Stratford Photo Group members were invited to visit LumeJet, on Tuesday 7th November 2017. LumeJet are a young company based in Whitley, Coventry. They opened the factory only 2 years ago, after a period of 15 years development of a new way of printing digital images.
Since digital took off, the main way of getting images printed was via inkjet systems, where coloured inks are sprayed, with great accuracy, onto specially formulated papers. There are a number of issues with this process, including the cost of inks/papers and the limitation in how small the dots can be made, to increase the resolution and fine detail of the print.
The process and technology that LumeJet have developed turns the process on its head and goes back to the days of printing on photographic paper processed in chemicals. This is a well understood, stable and cost effective process.
LumeJet’s L.Type print process recreates the care, personal attention and quality of the traditional darkroom experience for the modern age. Created with their unique, patented photonic technology, the L.Type print is ultra-high-resolution 400 PPI (Pixels Per Inch) true continuous tone, considered to be better than 4,000 dpi quality from an ink-based printer. This allows them to achieve images that truly show no digital patterning at all.
We were welcomed by Dr Trevor Elworthy, the founder and managing director of the company. He explained the various stages of development the technology had gone through. Starting with the design of the printhead, which takes a digital image, converts it to RGB light, and it then "fires" it with great accuracy onto photographic paper. Having successfully productionised the printhead, the next challenge was to build the print machine which would house it. This brought significant new engineering problems, to ensure that the printhead could be moved across the photographic paper with micron precision. All within a tightly controlled climate.
Greg, the financial director, talked about the significant investment that had gone into developing the technology and getting to the stage where they now had a complete print facility, able to take digital images and output high quality prints, to a standard significantly higher than any other system, at a reasonable price. He talked about the business case and the future marketing of the products. They are marketing it as a high end product where receiving your print or photobook is an event to be anticipated, similar to the experience of opening an iPhone® box.
We then got to see the immaculately clean production environment, where Jordan demonstrated how the LumeJet technology was used to produce prints and photobooks in a variety of sizes, but all at outstanding quality and attention to detail.
Trevor then gave us an insight into some of their future technology plans, including details not yet released, of their next generation printhead.
Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for, Suveena Bali presented each attendee with a free A3 print, of an image they had submitted in advance, on Fuji DPII Matte stock paper. Wow! Everyone was genuinely impressed with the quality, fine detail and colour accuracy in the prints. It was definitely a "wonderful experience".
Overall SPG members were privileged to visit LumeJet and enjoyed a brilliant evening. We would like to thank the LumeJet team for their hospitality and generosity.
We wish them every success for the future.
General views of the factory during our group visit by Michael Robertson-Smith.