754G, was not up to the job. The meal sleeves do not require the 920's A1 sheet size and yet they were taking up most of the press hours, which is why Wilson decided that action was needed. The 754 was upgraded with a retrofitted GEW LeoLED UV curing system, mounted after the 4th print unit, and this has eliminated the unwanted demand on the 920. Wilson comments: "We can now produce the sleeves without the need for aqueous coatings and although we have had to invest in the new UV system, that investment has effectively brought our 754 back to life. We can push more and more work on to this press, with the confidence that it can now handle it." The press can handle up to 600micron board with ease, and so the UV system has been the only upgrade necessary, along with the installation of a set of compatible combi rollers.

Wilson continues: "We looked at a few UV systems from various suppliers, but eventually we settled on GEW for two key reasons… we had heard favourable reports about them from others in the industry, but we were also swayed by their remote monitoring and support service, which means we have technical backup for our new system 24/7/365 and this gives us great peace of mind. That said, we haven't yet had a reason to call on the service, but we know it's there when we need it."

The design and installation of the system required some resourceful thinking, given the difficulties caused by the COVID situation. GEW usually carries out a comprehensive site survey of every press as a first stage, using a laser scanning arm to create a highly accurate 3D model. The UV system is then designed to integrate perfectly using this digital model. In this case a site survey was not possible due to travel restrictions, and so GEW sourced an identical press in the UK from which to create the 3D model.

All GEW retrofit installations are generally carried out by GEW's own service technicians, but again this was not possible due to COVID. Instead, GEW provided a comprehensive installation training video to enable a local technician to install the system, with the reassurance that GEW's service support team could thoroughly test and check the installation remotely before commissioning it, by using their online Remote Monitoring service. 

The questions remain:- If UV LED curing is so good, what are the barriers to printers adopting the technology? Why is it not more commonly used? Wilson explains his thinking on this: "Trade houses are all running Komoris and Ryobis with UV LED so they are switched on to it. But there's a lot of other commercial printers that are not running UV, so there is a market there. I think there are many printers out there that just don't think of a UV LED retrofit as being an option for their press, and of course press manufacturers are more geared to selling new machines, rather than having printers upgrade their older machines with UV LED and bringing them back to life."

Having invested in the new UV curing system, Wilson is keen to capitalise on the benefits of ownership and his production team have run successful tests on polypropylene-based synthetic papers, which are tear-proof and  highly durable. He describes his plans: "This opens up a world of new opportunities for CBS and allows us to further broaden our portfolio, moving into tags and labels, retail and packaging, menus and other similar items where very high performance is required. The instant drying that comes with UV makes printing on these added-value synthetic substrates possible, and sets us apart from our competitors."

When asked what he would say to any printer considering having a UV LED curing system retrofitted to their press, Wilson quips: "I would say don't go there! Because as soon as they do, they are back on a level playing field with me. Seriously though, in addition to the new capabilities we have, we are saving substantial sums on our energy bills, we're saving on coatings and we have dramatically reduced the number of reprints necessary due to problems like set off and dry back. The new UV system has worked wonders for our business." 


Sales contact details for CBS Printing:
Stephen Wilson, Estimator, CBS Printing, 5 Waler Crescent, Smeaton Grange, NSW 2567, Australia.
T: +61 1300 021 021 | E: 

Sales contact details for GEW:
Gary Doman, Intl. Sales Manager - Sheetfed, GEW (EC) Limited, Crompton Way, Crawley, RH10 9QR, UK.
T: +44 (0)1737 824 500 | E:

Find out more about GEW (EC) Limited on their member profile page here

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