Me & my: Mohr Cutter 66 NET

Simon Eccles
Monday, March 9, 2015

The guillotine is the most important machine in the building. It’s not the printer that makes the business, it’s the finishing.” Brian Heney, owner and sales manager at Icreateprint, says this was the belief that led him to install a new Mohr Cutter 66 NET in August last year.

It was needed to handle an all-digital workload delivered through the company’s web-to-print set-up. 

The company was founded as a Prontaprint franchise 35 years ago in Kilburn, north west London. Originally it offered mainly short-run offset through its high-street storefront. However, after the most recent 10-year franchise agreement expired in 2011, Heney decided not to renew and chose the new name to emphasise his online ambitions.

Today, he says the business is “predominately a B2B print-on-demand business, with clients from economic consultants, schools, hotels and entertainment enterprises. We have also developed a B2C website that is showing very promising results for the first quarter.

“We use PrintSmith for B2B and Magento for B2C. We’re on the high street, but we try to direct anyone who comes in to the website as much as possible. The effect of that is to free my time up. You need a fairly competent administrator to be able to break jobs down and send them in the right direction. If you don’t have that you have a problem. The beauty of the website is that we’re all able to direct people onto that and to simply take it from there.”

While the company still has an offset press, a two-colour Heidelberg Printmaster, it’s no longer used. “Litho is dead and there’s no point in mentioning it,” Heney says. “It’s all digital print-on-demand and we haven’t used the Heidelberg for over a year.”

The digital press is a Xerox 770. “We went with Xerox because of their service and they are at the forefront of this technology,” he explains. “We also carry a wide range of finishing equipment to support this machine, including Morgana digital folding, creasing and lamination. We also offer die-cutting from digital output.”

The Mohr guillotine replaced an old Ideal 5221-95EP. A new Ideal cutter was considered, Heney says, “but the design of the Mohr with the retractable main blade mechanism was the decider for us. The old design was a drawback because the dust from the paper cuttings fell down into the mechanism causing over time the back guard to skew and thereby throw the cuts out of alignment.”

Built for digital

The Mohr brand was introduced by Polar-Mohr in 2012, specifically for digital printers, who needed small-format guillotines with automation to handle shorter but more frequent runs than are catered for by the company’s large-format, high-volume Polar models. 

In fact,when the firm was founded in 1906 its original name was Adolf Mohr Maschinenfabrik. Polar was a brand name introduced for its first electrically controlled guillotine in 1947, but this became so closely associated with the manufacturer that it changed its name to Polar-Mohr. 

Unlike the rest of the Polar-Mohr range of machines, which are distributed by Heidelberg in the UK, Mohr machines have been supplied to the UK market exclusively by Watkiss Automation since their launch. And it was Watkiss that sold the Mohr Cutter 66 to Icreateprint. 

The 66 model actually has a cutting width of 670mm and sits in the middle of the range between the 56 and 80. Icreateprint chose the NET (networking) version. Jobs for its Compucut computer control system can be programmed by an external computer and sent to the guillotine via its P-Net network. There’s provision to take size and position data directly from PDF artwork or JDF job tickets, which is one of the reasons Icreateprint went for the networked model, Heney says. 

“We set up a code for a particular job – say, business cards – and this generates a barcode that we can print. Then when we do the job we scan it and the guillotine is set. We want to go to a system where the JDF goes straight to the guillotine, but so far our job tickets are not in a JDF format.”

It’s very easy to use, according to Heney. “The programming is a great help. Our production manager was away for three days and we operated the machine easily on the pre-programmed templates. We simply scanned the barcode from a pre-printed sheet via the Mohr scanner and the machine went into action. After each cut the blade adjusts itself and a clear graphic from the display indicates where next to move the sheets for the operator. The end result was perfect and I can see from the waste that the blade comes down on the crop marks exactly for every cut.”

Another factor in the choice was that the Mohr guillotine uses single-phase electricity. “We were hampered by a single-phase supply, so the three-phase Polar guillotines were not suitable for us,” Heney says. 

The installation and set-up was done by Watkiss engineers. “On the same day as the delivery we were finishing jobs,” Heney recalls. “We were surprised at how quickly the engineers had the delivery down to a very short window.” 

Weight watching

The only complication was preparing the site to take the weight of the new machine. The Mohr has three feet in a tripod arrangement that Heney calls “three little piggies”. This make it easier to level the machine, but in Icreateprint’s case concentrated the weight on part of a wooden floor that was a “bit wobbly”. “Ideally it should be placed on a solid floor but we didn’t have this so we made the best of what we had. We placed the machine on top of two very strong walls that go into the basement,” Heney says. “But once it was in we noticed that because of the tripod we were getting a wobble. So Watkiss came up with a frame that was bolted to the two points. While it didn’t eliminate the wobble, it certainly reduced it. 

“They had a guy from Germany come back to us and say it would now be fine. To have left the machine as it was would have seen it deteriorate and we couldn’t have operated it. So we did well. We’re very happy.”

Were there any other pluses or minuses? “The best is the accuracy, but the worst for us was the tripod legs,” Heney says. “The footprint is considerable, compared with the Ideal, but with a simple reorganisation we have as much space as we had before.”

Overall Heney is very pleased: “The machine is a pleasure to use and it has saved us from our production manager leaving, as he was on his last legs as regards the quality he was getting from the old machine!” 


SPECIFICATIONS

Cutting width 670mm

Feed depth 670mm

Max feeding height (without false clamp plate) 80mm

Length of front table 670mm

Table height 900mm

Clamping pressure, range 180-1,500aN

Knife speed 20 cycles/min

Smallest cut, automatic (without false clamp plate) 15mm

Smallest cut, automatic (with false clamp plate) 50mm

Price £21,000

Contact Watkiss Automation 01767 685700 www.watkiss.com


Company profile 

Icreateprint is based on a corner shopfront location on Kilburn High Road in London. “It’s not the most populated area for B2B work, but we have our good clients,” says owner and sales manager Brian Heney. “We are also highly visible as you drive up the A5 to north London.” 

The firm was originally a Prontaprint franchise that Heney bought from the previous owner about 20 years ago. Four people work there now. The name was changed to Icreateprint in 2011. “The new name was chosen from a lot of research and we concluded that we would end up with a website where customers could create and do a lot of the editing themselves,” he says. “We are a little bit away from this objective, but it is an achievable goal.

“Our B2B clients have been very local over the years but this has changed recently as we see more customers move to the web for cheaper options.” 

The online services feature prominently on the website, www.icreateprint.co.uk, which proclaims it offers “local printing, online prices”. There’s an online price list for standardised products and customers are encouraged to upload printable files or use the online business and greetings card design program, but bespoke printing is still on offer for more complex work.

Why it was bought...

“Our old guillotine was causing us problems with cutting,” Heney says. “Engineers told is it would never be better than 1 to 1.5mm out on a cut. We needed more accuracy and the Mohr 66 gives us this peace of mind. We also wanted to step up with networked equipment using JDF. We hope to derive more from B2C and automation is the key to success in this low-margin market.”

How it has performed?...

“We are happy with the decision and we would recommend it to others,” Heney says. “The cost is a big consideration, but to solve a problem with inaccurate cutting we had to move up. Printing is driven by efficiency and it has brought this in spades. Plus the confidence that every time we go to cut the accuracy will be there. The service has been excellent and Watkiss comes in regularly to see how we are getting on with the machine.”

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