Commercial and digital printer Hickling & Squires has become the second UK printer to take the new Xerox Versant 180 digital press.

The machine was installed at the beginning of June in the outfit’s Nottinghamshire premises and replaces a five-year-old Xerox Nuvera mono machine. It joins two other Versants, an 80 and a 2100, in Hickling’s digital department, both of which were installed last yearKent-based Smart Print Services installed the first 180, which has a starting list price of £35,288, last month.

Hickling sales director Lee Jordan said the release of the new Versant models was “good timing” as the Nuvera was “coming to the end of its natural life”.

“We were looking to replace the Nuvera and it really made sense to replace it with a colour device because the demand for mono work has dropped and the demand for colour has increased,” said Jordan.

“We still do mono work but can do a fairly efficient cost-effective single-colour job through the colour machine, and it gives you the capability to do colour work as well.

“The click rate has come down so it made perfect sense to replace with a colour device and we were happy and content with the performance of the other two Versants in terms of quality and productivity, so it made sense to add another one in the range because we can move work around between all three.”

The 180 was launched in April, along with the Xerox Versant 3100. It runs at a top speed of 80ppm, taking paper weights from 52gsm to 350gsm at a maximum sheet size of 330x660mm.

As with previous Versants, it comes with an inline spectrophotometer for increased colour automation and is suitable for a wide range of media types, including coated and uncoated papers, bright papers, labels, business cards, glossy brochures and window decals.

Hickling’s Versant 180 has not been configured with the Xerox Performance Package, which allows for faster printing on higher paper grammages.

After its first month, Jordan said he had seen an increase in the digital work taken on by the traditionally litho business. He said the current litho to digital breakdown in terms of order numbers stands at around 80%-20% but the gap is narrowing.

“We are still a heavily biased litho business but digital has increased year-on-year, we’re successfully expanding that side of the business and have been successful winning tenders that include digital work as well as an increased demand from existing customers,” he said.

On the litho side, Hickling runs three Heidelberg Speedmaster CD 74s, six-, eight- and 10-colour, along with large-format and finishing equipment, which includes a Muller Martini Presto II saddle stitcher installed earlier this year. It has sales of around £4.7m, which it is looking to increase to circa-£5m.

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