Thirty-five years ago Mighty Mouse produced plates, working from films and supplying litho printers. With the rise of computer to plate, like many retro companies, the Loughton business invested in digital printing, buying an Indigo from the same faces that had previously sold report technology. It has moved on again, finding that Ricoh could offer the quality needed at a much lower cost of ownership.
Through this it has built a speciality in wedding stationery working with hotels that are increasingly the venue for the ceremony as well as the breakfast that follows. The printer creates a bespoke log in page, branded to each venue, for each bride to select the style of the stationery for the big day.
“We do the stationery, the seating plans, orders of service for 350 brides a year, and everything at the highest quality,” says Derek Evans. “And we realised this approach could be a way to promote wallpaper printing.”
The quest took the company into lengthy research on which machines and which technology would be best. Canon, Mimaki, Roland DG were looked at. “We didn’t want to go solvent,” he says. “But were introduced to the idea of eco-solvent. That’s when we looked at Epson.”
It also had a good close look at HP Latex, visiting the European headquarters in Barcelona. “We looked hard at it, ran the tests. HP was brilliant and very cost effective, but when it came to it this HP technology in our opinion was not the machine for really high quality photographic work,” he says.
Epson on the other hand fitted like a glove. The samples met expectations and visits to the Epson premises in Hemel Hempstead provided further reassurance. In October Mighty Mouse installed its first SC machine.
The target is to work with the same kinds of people that are organising weddings and who also might be involved in interior design. It has a been working on decorating rooms for the hotels it already knows, including the bridal suite.
Each project begins with visualisation of the room, taking photos and working this in Photoshop and CAD software to create a digital version of the final room. The artwork can be printed specific to that room.
It is also teaming up with designers, providing a dozen samples of their papers so they can pitch to architects for new build projects. “Orders have been placed as a result of this,” says Evans.
However, there is a long gestation on such jobs as the design is agreed before the building has started in many cases. On the other hand the rewards can be great. Wallpaper at this end of the market is expensive, whether printed bespoke or from the upper echelon of the more traditional designer wallpaper sector.
Mighty Mouse has now engaged a marketing team to contact as many interior designers, architects and others involved in specifying this type of work as can be found to spread the word.
The company is using Digimura products. It is not the cheapest of substrates, but is renowned for its dimensional stability. For high quality photo murals, the precision of matching each drop is crucial. “When there is a drop between 2-4 metres, you simply cannot afford to have mismatches at the bottom when the edges are aligned at the top because the material has moved during printing,” Evans explains.
Likewise colour has to be absolutely consistent, which means a machine that does not run too low on any ink during the print stage. If something like this has occurred part way into the roll, it may not be noticed until the wallpaper is applied.
The care and attention will stand Mighty Mouse in good stead. It has decorated its own offices with self produced wallpapers and this has sparked conversations with customers that come into the business and ask how the striking effect is achieved. It has also led to some comments to the effect that people have found that there were match up issues when they tried inkjet printed wallpaper. He is determined that Mighty Mouse customers will be satisfied. And it has led to other work. One customer ordered not just the wall covering for his stand at a classic car exhibition, but also the graphics for the anti slip flooring on the stand. “We wouldn’t have been doing that without the Epson,” he says.