Dutch sticker producer moves into digital printing of promotional products
Following its initial start in 1986 under the name of ‘Roaty zeefdruk’, Stickerkoning has developed into an established concept in the Dutch sign industry. Owner Ron Vermeulen now works with 11 Mimaki printers and cutting plotters supplied by the company’s regular dealer Igepa. In the spring of this year, Mimaki launched a unique printer that now enables Ron Vermeulen to continue with the expansion of Stickerkoning, which will take place in the promotional product sector in line with the capabilities offered by the small Mimaki flatbed printer. Ron also considers specialised articles, such as laptops and phones, as interesting avenues to pursue.
Faster and more efficient printing
Long delivery times and relatively high prices charged by Stickerkoning’s suppliers were the deciding factor for the digital production of promotional articles. Ron Vermeulen explains as follows: “The delivery times offered by pen manufacturers and their suppliers are still long as a result of the start-up time required for pad printing. The UJF-3042 not only enables me to print the articles myself, but also to do it quicker. The Mimaki is not only affordable, but also offers excellent quality, particularly for smaller applications that require a high degree of precision. Once we had created several print jigs and developed the right pre-treatment methods, we were able to start production immediately.” Stickerkoning did not have to go out and search for customers as it was already trading pens and lighters via pennenkoning.nl.
Ron Vermeulen describes the process that led to the purchase of the UJF-3042: “I heard about the UJF-3042 for the first time from Patrick van Doorn, my regular contact at Igepa, our Mimaki dealer. He invited me to attend a demonstration at the Mimaki Europe showroom in Amsterdam. I was pleasantly surprised. The print quality exceeded my expectations and the price was attractive, particularly when compared to the larger flatbed printers on the market.” When asked why Stickerkoning waited until now to buy a UV flatbed, Ron Vermeulen refers to the price, the necessary precision for smaller applications and the format. “The format of the average flatbed exceeds our requirements when printing promotional material. Furthermore, the cost of a larger flatbed is at least three times what we paid for the UJF-3042. I also considered the advantages of Mimaki’s UV LED print technology of major importance. I wanted to keep the heat generated on the material during the hardening of the ink as low as possible. For two reasons; on the one hand because the substrate must not be affected and on the other hand because of safety reasons, for example, lighters cannot be printed with conventional UV.
Vermeulen continues: “The only challenge during the purchasing process was finding a suitable primer, to produce a successful bond and scratch resistance on the promotional products I wanted to print.” Patrick van Doorn of Igepa continues: “We soon found what we wanted because the Mimaki range already included a GM-1 primer, which produces excellent adhesion and scratch resistance on many substrates. However, many substrates don’t actually require a primer. Polystyrene, polycarbonate, ABS and PVC will produce good results with only a surface cleaner. It is important though to test the adhesion and scratch resistance of materials first, before deciding whether and which pre-treatment is required.” Ron Vermeulen: “As soon as I felt confident about the adhesion of the UV ink in combination with the pre-treatment methods, we bought the printer.”
Conversion from analogue to digital
Stickerkoning was established in 1986 as a screen printing business, run from a residential garage. Trade increased and in 2002 an extension was built to accommodate further growth in screen printing. In 2006 Stickerkoning went digital. The Mimaki JV3 and CG cutting plotter, acquired in 2006, were exchanged in 2007 for the newly launched JV33. Reflecting further growth in sticker production another three JV33 printers followed within two years, as did the fast JV5, which was mainly intended for photographic images printed at high speed. Because Stickerkoning works with different technologies its approach is flexible. Ron Vermeulen: “The decision making process is ongoing, screen printing, digital or a combination thereof. In my opinion digital enhances screen printing as both technologies each have their own specific attributes and limitations. “
Modern marketing tools
Stickerkoning is a leading player in the market. In addition to ‘word of mouth’ advertising, search engine marketing generates a lot of new customers. Stickerkoning also uses radio advertising and will soon launch a monthly newsletter. Ron Vermeulen: “Our high profile, excellent promotional efforts, rapid delivery times and low prices are the key to our success. We employ a professional agency to deal with Google Adwords and were one of the first in the graphics industry to set up a website – that says it all about Stickerkoning.” This has resulted in a client list with many prominent names. Stickerkoning has produced material for a large number of local, regional, national and multinational companies across many different sectors, including football clubs, energy companies, television stations, road construction companies, retail, amusement parks, government authorities, industrial companies, etc.
Future developments with the UJF-3042
Stickerkoning/Pennenkoning intends to start printing two types of promotional products. Ron Vermeulen explains: “Because we want to produce efficiently we will start with lighters and pens. Once this process is up to speed I will probably purchase a second machine in the long term. I am aware that there are many opportunities with respect to the digital printing of a wide range of different promotional products and business gifts, but it is a staged process. Articles such as mobile phones, phone covers and laptops are the type of products that can be personalised in a fun way with this printer.”