Me & my: Titanium 2516
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Mike Beese is constantly on the lookout for new opportunities. The managing director of Pontypridd-based DecTek thinks that for companies to survive and indeed thrive in the cutthroat world of commercial printing they have to innovate, evolve and diversify their offer to retain existing customers and win new ones.
And to do this requires investment – in Beese’s case a lot of investment.
Since the summer of 2020, when Beese reviewed the business and plotted a future growth strategy, DecTek has invested more than £1m in new equipment and taken on extra production space to house the kit. In that period he’s taken delivery of a Canon Colorado 1650 large-format printer, a Canon imagePress C810, a Duplo DuSense Pro DDC-810 ‘sensory coater’ and DC-646iPro multi finisher, and two Vivid Matrix laminators – one for laminating, one for foiling special effects.
DecTek has also taken delivery of five – yes, you read that right, five – Titanium cutters from International Graphic Supplies (IGS). The company’s first Titanium cutter, an 1816, was installed in June 2020 and this was swiftly followed by a Titanium 3032; a Titanium 2516 with router; and a Titanium 0806, to enhance DekTek’s digital print department.
Earlier this year, the company took delivery of its fifth Titanium cutter, another 2516, to support its labels, signage and short-run packaging offer. Prior to the pandemic DekTek specialised in domed labels, but during the pandemic as well as capitalising on demand for social distancing graphics and face masks, Beese realised that due to the rapid growth of e-commerce thanks to people stuck at home ordering goods online, there was a significant opportunity for the company to cash in on growing demand for the rapid production of short run packaging items, such as samples, custom packaging, bespoke boxes and transit packaging.
“What we realised is the world is highly responsive today, so you’re expected to sample, respond and dispatch very, very quickly,” says Beese. “And a lot of companies are also focused on shorter runs and they’re not buying the increased volumes that they were [pre-pandemic] because they’re cautious of the market. So this particular cutter [the 2516] was bought to support our short-run packaging, where we can respond to sampling for the client.”
He adds that when he took the decision to invest in another cutter he didn’t feel the need to investigate what other manufacturers could offer because he knew exactly what the Titanium was capable of doing as he was already using four of the machines.
“In the beginning, I originally bought Zünd equipment, but they’re a much higher price,” says Beese. “Because of the expansion of the company and because we are buying in new technologies, you can always invest in the print [side], but finishing technology is always expensive.
“So I had to look for something that was affordable and that I could align with my printing equipment, because although you can buy a printer that might cost you £50,000, £100,000 or £200,000, if you’re then spending £100,000 on a cutter behind it, that is going to limit your capabilities of what you can buy in – it’s going to eat into your cashflow on purchasing. So, I had a look through the marketplace very cautiously for this model, which is much cheaper than the main brands that are out there.”
Although the company tested the first Titanium cutter it bought – Beese had sample products produced on it and went to see a demo before taking the plunge – he no longer seeks this assurance.
“We have complete confidence in the equipment. We know how the machines perform and we know their capability so all we do now is spec up a size requirement and the tooling around it and we order it in and it starts performing straight away.”
The cutters have been brought in to perform different functions; some are used for cutting only, some are used for routing, but the idea is that each piece of equipment supports another “department and layer” of the business and this has allowed DekTek to diversify, “offer new products and new manufacturing cycles”.
Thanks to the company’s familiarity with the Titaniums, installation of the latest model was a “breeze” as Beese and his team know what’s required to house the machines. “So we have the electrical supply in place, we have the compressed air in place and the site where it’s positioned is already prepared. When we take delivery now it’s seamless. It’s a couple of hours setting up in the morning and by the afternoon, you’re up and running.”
The speed of setup is partly down to the machine’s ease of use and its straightforward interface. It also comes with a barcode reading facility, which makes life even easier for the machine operator.
