Ever since it was founded in 1979 in Dublin, CA, AMP Printing, Inc.’s owner and president Jeff Main has understood that to keep pace with market demands for improved print quality, faster turnaround times, and increasingly competitive pricing, he would need to provide his hands-on management team and highly-skilled printers with access to the latest tools and technologies. He also realized that technology investments at the 70,000-sq.-ft.-facility needed to be well-timed and astutely-made in order to grow the business without compromising profit margins or revenues.
About eight months ago, within a two week period, the company invested in a complete digital grand format system, consisting of roll-fed and flatbed digital presses, finishing and laminating equipment and software—including an EskoArtwork (Booth 217) Kongsberg iXL 24 table along with the i-cut proprietary graphics registration system, and SignUp software. AMP Printing sends everything to its Kongsberg table, finishing a wide range of substrates, from fomecore, sintra and styrene to acrylics, sheet aluminum, and wood.
“We did a lot in two weeks, putting all our new equipment in place,” remembers Jason Tempestini, color services manager, AMP Printing. “When it was installed, we got caught up in our work and just focused on surviving with the tools we had implemented. In fact, originally when we purchased our Kongsberg table, we even used it to cut stock for presentation folders and packaging. We created a huge number of mock-ups with it. Lately, the focus has been on production, where we create POS, banners, and a lot of shape cut work. We also do work for retail chains, where the same materials are being shipped to a number of stores.”
In the beginning, the Kongsberg table was primarily used for mock-ups, while all the cutting files were created in Adobe Illustrator by hand. “It was getting too painful to nest artwork in Adobe Illustrator. It was eating up too much time to figure out how to get a job done. We had to find a better solution. We realized we had to learn how to use SignUp,” explains Tempestini.
Learning new software
Out of necessity, AMP Printing began to learn how to operate SignUp, sending it PDF files, and allowing SignUp to nest images and create both the print PDF file for the digital presses and cutting files for the Kongsberg iXL 24. SignUp even creates the registration marks for their i-Cut tools on the Kongsberg table to correctly orient the registration accurately. “Once we learned SignUp, it worked great. We even started creating backed up pieces—building two pdf files for the same cuts—and it worked out just fine. It creates the flops, the structural information, everything. The first job we backed up worked great. We know that many designers shy away from two-sided work because they know it can be tough, but for us it’s easy,” says Tempestini.
“We had an unusually shaped check stand sign for a national grocery chain,” he recalls. “When jobs like this used to come in, we expected disaster. This had five or six elements, difficult dielines, and a critical backup. It was roughly 9x13” and had to be printed front and back. I sat in a meeting with all the stakeholders—the production manager, the prepress manager, and others. They expected at least four hours of rework. We just sent it to the Kongsberg table, printed and cut 35 pieces a board, roughly three minutes a board. It took us only a couple days to print and cut the entire job.”
The Kongsberg table and SignUp automate unusual shapes and square cut materials through AMP’s grand format department, while saving 75% of their production time and 20% in materials savings. Before, it took 20-30 minutes to set jobs to cut. Now it takes only 5-10 minutes. “The Kongsberg table was a helpful standalone tool, but the addition of SignUp made it an invaluable workflow,” concludes Tempestini. “SignUp’s nesting is very tight. It can place more on the sheet than we think is possible. Even adding one or two more pieces per sheet is very important. If we continued working with Adobe Illustrator, we would never have known how much work we could set up.”