High imaging quality and high speed significantly reduce costs in small-lot production: Hikousen Network

I would like to reduce operating costs while increasing productivity compared to conventional methods.
We are transferring from a two-machine setup of JV300 and M-64s to a single JV330-160, aiming not only for cost reduction but also for space savings and increased productivity.

Product installed

A case study of Hikousen Network, which has installed the JV330-160, was published in the sign industry magazine “Kanbankeiei” , Vol. 27 (June 2023 issue).

The following is the published article in its original form.

High imaging quality and high speed significantly reduce costs in small-lot production.
- Leading exhibition balloon expert talks about the advantages of the JV330-160 -

President Mizuki Takita

President Mizuki Takita

Decorative balloons are used at exhibitions, various events, and as a part of in-store POP to add color to the space. Hikousen Network that handles the entire process from production, sales, rental, and installation of these balloons is Airship, headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo.

Since its founding in 1992, the company has established itself as a specialist in the production of advertising balloons and airships. In 1998, they expanded its business to include indoor exhibitions, and in addition, it developed a more low-cost decorative balloon rental business ahead of its competitors, steadily expanding its market share through various initiatives.

It is surprising that the company now covers about 60% of the balloon demand for events held at major exhibition halls in the Kanto region, such as Tokyo Big Sight, Pacifico Yokohama, and Makuhari Messe. The most seen arch-shaped balloon decorations and original balloons in the shape of the company's image characters or main items are available. They are also developing original products such as the "Silloon," which combines a panel sign and balloons, and the "Crystal Balloon," which creates a special space by diffuse reflection of internally illuminated LEDs. In recent They are always looking for challenges outside the norm, such as focusing on the balloon goods business and continues to make proposals that clients will never get tired of.

Hikousen Network handles a variety of original balloon products, such as the "Silloon," which has an output panel inside the balloon, and the "Crystal Balloon," which even expresses the elaborate shape of the moon by means of an internally illuminated LED, are just a few examples.

Hikousen Network handles a variety of original balloon products, such as the "Silloon," which has an output panel inside the balloon, and the "Crystal Balloon," which even expresses the elaborate shape of the moon by means of an internally illuminated LED, are just a few examples.

Their production team is supported by Mimaki Engineering's JV330-160 printer with eco-solvent ink. The company says it has been helped many times by the printer's high functionality, which combines output speed and high image quality that were not available in previous models.

However, that is not the only reason for choosing the machine. "The deciding factor was the running cost," says President Mizuki Takita. What was the true intention of that word of his? Through this interview, we asked him to explain the real attractiveness of the "JV330-160."

Installation scene of JV330-160

Installation scene of JV330-160

― First of all, please tell us how the JV330-160 was introduced.

We were looking for a machine that would replace our previous "JV300-130" machine, which had been in operation since 2016, and would increase productivity while reducing running costs more. At that time, Mimaki recommended the "JV330-160" to us. Originally, the JV300-160 was used in combination with OKI's ColorPainter M-64s. The JV300 had excellent color reproduction, while the M-64s had superior productivity, which were opposite characteristics. I had been using them for different purposes, but when I decided to replace them, I thought it would be better to consolidate them into a single unit. The JV330-160 is a high-quality printer with an advanced design and an output speed of 21.0m²/h in standard mode when equipped with four colors. The JV330-160 was the perfect fit.

― Why were running costs so important to you?

The company was also looking for a new challenge. However, to realize this business, it is necessary to establish a production system that can output small quantities efficiently, including test samples for product development. Therefore, we are looking for a machine that can achieve higher speeds than conventional machines while keeping current costs as low as possible.

― With the variety of machines available these days, such as UV and water-based resin inks, is there any reason why you chose a machine with low-solvent ink?

In terms of printing on balloons, specifically on soft PVC materials like tarpaulins, solvent inks are the most suitable. UV and water-based resin inks, due to their characteristic of sitting on the surface, have a risk of compromising the stretchability of the balloon.

On the other hand, if the solvent used allows for ink penetration, there is no need to worry. Additionally, with Mimaki's "SS21" ink, which achieves high-definition without a granular texture, it becomes possible to achieve fine color expression resembling artwork or photographs. As our company handles numerous projects from clients who place a strong emphasis on color and other aspects, such as their corporate mascots, we are convinced that the 330 Series will continue to be an indispensable machine for us.

― How was the operability when actually put into operation?

The reputation I heard was not deceiving at all, as the 330 Series is capable of achieving vibrant colors and high speed, which I am extremely satisfied with. The significant improvement in ink accuracy allows for even more precise color representation compared to previous models, and the actual printing speed has evolved to surpass the M-64s. Now, with just this one machine, we can handle not only soft PVC but also a wide range of output, including cross-media for banners and synthetic papers made from olefin. We rely on it greatly.

From a cost perspective as well, it has delivered the expected results. With the adoption of the 2L high-capacity ink packs, the ink unit cost has decreased, and we greatly appreciate the significantly reduced frequency of ink replacements. Although it is an estimate, it is likely that we have achieved cost savings of at least 15% or more overall.

― If you have any requests or suggestions for Mimaki, please let me know.

I understand. It's not just flattery, but we genuinely have very few requests or complaints (lol). Mimaki has been very supportive during the machine selection process, and even after the implementation, they regularly visit for machine checks and hear our feedback, even when there are no issues at all. Our operators have expressed their gratitude, saying, "Whenever we have questions and call for assistance, they come immediately, and we greatly appreciate it."

In the future, if we need to further expand our output capabilities and launch new business ventures, we are considering adding the 330 Series to our fleet. If anyone is hesitant about implementation, I would wholeheartedly recommend it.

― If there are any features you would like to utilize in the future, please let me know.

The feature called "Media Changer" that allows us to mount up to three rolls of multiple media simultaneously and easily switch between them. However, we haven't fully utilized this feature yet, so we are actively exploring better ways to use it and want to make the most of it. In the future, we also want to focus more on the merchandise business and expand our range of original products, including "Silloon". In that regard, we believe that the role played by the JV330-160 is significant.

User profile

  • NameHikousen Net Work Ltd.
  • IndustryProduction, sales and implementation of original balloons. Rental balloons. Various measurements using balloons. Decorations using balloons and decor balloons, etc. Others
  • AddressHoyo Building No.2 1F, 1-10-6 Nishi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, Japan
  • Phone number+81-3-5759-3450
  • URLhttp://www.hikousen-net.co.jp/

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