By Melissa Donovan
A common occurrence for many print shops looking to gain efficiency is that once outfitted with the latest wide format printers, another challenge related to productivity occurs. The dilemma—how can the finishing department keep up with the printers?
For some print service providers (PSPs) the answer to that question is outsourcing. While demand remains steady or increases, this bides time before committing to the purchase of a digital cutter.
Premier Canopies, based in Huntington Beach, CA, recently brought its finishing capabilities in house with the purchase of a Colex Sharpcut digital flatbed cutter. The company, founded in 2012, offers dye-sublimation, digital printing, point of purchase, trade show display, flag, and vinyl banner services. 22 employees work in a 12,000 square foot printing facility offering the company’s services nationwide to more than 1,300 distributors.
Above: Premier Canopies of Huntington Beach, CA recently purchased a Colex Sharpcut SX-1631 digital flatbed cutter to improve finishing speed and accuracy.
In 2016, the company added its first digital printer—an Epson SureColor S50675—for printing to vinyl. According to Craig Tucker, owner/co-founder, Premier Canopies, the machine was integral in helping get his feet wet in digital printing. As the service took off, the PSP realized the need for higher production capability so it researched larger machines.
Meeting with representatives at Grimco Inc., Tucker and the rest of the executives decided to grow the digital printing side of Premier Canopies with the purchase of an HP Inc. HP Scitex FB750 flatbed printer. Four months later a second HP Scitex FB750 was added. Both printers soon reached full capacity, so an HP Latex 1500 was brought in. With a full digital print facility—which was never in the original business plan, admits Tucker—it was time to address the next issue. A huge backlog in finishing started to occur.
Premier Canopies realized that the next investment, while focused on productivity, had to address other objectives as well. “The main goal was to not only improve finishing speed, but improve accuracy on each and every job,” adds Tucker.
Enter Colex. Working again with Grimco and asking other vendors and partners about digital flatbed cutter options, Premier Canopies chose the 5×10-foot Colex Sharpcut SX-1631 digital flatbed cutter.
“We first learned about the Colex Sharpcut through one of our partners that would help us cut large jobs. Jobs that would take us three to four days to cut would take them a few hours to turnaround. We realized very quickly that we needed to come up with a plan to add a machine like this at our facility,” explains Tucker.
In early 2018 Premier Canopies placed an order through Grimco for the Colex Sharpcut SX-1631. It was integrated into the shop at the beginning of June with technician training occurring around the same time. With a month of operation under its belt Tucker says the machine already exceeds expectations.
“It is easy to operate and precise on all of the cutting and routing applications. We have several staff members trained on the Colex Sharpcut that can fill in and operate it at any time, which is huge for a small- to mid-sized shop like ours. This machine increased our production and reduced lead times dramatically, allowing for a better customer experience,” he shares.
In the short time Premier Canopies’ device has been in use its cut through a range of materials. These include wood, acrylic, vinyl banner, PVC, sintra, foamboard, and coroplast. With the versatility of blades, each of these substrates are easy to cut and a high-quality finish occurs every time.
Currently, Premier Canopies sends as many jobs as possible to the Colex Sharpcut SX-1631. Tucker estimates that about 60 percent of its products are cut on the device.
Unbeknownst at the beginning of the process, Premier Canopies’ purchase was the 500th Colex Sharpcut placed into production. The vendor provided the PSP with a number of perks for being a milestone owner including a $500 gift card to put towards bits, blades, and consumables.
Eye to the Future
By 2020 Premier Canopies hopes to be into a new 30,000 foot facility. The Colex Sharpcut SX-1631 is poised to play an instrumental role in this growth.
Aug2018, Digital Output