Case study of the introduction of UJF-7151 plusII by Nakagawa Kamiso Inc. was featured in the "Special Inkjet Issue" of the printing industry magazine "Printing Journal."
The following is the published article in its original form.
New challenge for a long-standing company, new branding through in-house product development
In business for 148 years, the Kyoto-based printing company Nakagawa Kamiso Inc. (Head office: Shimogyo-ku Shijo-dori, Abura-no-koji Higashi-iru Kasaboko-cho 49, Kyoto; President-Director: Kenji Nakagawa), introduced a Mimaki "UJF-7151 plusII" flatbed UV-LED inkjet printer in January this year. The printer is intended as a device to facilitate the in-house development of non-paper deliverable products, and to create package samples. With an eye on the BtoB market segment, Nakagawa Kamiso is utilizing the high definition granularity-free image quality of the new printer as a weapon to venture into the field of art panels and reproductions, also embarking on its new branding scheme as a "printing company doing more than just paper work."
Practicing "Management by Wisdom" as seen only in Kyoto
Nakagawa Kamiso Inc. was founded in 1874. Using the art of so-called "woodblock printing," the company has grown as a "paper products business" supplying paper wrapping for kimono and obi (tatoshi) to the numerous kimono wholesalers in the renowned Muromachi-suji textile district of Kyoto, at the same time dealing in ledger forms such as daifuku-cho (account books) and sage-fuda (cloth tags).
After World War II, Nakagawa Kamiso shifted its focus to package printing after receiving orders for "DARUMA Thread" brand boxes (Yokota Co., Ltd., Chuo-ku, Osaka), and even today, approximately 60% of the company’s total sales come from package printing, mainly for textile and tourism demand (souvenirs, etc.).
The company is a member of the "the Kyoto Company Century Club," an association of long-standing firms of Kyoto, established to effectively utilize unique management assets (secrets for business continuity and succession) held by such establishments. As the sixth generation president of a 148-year old printing business, Mr. Nakagawa practices "Management by Wisdom" as seen only within the historic city of Kyoto. He describes the strengths of the company as: "In our long history of involvement in product wrapping and packaging, we made numerous achievements and as many failures, repeatedly. We are not an 'ONLY ONE COMPANY,' but the production know-how based on our experiences is our most important management asset and our greatest strength." While materials and technologies contingent to the products they handle are changing dramatically, the basic concept of "giving form" to customers' opinions taking advantage of the wisdom of their predecessors remains unchanged. This management stance is the very strength of the branding of Kyoto-based companies. Recent capital investment made by the company is an extension of this management stance.
In-house development of products outside of paper media
Currently equipped with full-size offset printing presses and toner POD machines, Nakagawa Kamiso Inc. decided to invest in inkjet technology reflecting its mission to "develop home-grown products as a printing company," following suit of the attempts for "business transformation" repeated over the 148-year history of the company.
President Nakagawa elaborates: "Most of our products are indirect material, and we didn’t have anything we could call our own until now. As an action against the challenging COVID-19 pandemic, we started selling our own stationery products on the Internet. However, in the process, our planners suggested -- there are limits to things we can do with paper. So, we needed something that could print on materials other than paper to expand our product line."
The company had long been considering "an approach to materials that toner POD machines cannot handle." Inkjet printers were regarded to be the primary prospect in the research conducted for this purpose. With a view to utilize business restructuring subsidies, the company began full-fledged consideration of capital investment, encouraged by the planning department.
The desirable printer was selected upon evaluating its "suitability for printing on materials other than paper," and the "print size suitable for creating package samples."
"In creating package samples, it would be impractical if the printer cannot output at least B2-sized prints. As our offset printing presses are only capable of processing up to Kikuzen-ban (medium octavo: 636×939mm), we wouldn’t be able to go into mass-production if we made samples with a printer that could output larger prints. So, we had to narrow down the list to flatbed printers accommodating thick paper of the corresponding size," says President Nakagawa.
