2) Has this equipment helped improve your profitability? If so, how?
Bass: It’s a little too early to know for sure, but my instinct tells me yes. Some jobs we would have to outsource the finish work because we didn’t have the capabilities of the I-XL. Now we can keep that money in house. An increase in production speed, as well as offering our clients new finishing options, has already won us some new work that we wouldn’t have had a chance on before.
Williamson: It can be difficult to breakdown the color department revenue by print vs. cut, but much of the work we have we couldn’t do at all if we didn’t have our cutter. When we give tours it is typically the router that piques the most interest. The cutter saves tremendously in labor. One operator can run the cutter and the flatbed printer and produce finished pieces in a fraction of the time it would take to cut them by hand.
Garcia: We were able to lower our overhead because of the staff reduction with hand cutters. We now can cut aluminum, acrylic, foam sheets, matte boards and many other rigid substrates that have allowed us to offer new products and enter new markets.
Cusano: Absolutely! It has taken the smaller projects from hours of manual labor to minutes of machine time with greater precision and vastly improved quality. On the larger projects that we were sending out of house, we were obviously paying considerably more than our costs of now producing in house. Also, logistically, it became somewhat of a nightmare moving large pieces of material from one shop to another and back again. This saves us countless dollars in trucking, packing and material handling fees.
Ebert: We have been in the wide-format digital UV business for only a year now, so it is difficult to make a comparison at this time. An interesting piece of business that we really hadn’t thought much about when we installed the Zund have been those projects that we are cutting only, such as large display letters and shapes for retail that are cut from rigid substrates.
Merrick: Our packaging partners engage us to produce one-of-a-kind samples or small quantities of custom-printed marketing pieces. The M3000 gives us the capability to do these types of jobs very quickly and extremely economically. It is a win-win situation for our clients and us. We have also greatly reduced our own shipping costs by creating custom-sized shipping boxes using the M3000. Each day we make one-up, custom boxes to fit whatever job needs to be shipped. Previously, we purchased prefabricated boxes at $4 to 5 per box, and now we buy 4x8-foot sheets of corrugated cardboard for roughly $2, and quickly fabricate any box we need at a much lower cost.
3) What type of projects are you using them for?
Bass: We use the I-XL for several types of projects, including retail POS and POP and indoor and outdoor signage. One off “die-cut” mockups, which would not have been cost effective before when we had to outsource, are now done in house. In addition to direct to substrate large-format printing, we also produce digital offset printing. For short-run jobs, we use the I-XL for die cutting, which we also had to outsource in the past.
Williamson: We see a lot of demand for kiss-cut stickers. Customers love that they are not stuck with standard sizes/shapes and enormous quantities. One of our corporate customers had us print and cut out life-size photos of their executives. The pieces were a big success at a fundraising event. Employees could pay to have the figure attend meetings or visit their cubicle. We have also been creating custom boxes for clients. Our most popular substrate is probably brushed metal Dibond. We have created interior signage, as well as show pieces, to display customer projects in their conference rooms or lobbies. The pieces look beautiful when hung with standoffs.
Garcia: We are using the system to cut output from of our HP flatbed and grand-format latex printer, including acrylic panels for our interior design customers, aluminum prints for our B to C channel and mass retailers.