Bringing Dye Production In-House
Among shops witnessing the benefits of cutting systems and routers is York, PA's Strine Printing, reported lead employee for die making Mike Beard. Beard works at Strine Packaging, the sister company of Strine Printing. In the past, Strine was highly dependent on its die supplier to not only supply dies, but also to remake and resend dies that weren’t quite right, leading to a corresponding enormous loss of time, Beard said.
Strine’s cutting systems provide the company with the flexibility of making its own dyes. “In the early morning, when a file comes down, they’ll say we need these dies done,” Beard said. “By that night, we can have those dies done and on the truck over to Strine Printing. We also have the versatility to alter dies or make all new layouts if customers want changes.”
The router handles one specific part of the dye-making manufacturing process, Beard says. A typical die set will have the cutting die, a set of strippers (male and female), and a set of counters. “Our laser will burn the die board, make a male stripper, and then the die board will go to the bender where the rule will be processed, and be placed into the board,” he explained. “And of course, we have a water jet that cuts the rubber, and that rubber gets placed onto the die around the cutting knife. In this process, the router will make the female stripping board and the counters. Counters create the channel and sheet for a die board. To buy them outside is very expensive, but they have a very long run life. So if we can make our own counters, using the routers, those counters can last hundreds of thousands of impressions. That’s a tremendous savings.”
The router has the versatility to cut different kinds of materials, including Styrene, foam-core, and thin metal plates, Beard added.
Asked if integrating newer equipment into the workflow has been tough, Beard noted there is “definitely a learning curve.” But Strine now handles 90 to 95 percent of its own dye work in house, and the transition has been smooth. Strine also has benefited from more reliable scheduling. That’s because, Beard said, Strine can get dies done quickly, reliably, and exactly as it wants them done.
It has been just a bit more than three years since Strine has moved to production of its own dies. Said Beard: “Within the first year, we recouped the costs of the cutting systems and routers—easily.”
Satisfying PacBlue’s Need for Speed
Another shop singing the praises of cutting systems is PacBlue Printing in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Marketing communications manager Nicolas Slobinsky reported the shop recently added the Océ ProCut flatbed digital cutter.
Said Slobinsky: “Until now, much of the company’s work involved time-consuming and labor-intensive manual finishing and cutting. With the addition of the Océ ProCut flatbed digital cutter and Zund cutter, we have sped up the production process as well as removed the margin for error. Because of PacBlue Printing’s ability to work across all sizes and types of material, we acquired a cutter that reflects the same amount of versatility in operation and is able to work with a variety of thicknesses, lengths, and widths. We’ve successfully cut our turnaround times, our outsourcing costs, and our production times.
“The cutter has also opened up new business opportunities by allowing us to do contour cutting, custom-made boxes, and more,” he added.