Creating new possibilities for profit is one way in which print service providers can ensure a healthy bottom line. Adding products and services to a PSP’s menu give customers another reason to purchase items from that location. One way many digital graphics PSPs are creating added value is through the use of incorporating vinyl cutters into their business. Using a vinyl cutter allows a PSP to provide another avenue of signage and broaden the scope of its services. Our experts weigh in on the topic.
Dana Curtis, product manager, Roland DGA Corp. says, “Adding a cutter to an existing printer business is an easy and low cost way to reach new markets. Remember that cutters support a lot of materials not supported by a digital printer. So, a digital graphics and signage business might invest in a cutter to cut materials such as chrome vinyl, gold leaf, reflective vinyl, and a huge assortment of other special effect materials that cannot be printed effectively. There is holographic vinyl which can be cut, as well as media which can be cut into rhinestone apparel templates. We’ve even seen cutter substrates that mimic chalk boards and white boards. These are all materials that don’t perform with a stand-alone printer.”
David Conrad, marketing manager, Mutoh America, Inc. says, “Cutter plotters provide the opportunity for shops to save time and increase productivity in the post print process. The speed and accuracy in which these cutters can complete a job far out performs anything a person armed with a straight edge can accomplish. Plus, cutters provide shops with the ability to expand their application and product offering to include things they may not have been able to offer such as bumper stickers, decals, labels, and detailed lettering design.”
For those that have decided to incorporate a vinyl cutter or plotter, the experts offer some good advice on how one might be used to increase business.
“Look for materials and applications outside your current market that can help your business expand,” says Curtis. “Keep an eye on niche markets that could potentially be the future for your business. If you are currently serving the t-shirt and custom apparel market, look at materials and applications within the vehicle graphics, restyling and interior décor markets. With your cutter, you can work with vinyl and film media to create single-color vehicle graphics and lettering, boat lettering, pinstriping, window tints, and more. Adhesive-backed fabric can also be cut into interesting designs for interior decor applications. Versatility, diversity and productivity are the keys to success in the cutter world.
Curtis continues, “We are always amazed by the creativity of our end users. While a vinyl cutter is designed to primarily cut with a knife, it can also be used with a pen. There are professionals out there drawing countertop templates with a pen inserted into the cutter instead of a blade. Another similar “pen plotting application” is creating the stitching patterns for textiles. A cutter that has been converted into a pen plotter can also be used for architectural and engineering renderings. In fact, any project that requires hand drawing is a candidate for pen plotting with your cutter.”
Conrad says, “The best way to maximize the value of a cutting plotter is to keep it cutting. Being able to print and cut at the same time is important to productivity and maximizing time, resources and profits. Some cutters are built into the printer, which is a good solution for a shop with limited space. But if space is not a major factor and productivity and time management is more critical to the business, you would be better served with a cutting plotter standalone from the printer. Having a separate cutter allows your printer to do what you purchased it to do and that is print, while you can send finished print jobs to the cutter while you start your next print job saving you time, resources and money. Plus, what happens when you have a print/cut device where the cut mechanism is down? When that happens your printer is also down until the cutter can be repaired, and when you’re not printing you’re not making money. The goal is to always keep your printer printing and your cutter cutting. And the cost to purchase as print/cut device vs. a printer and a cutter standalone nets out to be roughly the same investment. So, if you’re not strapped for floor space, do yourself a favor and buy a printer and a cutter independent of one another.”