When Ian Hatfield broke his ankle, the Director of Graphics4 Business (G4B) Ltd was confined to working from home. However, like any business owner whose thoughts are never far away from work, the downtime was used to evaluate the business, the industry and the opportunities for a PoS, exhibition and signage business. The result was the purchase of a DYSS X5 digital cutting table from AG/CAD.
Formed in 2004, the Droitwich Company has continually evolved and its services and equipment now manufactures exhibition graphics, signage, pop-up systems and banner stands, vinyl, fabrication, PoS, fabric and flag production and much more. From a print perspective, the evolution now sees the West Midlands company employ aqueous, solvent and large format UV flatbed digital printing that all culminated in a bottleneck for the final process of hand cutting. During his forced downtime, Mr Hatfield investigated the prospect of a digital cutting table to eradicate the bottleneck.
Commenting upon the situation, G4B Director Mr Hatfield says: "The industry has evolved considerably with customers continually demanding greater flexibility on both the print quantities and the substrates we print on. Compounding this was the cost reductions sought by customers. We bought an OCE Arizona XT flat bed printer four years ago and this meant we had three printers in operation. These machines all fed in to a bottleneck that was our manual hand-cutting operation. Added to this, the flatbed enabled us to print foamex, foam board, cardboard, Corex, PVC and much more. These materials brought greater challenges when conducting precision hand cutting. I used my time working from home to investigate the available options. The DYSS X5-1630C digital cutting table from AG/CAD was the only feasible option for our business."
With a 3m cutting area on the OCE Arizona, G4B opted for a 3m by 1.6m DYSS X5 with a roll feeding conveyor facility. The combination of a large bed and a conveyor would accommodate all the large format work handled by the OCE, as well as the long rolls produced on the other printers. Installed in September, the DYSS X5-1630 has already made a huge impact at G4B.
Easy to Justify The DYSS
Despite only being installed in September, the Droitwich company has instantly reaped the rewards of buying the DYSS. As Mr Hatfield continues: "We had one member of staff hand cutting on a full-time basis and still struggling to keep pace with the printers. Now, the DYSS churns through the creasing, marking and cutting and the printers are now the bottleneck - they can't keep up with the DYSS, a complete role reversal. Now, our employee can set the DYSS going and then get on with other tasks. The DYSS is like instantly having an extra employee."
Of course, the benefits are far more reaching for G4B as Mr Hatfield continues: "The DYSS is easily giving us a 300 to 400% time saving and this is regardless of the job. For example, a batch run of A3 vinyls would take 1.5 days to cut by hand and the DYSS carves through the production run in 2 hours. Additionally, a regular 4mm thick A3 Corex job we run in quantities of 1000 usually takes three days to cut by hand, this is now cut in a few hours on the DYSS. Similar examples are A4 sized wallpaper prints for children's dolls houses that are required in runs of 500 at a time.
By reducing the labour requirement, the DYSS X5 has improved speed, precision, repeatability on long runs and also the edge finishes. Furthermore, the operator is less likely to suffer from Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) or the risk of accidentally cutting themselves - a likely occurrence when using sharp tools all day. With regard to cutting materials such as rigid PVC, operator error can lead to the knife slipping and damaging the printed part, something that just does not happen on the digital cutter. These are just a few examples of how the precision of the DYSS has improved quality and production at G4B.
In terms of streamlining business, the DYSS X5 has also absorbed some of the capacity from the company's dedicated CNC routing machine. The heavy duty router is committed to machining PoS and exhibition work that is manufactured from Perspex, plywood and rigid PVC (Foamex) board. The robust build quality and heavy duty tooling configuration of the T-Head system enables the DYSS to efficiently process some of the tough boards and materials that can often be a bottleneck on the CNC.
The Next Step...
G4B has estimated that the DYSS X5-1630 is so productive that it will pay for itself in little over a year. However, the real potential lies in the business opportunities that lie ahead. As Mr Hatfield says: "We can now generate complex forms and shapes with exceptional precision and speed. This has already enabled us to win new business producing short-run boxes for customers. So, one route we will explore further as a business is cardboard engineering. The KASEMAKE software from AG/CAD will help us explore this sector. KASEMAKE is like a traditional CAD package but with hundreds of built in resizable templates; its easy to use, it's intuitive and it has endless possibilities. The only limitation will be our imagination."
"The KASEMAKE package will help us to develop our own product lines and it will also serve us as a sales tool with the 3D rendering facility that enables customers to visualise their design in a 3D format prior to production of a physical sample or batch run. Our design team have a new tool to develop new business; all we need now are faster printers to keep up with the DYSS."