Printdesigns is meeting increasing demand for portable fabric-based display stands by ordering a second Zünd G3 digital cutter.
The large-format digital print company paid £125,000 for the kit, which will run alongside a 3.2m-wide Mimaki JV-5 DS fabric-printing machine and a rotary Monti Antonio heat press. It already has a 2m-wide Zünd.
“Our main area of business is high-quality, lightweight portable displays for the self-build exhibitor,” said director Mark Thompson.
“For many years traditional stands had heavy, rollable or panel graphics on PVC or polyester films. Our customers wanted easier assembly and portability and a higher lever of aesthetic finish.”
Thompson said stretchable fabric was foldable, machine washable and came in one sheet as opposed to the "panels and heavyweight systems of old that weighed 35kg and hogged the back seat of a car".
The new Zünd G3 cutter, due for delivery in September, has a 3.2m-wide bed to allow full-width rolls of fabric to be trimmed quickly and accurately.
It will save time, Thompson said. A seamstress could take 30 minutes cutting a graphic, but now that time could be spent sewing material, doubling the amount of work output.
The 15-staff Printdesigns is based in Stone, Staffordshire, makes a turnover of £3m and is looking to take more trade work as well as projects for end-user clients.
“For most print people the thought of sewing a button on a shirt makes them tremble, so putting a zip on a 3m-long stretchable fabric is a definite no-no. They shy away from this kind of work," said Thompson.
“But you just have to stick your neck out, buy the equipment and learn from your mistakes. We are advertising for trade work; for printers who don't want to buy large-format fabric-printing systems.”
Thompson said he had no set target for growth: “We run a tight, personalised service, so when clients phone us up they know whoever who picks up is not four people away from the job.
“If I set a target for another £2m of business I'd probably have to move from our 1,000sqm base to a 2,000sqm premises and take on around 10 more staff.
“And that risks possibly watering down our personal touch. I have no desire to build an enormous outfit with all the problems and stresses that can bring.”
The new cutter features a specially developed fabric tensioning system, for the effective transport of the high elastane-content polyester fabrics used for Printdesigns's graphics.
Zünd Plotting Systems (UK) product manager Nick Reed said: “For print businesses that cut materials manually, the addition of a Zünd digital cutting table can transform production.
“Demand for lightweight exhibition graphics is set to grow and grow, but so few UK graphics companies can handle very wide fabrics.
“This 3.2m machine gives Printdesigns an even greater competitive edge in the marketplace.”