Supporting customers with transparency and honesty:
it is possible, and it pays off
(quote by Ireneo Lazzari, CEO of Fronteretro)
As a former screen printer, I am fascinated by “quality printing”. As a digital printer, I’m hungry for new technologies that allow me to offer my customers products that are one step ahead of what is already being seen in the market.
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Fronteretro was in need of a productive dye-sublimation textile printer that could meet superwide format requirements. At the same time, it had to be simple to use and operate, compact, and they required that the entire start to finish process is could be completed within a minimal amount of space.
The most well-known dye-sub printer manufacturers offer high-quality printers, but they usually require a considerable amount of space and up front financial investment. They also require a large investment
in supporting technology, ongoing maintenance, and energy consumption (compared to a printer with an external calendar).
ATPColor OneTex 3300 effectively met all Fronteretro requirements. It is a high quality printer manufactured in Italy. It’s a product engineered from excellent technical R&D with an innovative patented in-line sublimation technology that significantly reduces the footprint as it is a single machine rather than two pieces of equipment. This also reduces the upfront expense and energy consumption.
Why Fronteretro chose ATPColor OneTex 3300
- Allows optimal space management: with an in-line calender and a 3.3-meter print area, it occupies a fraction of the space needed for a 3.3-meter printer with an external calender.
- Its design makes it easy to use even without experience and it offers a simple workflow due to the in-line calender.
- The 3.3-meter width allows for a wide variety of project types and fast, high volume production.
- The in-line calender means the published printing speed (up to 2475 ft2/h at two passes) for a finished print as it doesn’t have to consider the additional time it takes for an external calender to sublimate the print to fabric.
“We can not expect things to change if we keep doing the same things", Albert Einstein. A crisis is the greatest blessing for people and nations because a crisis brings progress. It is in the crisis that inventiveness, discoveries, and great strategies arise. These sentiments accurately reflects the spirit of Ireneo Lazzari, during his 25 years of running Fronteretro.
Our conversation with him starts with this topic, at the end of a year that has without a doubt been challenging for everyone, 2020: “Of course a crisis forces new ideas. This period reminds me of another one: it was 1995, and we had a challenge − my screen printing business specialized in promotional items, which was a crowded field. So I decided to shift focus into an up and coming technology: digital printing.”
It was a bold choice. We remember it well, that feeling of enthusiasm and blind confidence in this new technology that promised miracles. “But miracles did not occur, on the contrary. The limitations were enormous, and investing in an unreliable printer − at that time there were many − could mean the failure of the company: all done, go home,” recalls Lazzari. “There were very few companies willing to gamble on digital: in Italy, we could practically count them on one hand.”
During crises, you can’t relax
The market, however, had pressing needs: to be able to produce small and very small runs, eliminating start-up costs. And so Lazzari invested in a Xeikon printer and highly qualified personnel to run it and, if necessary, troubleshoot it. He took a machine designed for commercial and business printing and for 15 years, used it to produce paper displays among other things. He got creative and “hacked it” making it into a more versatile piece of equipment that could now print thick paper, up to cardboard as well as polyester.
Following dozens of inventions made “by mistake”, one of Fronteretro’s flagship products was born from a blunder. By printing translucent polyester, the operator forgot to turn off the Xeikon setting that allows printing on both sides of the material simultaneously. However, the result was anything but a mistake: the colors were exceptionally bright, and the double-sided printing gave a gorgeous depth effect to the image. Hence the name Fronteretro (which translates to “Duplex” in English).
Our customers don’t shape our business: rather, our customers look to us to help them innovate, and allow our direction to shape their requests
Their first meeting with ATPColor took place at FESPA, in 2017 in Hamburg. “We knew it was an Italian company, but nothing more: at that time it was not a very well-known name. Until that meeting, we were only researching the most well known brands. But we couldn’t find anything that was right for us,” explains Lazzari. “At the trade show, we met some of the staff from ATPColor, and, what stood out was when we saw the OneTex in action.” A few weeks later, Lazzari was in Senago (the headquarters, close to Milan) doing all the machine tests with one of his technicians. “We were impressed by the amount of research and innovation: it’s difficult to find such expertise even in much larger companies.” ATPColor passed all of their tests, and since 2017 Fronteretro has been a proud customer and ambassador of ATPColor.
“With the OneTex 3300 we have finally managed to realize production on pieces that were previously very difficult, while optimizing production time and maximizing space in the company,” says Lazzari, who has just purchased his fifth building, due to his steadily growing business.
“Our customers work in well-defined markets: we are strong in retail, with a focus in the sports sector. Our customers are big names like Asics, Gore-Tex, Michelin, new Balance, Puma, rossignol, as well as amadori, Conad, Continental, Microsoft, Mondadori, Yamaha, and many others. They are clients who trust our honesty and transparency, who follow Fronteretro even with experimental projects that draw inspiration from the world of special effects.
Textiles printed with the OneTex 3300 are made into many things, but one of the most popular applications are backdrops for stores and store windows with bright colors and a natural look. Fronteretro’s Light-TEX is renowned for its dramatic appearance and evocative power: “Our customers are interested in creativity, flexibility, and problem-solving. The quality of the products is never taken for granted. There is no room for error, so we look for technology partners that allow us to work without worrying about the process. ATPColor is one of them,” comments Lazzari.