Me & My: Vivid Laminating Technologies VeloBlade Volta 69+
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
Brighton-based One Digital had always outsourced die-cutting jobs. It had a sizeable array of equipment in its factory that allowed it to take on all manner of digital and litho work, including a vinyl Summa machine, so it was used to setting up dies and cutting guides, but die-cutting was something it had never really considered bringing in-house.
This was partly due to the prohibitively high cost of many of the leading die-cutting machines.
However, its existing client base of local councils, government bodies, PR agencies and SMEs were increasingly requiring die-cutting and run lengths were getting shorter and shorter, making it less economically viable to outsource jobs. If it could find an affordable machine that allowed it to die-cut in-house it would make the business more competitive, allow it to turn jobs around more quickly and also make a profit on that short-run work.
“We’ve got a lot of PR agencies that are looking for very short-run bespoke marketing pieces for their clients and their PR events, but the minimum charge for die-cutting is £80 to £150 for a die, so by the time you’ve done anything, you’re talking a couple of hundred quid for a client,” explains Steve Poland, director at One Digital.
So the company started shopping around for a flatbed cutter. Poland says they checked out the obvious contenders supplied by the likes of Summa, Zünd and Esko, but quickly ruled out purchasing models from these manufacturers because the cost of the machines were too high. The company was essentially looking for something that would allow it to dip its toe into the water and establish its offer before committing to a high-end model. Step forward the VeloBlade Volta 69+ digital die-cutter from Vivid Laminating Technologies, which was recommended to One Digital by another company.
“We took a look at it and it opened up a different idea: that we could maybe do short-run die-cutting on it and also large-format work because it goes up to 10mm, so we could cut foam board and do bespoke shapes on it which we’ve been asked to do [by customers], but we haven’t been able to do at all. We’ve had to outsource that completely,” says Poland.
Another printing company that had recently installed a VeloBlade Volta 69+ allowed Poland to come and see the machine in action. “They had a run going on it and they let us do a few sample sheets, and we were blown away by it,” he says.
While Poland was impressed by the quality the key factor in the VeloBlade’s favour was its price. “We didn’t want to risk stretching to a Summa, an Esko or a Zünd, but this one’s 20-odd thousand pounds so we thought it’s worth going for it to see how it pans out.”
In February last year, One Digital took delivery of the machine. Poland says installation went smoothly with the machine installed in one day and, the following day, his team were trained up on it. One of the upsides of the VeloBlade is its ease of use.
“It’s one of those things that people can just jump on and run,” says Poland. “As long as you know what you’re doing it doesn’t require much user intervention and for us it was very easy to use because the guys that are running it are from the studio side of things, so we’re used to computers and we’re used to dies. Because we send dies out, we understand how a die works, plus we have the vinyl Summa.”
Since installation Poland says the company has run lots of different jobs on it and that it’s a highly versatile machine. “We’ve used it for large-format, point-of-sale, bespoke cut jobs and we’ve also used it a lot for short-run kiss cut stickers. Normally, you’d be looking at producing tens of thousands to make it worthwhile if you are going to create a die for it, but on this you can just do one sheet if you want to, which is amazing, and that sheet might cost £20 or £30, whereas before it would have been £150 to £200, so customers are willing to pay for it. It just fills that gap between clients that don’t want to spend money to get die-cut or get a die made.”
Although Poland is delighted with the way the VeloBlade has run since installation he says there were a few small teething issues early on, which were more down to knowing how to get the maximum benefit out of the machine.
“We would just get on the phone [to Vivid] and they would say ‘if you adjust this and adjust this’ that will work’ and it fixed the problem straightaway,” he says.
While One Digital initially had some operating issues with the software on the VeloBlade, these were quickly cleared up with the help of Vivid, which develops its own software upgrades in-house. As Printweek went to press Vivid was in the process of preparing to launch a new Zip Core packaging design suite, which it says has been created to optimise all aspects of packaging design.
Poland admits that the machine has some other minor limitations, such as the way it creases, but reiterates that the pluses far outweigh any minuses.
“For a start, it’s the cheapest machine that we found, so if you want to get into the die-cutting market and bring it in-house, it’s a small outlay. For the price it’s also got a good cutting depth of up to 10mm, whereas some machines only go to about 6mm. It’s got an oscillation tool on it as well, so you can literally cut anything you like. Those are the big selling points, but cost is the key thing really.”
Poland adds that he would definitely recommend the machine to companies that want to dip their toe into the short-run die-cut market, but don’t want to splash out on an expensive piece of kit. As for whether his company would consider buying another one, he says they would probably be more likely to look to invest in a model from the likes of Summa, Esko and Zünd to run alongside the VeloBlade if the volumes were there.
But for the time being One Digital is committed to getting the most out of the new die-cutter and meeting the growing demand for short run die-cut work from the company’s customers.
“We’ve had plenty of inquiries and we’ve done plenty of jobs on it,” says Poland. “We haven’t run the figures yet to see if it’s paying for itself, but it definitely will and other than the software issue it’s been a blinding machine and a good addition to our range of equipment.”
Auto sheet capacity 150mm
Feeding type Vacuum feed with clamps
Min sheet size 210x297mm
Max sheet size 900x600mm
Max cutting speed 1000mm/s
Max cut depth <5mm as standard, option to increase to <10mm with oscillating upgrade unit
Footprint 3.6x 1.2m
Contact Vivid Laminating Technologies 0808 506 5787 www.vivid-online.com
Brighton-based One Digital supplies a wide range of print, from business cards and brochures through to exhibition materials, to a varied customer base that includes local councils, government bodies, PR agencies and SMEs. It operates out of two adjacent units with a combined floorspace of 866sqm and to the year-end March 2020 it posted turnover of just over £2m. The company started trading in 1996 as Digaprint and became known as One Digital in 2005 following a merger with Carmichaels. One Digital boasts a wide range of litho and digital printing and finishing kit, including an iGen 5 and Heidelberg Speedmasters, in addition to wide-format kit from Epson, Roland DG, HP and Summa.
Why it was bought...
Poland says: “The key consideration was the ability to offer that range of products – those short-run, kiss-cut and die-cut items for a low price to our clients, because that is exactly what they were after. That’s what they were demanding and potentially going elsewhere for. The industry is getting used to shorter and shorter runs, but we’re now looking at even shorter runs, where you can do a one-off, a two-off or a five-off job and still make it affordable for the client.
How is has performed...
It does everything we want it to do and we’re really pleased with it.