Promotional merchandise network triples its mug production with SC-F9300

Promotional merchandise network triples its mug production with SC-F9300

Pyramid International is a promotional merchandise network of 10 companies across the globe, producing bulk and print-on-demand promotional merchandise

Pyramid International offers a wide range of promotional merchandise including posters and wall art, stationary, printed mugs and giftware, mostly focused around licensed properties, such as film, TV and gaming releases including those from some of the biggest names in the business such as Disney, Marvel and Netflix.

While most of Pyramid’s bulk orders are fulfilled off-shore, a significant and growing quantity of print-on-demand orders are fulfilled in the UK. A bespoke workflow has been developed so that each product has its own production line, with dedicated printers serving each line. Within its printer portfolio, Pyramid now uses two Epson SureColor SC-F9300 dye sublimation machines to drive the production of printed ceramic mugs, producing decals that are then heat-transferred to the end product in an industrial oven.

Higher print quality for easy licenser approvals

One of the biggest challenges that Pyramid had been facing was print quality. “We had been running a pair of Mimaki JV300 machines and we needed to find a new solution as results were really poor,” explains Kyle Hearst, Print Production Manager at Pyramid International. “The images were very grainy and our licensers were increasingly rejecting what we were sending them so we couldn’t get the items approved for production and out to the retailers for sale. Timing for merchandise around film and game launches is absolutely critical so we needed to find machines we could rely on to consistently deliver on time without any compromise on quality.”

“We have a close working relationship with i-Sub, an Epson reseller, and when we explained the issues we were experiencing, they guided us towards the SureColor SC-F9300. The quality of the print from these machines is amazing compared to what we had before. Customers have actually been getting back to us telling us how much it’s improved, so that’s a big plus.”

The Epson PrecisionCore TFP printhead produces exceptional image quality thanks to its 360dpi printhead nozzle configuration, producing a maximum resolution of up to 720 x 1440dpi. Epson UltraChrome DS inks produce vibrant colours, sharp contours and smooth gradations, with excellent light and wash fastness, and outstanding abrasion and perspiration resistance.

Tripled production capacity

Printing over 250,000 print-on-demand mugs each year, speed is essential to Pyramid. “The SureColor SC-F9300 is certainly faster than the Mimakis were, but the bottleneck was always the heat transfer,” continues Hearst. “We worked closely with i-Sub to develop a new profile for the Epson printers that put down less ink, while maintaining colour that pops. This meant that the mugs cured 3x quicker, so we can now produce triple the number of mugs in a day than we could before. It saves on ink as well, but the time saving is massive and we can also deliver short-turnaround orders much faster. i-Sub have been incredible in terms of support and they’ve really helped us get the most out of these printers. The additional value they’ve added has been phenomenal.

“Another huge time saver has been the fact that the maintenance programme for these machines is so easy. The SC-F9300 has a self-maintenance kit in it. The Mimakis needed attention every day, whereas with the Epson machines it is once a week. The printers are also easy to use and train people on. We often work with staffing agencies so we bring in agency staff and train them in different departments. The RIP’s GUI is straightforward and intuitive, so it’s really easy to train them up on these printers.”

Epson's Edge Print software offers enhanced control of print output. Users simply install the hardware and RIP software and gain access to a host of features, including preview, hot folder, copy, trimming, nesting tiling and step and repeat. Edge Print works intuitively with other Epson tools, such as the browser-based Control Dashboard, which allows you to set up customised print settings quickly and easily. Epson’s LFP Accounting Tool also helps you calculate the value of each print, based on ink and substrate consumption, allowing you to cost each job accurately.