Ultimately, the flatbed UV-LED inkjet Mimaki printer "UJF-7151 plusII" was selected as the product clearing all the requirements. The printer was introduced to the company head office in January 2022, and has started operation on a commercial basis since February.
High- Performance Compact UV Flatbed Printer
"UJF-7151 plusII" is a high-performance model of compact UV flatbed printer incorporating new expression capabilities for the color gloss function. The model features high-definition printing at 1800 dpi, granularity-free image quality by "MFD2 (Mimaki Fine Diffusion2)," and automated workpiece transfer function with "MDL (Mimaki Device Language) commands." Print head configuration has been expanded from six heads of the previous models to eight, providing a speed-oriented four-color double (4 colors x 2) output in the four-color configuration, and enables a more subtle color expression in the six-color configuration that includes Lc and Lm. The unit newly introduced to Nakagawa Kamiso Inc. is a six-color unit consisting of CMYK + Lc + Lm + White + Primer.
Although not utilized by the company due to the ink used, an interesting feature of the printer is the "color gloss function." Conventional UV printers cure the ink dispensed from print heads instantly, preventing the ink coating from smoothing out, resulting in a matte textured expression. Although limited to color inks only, the color gloss function achieves glossy texture of the output by allowing the dispensed ink to cure over time until the ink is smoothed out to the point where it does not bleed by adjusting the mode of UV irradiation. This creates a distinctive glossy texture and detail differing from the effect achieved when using clear ink.
To improve image quality, "UJF-7151 plusII" is compatible with "Mimaki Fine Diffusion2 (MFD2)", precisely controlling the position of dot impact. The newly adopted 1800 dpi print mode is also a major feature of the new printer, allowing users to experience a higher definition quality with less graininess and color irregularities.
The new "MFD2" technology combines both error diffusion and dither pattern processing methods in the half-toning process. Together, the 1800 dpi resolution and "MFD2" dramatically improves the reproducibility of fine lines.
Highly appraised quality art panels
Since the purpose of the investment in new printer was to "take on the challenge of business reform" and not "application driven," the Nakagawa Kamiso Planning Department repeatedly experimented the suitability of printing on a variety of formats, testing the ink adhesion on various surfaces.
"UJF-7151 plusII" accommodates media up to 15.3 cm in thickness, allowing direct printing on assembled boxes, packages, and paper bags. According to President Nakagawa, the company currently sells small products such as badges and magnets intended for "private clientele only" on the "Creema" web-marketplace (https://www.creema.jp/creator/4641675). As a future prospect of business development, the company intends to develop the BtoB market.
As a foothold to this segment, the company started marketing art panels (https://minne.com/@e-kamiso) on the "minne" online store creation service. As previously mentioned, "UJF-7151 plusII" features high-definition printing at 1800 dpi and granularity-free image quality owing to the adoption of MFD2. The resulting image quality is highly appraised in the field of art panels and reproductions. President Nakagawa commented: "The quality and functionality of the UJF-7151 plusII far exceeded our expectations, and we can say it is a printer that inspires our staff to be creative and bold enough to take on new challenges. I expect the accumulation of expertise in post-processing to be our next assignment."
In the future, Nakagawa Kamiso intends to approach the BtoB business, actively participating in various exhibitions to develop new sales channels slightly different from the printing business, and to promote its branding as a "printing company doing more than just paper work."
"We’d like to create surprising products that make printing companies wonder, "How did they make this?" We have high expectations for the UJF-7151 plusII as an output device for this purpose." (President Nakagawa)
- NameNAKAGAWA KAMISO INC.
- IndustryPlanning and design of commercial printing, package manufacturing, card printing
- Address Shimogyo-ku Shijo-dori, Abura-no-koji Higashi-iru Kasaboko-cho 49, Kyoto, Japan
- Phone number+81-75-241-3121