Webprint increases efficiency with Imaging Solutions
Future and growth with purePhoto quality
Ton Marsman, the founder and CEO of the company, has a simple strategy: "The customers are primarily interested in good image quality, and this we have to offer at best price." Proof that this formula works is confirmed by Web-print's annual growth rate of 200 %, expanded activities in Belgium, Germany and Denmark, and a newly founded sub-sidiary in the USA.
Webprint was founded on a misconception: Ton Marsman had an eventful career in electronic business, participated in the construction of the first PCs in 1979, later introduced the German trading company Conrad Electronics in the Netherlands, and then pioneered the introduction of electrostatic printers at a printing plant in the 90s, had little experience with real photographic paper. "We wanted to produce photos on electrostatic printers and were of the opinion that it would be a good idea to print the EXIF image data on the back." remembers Webprint's CEO. "But this was, frankly spoken, a catastrophe since 30 to 40 % of the orders were returned." Photo books produced on electrostatic printers look good at the first glimpse, but if you cut out a picture and to look at it on its own, you will be appalled by how bad the quality really is. The customers reacted negatively and were absolutely correct that they did not intend to accept such a quality."
Ton Marsman reacted quickly and bought a minilab first to print standard photos, and then also photo calendars and photo books on real photographic paper in Hengelo. But the time-consuming laminating of paper webs and the manual book binding postprocessing were too expensive in the long run. "In addition to quality an efficient workflow is the essential factor for a company's success," emphasizes Ton Marsman. "It is of minor importance to bargain with a paper supplier to receive a square meter for one or two cent less. But an efficient workflow, mostly fully automated and process-oriented, is the most important precondition to be able to offer the highest quality at the best price."
Today pages for photo book and calendars are produced on the photo printer widePrint from Imaging Solutions in sizes up to full A4, 21 x 29.7 cm (8" x 12") and processed with the paper processor VSP 25-12 directly connected to wide-Print. The folded photo book pages are processed to finished book blocks with a special lay-flat binding with the fastBook machine. Then they receive a cover with conventional book binding equipment. In the near future, production will be further automated with the Imaging Solutions device fastCCF from Imaging Solutions to quickly cut, crease, fold and press sheets for the book block. "As a result, we will need less manpower, become more competitive and increase quality all at the same time." comments Ton Marsman.
The decision for the Imaging Solutions systems was easy for Ton Marsman - his minilabs reached their capacity limits. With great experience in the development of individual solutions in his own company, he was planning to develop automation internally. "But then I discovered the solutions for the production of photo books and photo calendars on real photographic paper at the booth of Imaging Solutions at photokina 2006." Ton Marsman says. "We immediately met with the people to discuss the workflow." At about the same time, Fujiifilm launched Crystal Archive Album Paper with a thinner base especially developed for photo books. It was clear for Ton Marsman that there were no longer any technical barriers for his growth strategy. "With their inherent image quality, excellent flatness allowing even placing of a panoramic image on a double page without having the disturbing bump in the middle, the purePhoto books on real photographic paper are superior to elec-trostatic products in so many ways," stresses Ton Marsman. And Webprint highlights the value of these premium products before the book is even opened: all their photo book covers are produced on real photographic paper and then padded to further support the high-value impression of the purePhoto books.
Being on the road of success with sophisticated ideas
The business model of Webprint makes it easy for the cus-tomer - signing up is free of charge. Anyone registering at www.webprint.nl (non-Dutch citizens at www.photofun.com) can upload as many images he or she likes. "There is no charge for this at all, we store images for life." Ton Marsman explains, "For us, it is important first of all to have many images on our servers. Then we can motivate the customers to do something with the images, for example photo prints, photo books or calendars in real purePhoto quality." Doing this, Webprint's CEO has a modest goal "We would like to earn one cent on average with one processing of each image."
The successful business model has made major companies curious and therefore some leading photo communities and trading companies are Webprint's customers. This is further fuelled by the fact that within four years the company has grown from its "garage size" of only 16 square meters to a plant with 1,500 square meters production area. By this September, further expansion to a nearby production plant of the size of a football field is expected to be completed. Ton Marsman has ambitious goals: "This new production plant is not oversized: in 2011 we would like to have 2.5 per cent of the European photo market, process around 500 million pictures and reach a turnover of 100 million Euro with 70 employees. Of course to realize this plan, we would need some more purePhoto production lines from Imaging Solutions."
Imaging Solutions AG
Imaging Solutions AG has more than 60 employees, most of them work in research and development. Starting from its core competency in digital high-speed printing and scanning systems, the company focuses on the innovative development of technologically leading and practice-proven digital production solutions for the production of prints and value added photo products on true photo paper. Special emphasis is placed on new concepts for the production of purePhoto products such as photo books and photo calendars. With its newest subsidiary, IPS Imaging Postprocessing Solutions GmbH, the company has expanded its previous product portfolio by adding fully automated and highly efficient postprocessing solutions. Imaging Solutions is today the market leader with its modular and robust products in the field of reliable high-speed systems for the photofinishing industry and supplies customers all over the world. The purePhoto brand is a quality seal for photo books and other digital print products on real photo paper. purePhoto products are successfully being marketed by photo service providers in Belgium, China, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Switzerland and the USA, and will in future also be available in other countries.