As the economy continues to flounder, companies continue to look for additional ways to save money, while trying to remain competitive in their respective fields. Work staffs have been pushed to the limits as some companies try to survive with the “doing more with less” mentality. Wide-format print providers have increasingly turned to automation as a way to improve efficiency and profitability. Cutting systems and routers are an important piece of the profitability equation. Wide-Format Imaging contacted a variety of print providers to find out how shops are integrating them into their workflows.
1) How has purchasing a wide-format cutting system and router helped your workflow?
Brian Bass, owner, Bass Print Solutions, Springfield, MO: The cutting system has helped us to be more competitive on higher quantity print direct to substrate jobs. For example, we recently reproduced a job that we had done before we had the I-Cut Kongsberg I-XL system. This job was print direct to substrate two sides and trim out in an odd shape. The first time we ran this job we had approximately eight hours in finishing time. When we did the job the second time, utilizing the I-XL, we cut that time to two hours.
Emily Williamson, president, Franklin Imaging, Columbus, OH: The router has allowed us to choose between a “print then cut” workflow or a “cut then print” workflow. For most jobs, it makes sense to print first then cut, but there are some jobs where the opposite is true. For example, we run truck magnets for a large company and have found that it’s much faster to have the pieces cut first, and then they can be laid out on a metal template to be printed. The weight of the roll would make it quite cumbersome to print first. In this application it is enormously helpful to have the roll feed option on our cutter. The cutter continues to advance while it cuts, so the operator stands at the end of the machine and grabs the magnets after they are cut. The cutter has also made it possible for us to run volume jobs through our shop. We would never be able to keep up if we were cutting pieces by hand.
Joseph L. Garcia, CEO/president, New Era, Austin, TX: Our workflow has improved significantly. Our cutting system has enabled us to completely eliminate hand cutting. We were hand cutting 100 percent of our output and now hand cut almost nothing. There were three people hand cutting and now there is one person running the Zund G3.
Frank Cusano, operations manager, Vernon Display Graphics, Carlstadt, NJ: Before we got our system, we had been either hand routing our smaller projects or farming out some of the larger projects to local houses. It is absolutely amazing how much smoother our projects are being turned out with less pain and heightened productivity. Since its installation, it has been one of the most productive pieces of equipment in the house running almost all day, every day, over multiple shifts. It still blows my mind how we had operated in the past without it.
Greg Ebert, prepress manager, The Garvey Group, Niles, IL: I can’t imagine having a wide-format solution without a cutting system in place. The press runs are typically under 150 sheets on any given form, with quantities being an average of 20 to 50 sheets. These jobs would be difficult, if not impossible, to produce within a deadline if we would have to outsource cutting, and are impractical for getting a die made for our die cutter. The cutting processes that we employ for various substrates vary greatly, so that the ability to go from one job to the next quickly using different modules on our Zund is an advantage.
David Merrick, president, BIGraphics, Nashua, NH: The M3000 Flatbed Cutting System from Gerber Scientific Products added capacity to our finishing department without having to add staff. Its production capacity is the equivalent of an additional staff member, so it allows us to generate more jobs with the same number of employees and it alleviates the physical strain that cutting by hand can cause BIGraphic’s staff.