Sharpe Co. Edges Out Competition with EFI VUTEk Hybrid Solutions

Electronics For Imaging reported that Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based print provider Sharpe Co. has installed EFI VUTEk h3 and VUTEk 32h superwide-format hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll UV LED inkjet printers. The two new printers, which replace a previous pair of VUTEk hybrid printers at the company, will help Sharpe Co. maintain its competitive edge with state-of-the-art technology and meet growing customer demand. 

“Our technology needed to be updated,” says Sharpe Co. Director of Operations Jeremy Mitchell. “We opted to invest in the new VUTEk technology to keep us in the game and maintain the highest quality we can provide to our clients.”

New technology helps a growing business enter new markets 

Sharpe Co.’s business has flourished in recent years, evolving to meet demands for new products and address booming display graphics opportunities in fast-growing markets. The company’s capabilities span from graphics for architectural and engineering applications to wide-format color production for the retail, financial and healthcare industries. While the business pivoted in 2020 to produce custom PPE products for education, health care, and other industries, most recently it has been expanding to meet growing demand in new construction. Providing exceptional customer service and quality product remains the foundation of the business, according to Mitchell. 

The superwide EFI VUTEk h3 hybrid roll-to-roll/flatbed LED inkjet printing platform will help Sharpe Co. fulfill increased demand for better quality and faster production. Printing at speeds of up to 74 boards per hour, and capable of quickly switching between substrates up to 126 inches wide while using “cool cure” LED technology, the printer enables quick job turnarounds without compromising quality for any variety of runs. The printer features eight-color printing, or four-color printing in an optional CMYK x 2 configuration, plus white ink, and can perform multi-layer printing with up to nine layers.

The VUTEk h3 printer’s fast, high-quality production capabilities will be key for the business, along with the advantage of EFI service, according to Mitchell. “With many other vendors, that quality of service wasn’t going to be there,” he stated. “We have so much movement on the floor with our customers. We need to be dialed in with a moment’s notice.”

Printing at speeds up to 60 boards per hour, Sharpe Co.’s new VUTEk 32h hybrid printer is a 126"-wide LED inkjet device that is ideal for print businesses looking to grow their presence in higher-volume superwide-format production. The VUTEk 32h printer delivers premium-quality imaging with eight colors plus white and multi-layer printing, and optional clear ink for spot, flood, and unique applications. 

Both printers feature UltraDrop Technology with 7-picoliter grayscale imaging to deliver high apparent resolution and high-definition print quality; outstanding smoothness in shadows, gradients, and transitions; and superb text quality down to three-point sizes. The advanced UV LED curing technology on both machines extends the range of supported substrates, lowers operating costs, and is a more environmentally friendly solution, with low VOC emissions, lower energy consumption, and less waste and consumables compared with traditional UV or latex printers.

Sharpe Co.’s newly installed printers use EFI Fiery proServer digital front ends (DFEs) with FAST RIP and enhanced color management and screening features, ensuring workflow efficiencies, job data collection, and color consistency. The printers also are available with the award-winning EFI IQ — a suite of cloud and mobile applications that capture and make production data readily available in a form that is easy to use and understand. EFI IQ lets users connect their people, processes, and print devices, so they can make better data-driven decisions to improve ROI, minimize cost, maximize profit and boost revenue.

“Our continued partnership with Sharpe Co. represents everything EFI strives for in our customer experience,” says Ken Hanulec, VP of worldwide marketing, EFI. “We’re excited for this next investment to elevate the team’s production floor and drive even more growth for the business. Leveraging our VUTEk technology’s exceptional quality and speed will extend the impressive legacy the business has already built in the market.”