Alexander Jauker discusses new business opportunities for a competitive environmentWithout a doubt, the business model in the printing industry has changed enormously in the past few years. With runs becoming shorter and tight deadlines being a daily requirement, print service providers need to identify new areas where they can distinguish themselves from the crowd.
Lasers open the door to new business opportunities and allow companies to make this distinction by expanding their portfolio, generating new streams of income, and increasing their profit margins. With the use of a laser system, sign and display companies can easily expand into contour cutting of printed materials such as acrylic, paper, cardstock, MDF, polystyrene, and foam boards. The ability to produce unusual shapes for displays, signs, or paper products allows for a more interesting and higher quality end product.
Intricacy in CuttingSign and display companies that invest in a laser generally expand into the field of acrylic fabrication. This is because post processing is costly and the same level of intricately is not feasible with a router. As a result, those without a laser system usually outsource such applications. With outsourcing, you’re taking on added expenses, losing control over the process, and increasing production time. All of these factors mean you’re not only facing lower margins but you’re becoming less competitive.
Advantages of Laser TechnologyLaser cutting is unbeatable on acrylics. Traditional milled edges require a secondary polishing process. With a laser, you can achieve flame polished cut edges with no post-processing. The one step laser process renders cost and time intensive manual flame polishing unnecessary... A cost savings up to 88%!
With the ability to produce intricate geometric shapes with the highest level of precision and quality, laser technology has redefined paper finishing. A cutting plotter is unable to meet such standards. Customers can be delighted with new opportunities for design, and you can differentiate yourself from the competition. Not only can you cut the most delicate paper shapes without difficulty, it is also possible to engrave logos or pictures.
The laser beam is the universal ‘tool’ for all geometric shapes, strengths, and thicknesses of material; whether the substrate is rigid or flexible, hard or soft. The laser system is not limited to just cutting, engraving, and marking. Laser technology also scores when it comes to processing materials such as paper, cardstock, MDF, foam boards, polystyrene, films, and textiles. Additionally, the heat of the laser beam seals the synthetic textiles in a controlled manner producing nice clean edges.
Additional AdvicePrinted signs, displays, or point-of purchase materials can be cut on an individual basis using laser technology and vision registration. With other methods, such as manual or laser pointer registration, slight distortions of the printed design create unsatisfactory results. However, a camera system recognizes any distortions in the printed design. Whether it is a linear or non-linear distortion or a rotation, the cutting path is adjusted automatically and dynamically. The cutting lines; therefore, always perfectly match the printed design on both flexible and rigid materials.
Vision registration works by printing registration marks along the image. The camera is mounted on the processing head of the laser and registers the dimensions of the printed design by reading these marks prior to the cutting process. By comparing the read registration marks on the printed design and the target positions in the original cutting file, the vision registration algorithm is able to recognize and compensate for any discrepancies. The software not only corrects rotations but it also adjusts the cutting path if the printed design is distorted or skewed. This guarantees a perfectly cut end product.
Knowing that laser technology can open doors for new income streams, print service providers have to identify the most suitable laser system. The combination of the optical registration mark recognition system and a Trotec laser can generate process cost savings of up to 30%. A good starter is the Speedy 500 with EskoArtwork’s i-cut Vision registration system. Trotec’s Speedy 500 is proving to be a good partner for manufacturing more products, adding new services, and value. With a roomy working area and pass-through option coupled with countless hardware options, the Speedy 500 is well equipped for every application, flexibility guaranteed.
New Service PotentialFrom simple rectangular signs to complex contours and markings, everything is now possible:
• UV-printed, contour cut signs of high quality acrylic
• Intricate gift cards made from paper: printed, laser cut and engraved
• Printed displays with unusual geometries
• Contour-cut illuminated acrylic signs
• Laser cut and back-lit dimensional letters
• Printed and cut cardboard displays
• Intricate-finish book-binding and covers
• Pop-ups for impressive direct mails
• Engraved and cut wedding invitations and greetings cards
• Printed acrylic advertising material, illuminated lettering and logos
• Polyester flags, appliqués and banners
In summary, digital finishing is a non-saturated market with room for growth, ensuring a competitive edge and a high degree of added value. Only one tool is needed for all applications across a wide range of materials, and this system is particularly strong with acrylics as the market demands a flame-polished cut for acrylic point-of-purchase displays and signs.