Esko, Packaging & Commercial Print

Canadian Printers Install EskoArtwork Kongsberg i-XP 24

Canadian print service providers Global Imaging and Cober Evolving Solutions, both located in Ontario, are seizing opportunities in the short-run wide format arena with the help of EskoArtwork's Kongsberg i-XP 24 digital cutting table.

The two shops are benefiting from the speed, versatility and durability of the Kongsberg i-XP 24, a digital cutting table that blows through any type of corrugated board or other rigid materials used in display graphics or packaging.

Global Imaging upgrade adds more capacity Global Imaging, located in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto, specializes in wide-format graphics, offering everything from interior displays, tradeshows, POP, exterior signage, and vehicle graphics. In 2008, it installed a Kongsberg i-XL to partner with its Océ Arizona 250 GT flatbed printer; in June 2011, after adding two new Océ flatbed printers, they needed faster cutting speed, and upgraded to the i-XP 24.

"We easily doubled our cutting speed," says Scott Saunders, one of Global Imaging's owners "It's so fast that for a typical job, two printers will not keep up with the table. Even complicated cuts pose just a minimal challenge to the machine's speed."

The Kongsberg i-XP 24's throughput--including job preparation, tool changing, and idle time--along with its maximum 66 inches per second cutting speed--is helping to move jobs through the shop in record time. It lets Global Imaging offer on-demand production with quick turnarounds.

Phenomenal speed "We just finished a massive job and it was hard not to notice the phenomenal speed of the machine," says Saunders. "It took us half the time to get the job done. We were cutting sheets in 10-15 seconds. For a 1,000-sheet job, instead of cutting 100 sheets a day, it meant we were cutting 200-250 sheets per day. That's easily double the throughput."

Global Imaging's Kongsberg i-XP 24 is integrated with the i-cut Vision system. "With the i-cut Vision system we can register work on the table," says Saunders. "We perform a lot of contour cuts; the machine automatically registers sheets so it produces clean contour materials every day, every time. It will even compensate for slight misregistration of the sheet before it makes the cuts."

With a total of 10 employees, Global Imaging runs two shifts, seven days week, pumping out 1,000,000 sq.ft. annually; 70%-80% of which is cut. "We generate a lot of materials through here and we (the three owners) actively operate the equipment," says Saunders.

Versatility is key The digital finishing system's versatility is critical to Global Imaging's operation in a variety of ways. First, the Kongsberg i-XP 24 is able to cut a raft of materials, from vinyl to heavy-duty corrugated, from MDF to aluminum, styrene, sintra, foam boards and banners.

Also, the Kongsberg allows for intricate contour detail cutting, and with over 10,000 on-demand templates available, there's virtually no limit to the shapes Global Imaging can offer its customers.

Finally, with a maximum working area of 87"x126," the i-XP 24 can easily handle 10-ft sheets. It's larger area "gives us more area to play with," says Saunders.

Ease of use is also a key component of the Kongsberg i-XP 24. Not only is tool changing quick and easy--"I can go from one tool to another very quickly," says Saunders--but the machine's toolbit touches down and automatically sets the correct height of the substrate. "The fact that the tool does it automatically, not manually, is awesome," he says. "It saves us a lot of time in production."

Adds Saunders, "A lot of the i-XP 24's features are like second nature to us, because we had the previous machine for so long. It's a great machine. I like the way it operates. I like the ease, speed, and the versatility of it. It's reliable, fast, and accurate."

Cober Evolving Solutions keeps up with digital presses Cober Evolving Solutions, the largest printer in the Waterloo area, installed the Kongsberg i-XP 24 along with HP Designjet L25500 and Scitex FB 700 printers, following a move to a larger space and the decision to bring wide-format production in-house.

At its Open House in June 2011, the one-stop graphic arts shop showed off the capabilities of its new equipment. "We were printing off the two wide-format devices to let customers see how the workflow happens," explains Peter Cober, CEO. "It took 30-40 minutes to print, but only 1.5-2 minutes to cut. I had to slow down the machine. It just flies."

The i-XP 24's speed stood out from the get-go. "As soon as I saw the XP, the speed blew me away," says Cober. "It was really impressive. We have a lot of pressure to turn around our jobs, which is why we brought wide-format work in-house. The XP helps get things out the door."

Smooth installation The installation went smoothly, in spite of the pressure of an Open House looming. The i-XP 24 was installed on a Monday, and the Open House was that very next Thursday. "It was a fast learning curve," notes Cober. "We also had an EskoArtwork person to help. There were 300 people at the Open House here. It was a surprise to our clients because they did not know we were buying the table. One of the reasons we had the Open House was to announce our wide-format capabilities."

In addition to its speed and accuracy, the fact that the Kongsberg table is from EskoArtwork is also key. "It's more than just a machine. It's got a very good software company behind it, and we're always looking for future opportunities. Also, we have a lot of HP equipment, and EskoArtwork and HP are partners. That was of interest, as there may be some synergies."

One of the best features about the Kongsberg i-XP 24--along with its speed, is its flexibility, says Cober. "We've already used it with some challenging substrates: aluminum, plexi, sintra, vinyl, foamcore--all of which it handled quite well."

Handles all with ease No two jobs are the same, and the Kongsberg i-XP 24 handles them all with ease. "We have cut aluminum 4x8 sheets to rout out shapes in the middle," says Cober. "We have even cut and scored prototypes produced on our Indigo presses; before we had to have the prototype/sample work done by hand and it was not as neat. We do diecutting for presentation folders. We even use it for shorter sheetfed runs."

For one of Cober's biggest clients--a global leader in wireless technology--the shop produces a lot of pop-up display stands. "We could never have done this job before, because of the turnaround time, but having these capabilities in-house we can do jobs much faster than outsourcing," says Cober.

The Kongsberg's quality and speed have let Cober Evolving Solutions jump through hoops to meet customer demands, a competitive advantage in a competitive market.

"EskoArtwork continues to extend the productivity of sign and display print providers, with extremely sophisticated digital finishing systems," comments Marc Raad, EskoArtwork Account Manager, Canada. "There is much more to the production of signs than just printing. We are committed to 'shaping the future' of our customers´ business and this industry. Sign and display shops need machines to efficiently cut displays when they are printed. Global Imaging and Cober Evolving Solutions are two very good example of what forward-thinking companies can accomplish."

About EskoArtwork (www.esko.com) EskoArtwork is a global supplier of integrated solutions for packaging, sign and display finishing, commercial printing and professional publishing. Its products and services help customers raise productivity, reduce time-to-market, lower costs and expand business.

Portfolio EskoArtwork is the worldwide market leader with software for artwork creation, pre-production, automation, quality assurance and collaboration targeted at brand owners, retailers, designers and packaging manufacturers.

The CDI flexo computer-to-plate imagers, Kongsberg short-run converting and signage finishing systems complete the portfolio for the packaging, label, signage and display industries.

The company provides a range of workflow, automation and quality assurance solutions for the commercial printing and publishing market. For graphic designers and print production professionals there's also the Enfocus suite of PDF tools.

Facts & numbers EskoArtwork employs around 1050 people worldwide. Its global sales and support organization covers Europe, the Americas and the Asia Pacific and is completed by a network of distribution partners in more than 45 countries.

EskoArtwork is headquartered in Gent, Belgium, and has R&D and manufacturing facilities in five European countries, the United States, China and India. The consolidated full year financials ended for 2010 with revenue of EUR 184.1 million.

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