“When you export the file from Adobe – or whatever software – it will export a barcode and attach it to the job,” explains Beese. “We have a barcode reader that finds that particular job on the system straight away and then the job is pretty much setup. It’s very intuitive and very simplistic to run.”
The Titanium 2516 has a cutting speed of up to 1,200mm per second, depending on the material used, and a maximum cutting thickness of 50mm, again depending on the material used. It has a maximum cutting size of 2.5x1.6m and can handle a wide range of different substrates, including corrugated board, car stickers, EPE foams, flag fabric, honeycomb board and PVC plate.
Beese says that in addition to cutting paper, board and acrylics, among other materials, the company is also cutting textiles on it. “We’re manufacturing sample packs for some big names in industry. They send us quite a diverse range of sustainable products for testing and the machine has been cutting them and eating its way through the work. We’ve been cutting some very intricate products.”
A surprise product produced on the cutter that has helped the company expand its portfolio is jigs. “We have flatbed printers so we’re actually printing directly to components and using the machine to produce jigs, which are used on the flatbeds to support production.”
Beese says that there have been no issues whatsoever with the latest addition to the company’s equipment armoury and as a result he can’t find fault with the machine. Nor does he have any quibbles, no matter how minor, with the level or service and support offered by IGS, who he says have been “exemplary” on every single deal he’s struck with the firm.
“They understand our needs, understand our business, understand the opportunity and the potential, so they’re always looking at the next machine for you. So what they will say is ‘don’t look at this year and the now, look at the opportunity six months down the line’. It’s amazing support. What they also do is they find customers for you. So if they have a client base that wants to buy the equipment in and that client can’t afford the equipment, then they will pass that client on to you, so they’re actually finding you routes to market as well which is quite unusual and very appreciated.”
Beese says the new machine has given the company a wide range of different benefits. For starters, it has increased the range of services DecTek offers customers and it’s also helped to increase turnover.
“We had our best quarter ever at the start of the year. We increased turnover by about 16% and that’s a lot in the current climate.”
The cutter has also helped DecTek support demand from customers for short run, quick turnaround jobs. “Everything is lastminute.com these days and it’s all about this Amazon next-day culture, so the cutter helps to support that demand. What is also nice is we used to have cutters supporting separate printers, but now we’ve created a cutting department so the three [different models of] cutters are now aligned and we have one operator running three cutters, so it’s also brought us greater efficiency.”
Given Beese has already bought five Titanium cutters and struggles to find fault with any of them he says he would definitely recommend the machines to other companies and he’s already thinking about buying another model.
As for whether or not he’s looking to further diversify the company’s offer, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. “It’s what we do, it’s what we get up in the morning for. We’re always looking to diversify.”
It’s an approach that has worked well for the company so far and long may it continue.
Cutting speed Up to 1,200mm/s
Max cutting thickness 50mm
Max cutting size 2.5x1.6m
Cutting material All kinds of corrugated paperboard, greyboard, KT board, PVC expansion sheet, honeycomb board, car sticker, light slide, PP gum, flex banner, flag fabric, EPE foams, EVA, PVC plate, acrylic and thick foam
Price From £48,000
Contact International Graphic Supplies 01291 570580 www.igs-digital.com
Mike Beese founded DekTek around 19 years ago in his kitchen. The initial setup was incredibly modest – all he had was a printer, resin dome setup and a fax machine, which were all financed on credit cards. Fast forward nearly two decades and the company employs around 36 people across two sites in South Wales totalling more than 2,780sqm.
Typically, customers are trade resellers located nationwide to whom it supplies a wide range of items, including millions of domed labels each month. DekTek also produces name badges, signs, mugs, door mats and table cloths, PVC banners and custom packaging in addition to a vast array of other printed collateral.
Why was it bought...
To capitalise on growing customer demand for fast-turnaround, short-run packaging
How has it performed...
Even better than Beese expected. “It’s helped us to grow turnover and it’s given us a greater manufacturing capability. We built the business on low volume, high frequency and higher margin, and these machines support that focus.”