By Melissa Donovan
Digital finishing systems come in many shapes and sizes. One device may be ideal for cutting large bolts of digitally printed fabric, while another has the capability to handle thick pieces of rigid board. With the variety of product to cut and the number of machines available, sometimes it is difficult to commit to one piece of hardware.
While this is harder for smaller shops with limited budgets and space, larger companies are able to branch out and purchase multiple finishing devices to cater to their multi-application needs. Heavy-duty outdoor signage may require a router, while thin, flexible media benefits from a plotter.
The result is a digital workflow from end to end, allowing less room for error and a quality finished product. Customers expect consistency and finishing equipment must deliver in this regard.
Luxury Visual Imaging
Coloredge, of Carlstadt, NJ, has the privilege of owning multiple finishing devices, due its success and interestingly enough, the multiple mergers and acquisitions it’s been through over the last few decades.
It was originally a traditional photo processing lab that began in the 1970s and grew as technology changed. Multiple acquisitions allowed it to morph into the powerhouse creative partner that it is today.
The company is widely known for its retail imaging and display solutions for major fashion brands such as Armani Exchange and BCBG Max Azria. Coloredge offers capabilities from project concept to execution including wide format printing, custom fabrication, installation, photo printing, package prototyping, digital signage, creative retouching, graphic design, and fulfillment.
Around 130 employees work out of Carlstadt in a space estimated at 80,000 square feet. In addition to NJ, the print service provider (PSP) also has similar locations in Los Angeles, CA, Atlanta, GA, and New York City, NY.
Its clients are spread throughout the U.S., some of which have stores outside of the country and Coloredge handles the signage for those too. In these scenarios, the PSP is responsible for creative, print, distribution, and fulfillment to all of the locations and in some cases, may even install if necessary.
Because of the cyclical nature of sales, most of Coloredge’s clients change out graphics around the same time due to seasonal promotions. To handle this, the company relies on trusted hardware.
It uses an Eastman M9000 Static Table System from Eastman Machine for much of its in-store displays and light box work. The company has owned this piece of equipment since 2000. According to Sebastian Pratap, director of graphic panel production, Coloredge, the “workhorse” survived historic Hurricane Sandy even after the production facility in NJ took on four feet of water. “We only had to change out a few parts and it was up and running,” he continues.
The 78-inch by 24-foot flatbed on average cuts 150,000 linear feet a year. This includes paper and vinyl with thicknesses anywhere from 23- to 27-mil. It’s used daily, eight hours a day.
Other flatbed routers are used for drilling holes into materials and an XY cutter works to cut rolls of flexible media. Which device utilized is dependent on the job. The Eastman M9000 handles the majority of the in-store display and light box work.
When it comes to thinking about the Eastman M9000 and the difference it’s made to the company, Pratap points out that its existence pre-dates his employment. However, he says, “There really is no comparison. It’s machine versus man. Before it, they cut by hand. Now it takes the machine a minute to cut a 30 square foot pattern with no waste and little room for error. It’s all about accuracy and productivity.”
One on One
With a company as large as Coloredge, it is imperative that finishing devices suited for specific applications are accessible. The PSP identified the Eastman M9000 as an ideal piece of equipment for finishing its in-store displays and light boxes over a decade ago, and still uses the device today. While these two applications are just a small representation of what the print provider is capable of, it shows commitment by investing in equipment designed to enhance productivity.
Apr2016, Digital Output