Parrott Printing Finds Business "Game Changer"
For Parrott Printing, the Digitech Trufire LT/X2 has proven to be a "game changer" for the operation, noted John Parrott, current VP of the family-owned print shop based in Knoxville, Tenn. He sat down with Wide-format Impressions recently to talk about why he installed the machine, and how it has impacted his business.
When did you invest in the Digitech TrufireLTx2? What other equipment are you running in your operation?
Digitech installed the last week of August, and we were in full production first week of September. We currently run two older HP FB flatbeds, an HP Latex, a Colex cutter, and various screen printing and finishing presses.
What drew you to this press, in particular?
Initially it was the speed I saw in a YouTube video, but I was skeptical as I had never heard of them. I placed a call to their office in San Antonio, and they transferred me to the founder/owner Patric Coldeway. After talking, I found that we both were on the same page as to what was important. I was looking for a machine that could match our screen printing speeds without sacrificing color, quality, or ink adhesion. He assured me the Trufire could step up to the plate - and it did.
In addition to the speed of the machine, I found that Digitech did not cut any corners. When building this machine, they wanted to keep it simple and always had the operator in mind. I looked at a lot of other printers that were similar, but they were all missing minor details that I felt like Digitech addressed. From their proprietary software to offering an auto-unloader, they really have production in mind. It all flows so seamlessly together.
What types of applications do you consider your "bread and butter"? How will this press help you serve that segment better?
A big portion of our business is political/real estate signs and Point of Purchase. This machine excels in those departments. We have traditionally run a mix bag of screen, digital, and a combination to achieve the price, quality, and lead times needed. We are shifting a very large portion of this to the TruFire. It has helped us reduce lead-times, waste, and labor. Large one-color jobs will remain being screen printed.
Does this press open up any additional applications you couldn't offer previously? If so, what are they?
It does. With a true flatbed versus our older hybrid machines, we are more comfortable going after odd jobs that can bring in larger margins. With perfect registration and the ability to nest odd materials in jigs, we can print a lot of non traditional items. This works well with our screen printing department, as we are all the time getting calls to print on items that other shops are not capable of.
Will this press help you capture new customers, or will it mostly be targeted toward better serving existing customers? Why?
The speed of this machine paired with low operating costs will allow us to play ball with traditional bids that have been out of our reach. We have several bids a year that we have never been comfortable taking on due to the volume and turnaround times. I am fully confident with this machine that we can win those bids and meet the deadlines.
You mentioned great support - can you walk me through the installation/service/support you've received, and what sets it apart from other presses you've had?
Installation was great. They sent two techs for a week to setup the machine and fully train our team. They went over everything we could possibly need. Digitech’s business model is to train the customer to be their own technician. They will teach you everything you need to know (head replacement, head to head calibration, replacing pumps, filters, etc.). They have made everything very simple and easy to access. The more time you are down, the less ink they are selling which in turn is less money in their pocket. They want you running full speed because that benefits the both of us.
After about 45 days, they sent two different techs back for a follow up visit to make sure we were happy. The reason they sent two different is they want us to meet as many of their techs as we can. We have a direct line to all of their techs cellphones which is priceless. I am so used to calling an automated number, opening a case, and waiting on a call back. Those days are gone, we have a direct line to five different techs. They have been incredible.
You also mentioned quality/ink adhesion - how is this press different from others you've used, and what types of applications does this open up for your company?
The ink adhesion is much stronger than other machines we tested. We are able to print on non digital grade acrylic without any adhesion promoters. This was a big deal as we screen print a lot of acrylic and could not afford to go to a more expensive digital grade acrylic when making the shift. We just finished a job of 5,000 pieces of acrylic, and only lost 10 pieces over the whole job (due to setup). That is pretty insane.
We have had a lot adhesion issues with our HP printers, mainly on corrugated. You literally cannot remove the ink off corrugated with Digitech ink. No flaking, chipping, etc.
What advice would you give to other printers about choosing a new press, and why to go with this one?
The best advice I can give is kick the tires on several machines. There is no machine that does everything, find the machine that does what you need it to do best. We print pallets of corrugated, styrene, and pvc. This machine is unstoppable on those materials.
There are a lot of great companies out there making similar machines, we found that Digitech took the extra steps that we were looking for to make our day to day operations easier. We are so happy that we went with them and hope other people find similar results.