In the second case study from Sign & Digital UK, we are focusing on finishing products in the large format print industry – and in particular banner and textiles finishing.
An area which is often overlooked is the finishing side of large format and yet the soft signage and banner market is growing rapidly and almost all soft signage and banners require some sort of finishing whether its hemming, eyeleting or welding. The ability to control the quality of the finishing and increase the overall profit margin of a banner or soft signage product by bringing this finishing in house is becoming more commonplace. One such company helping signmakers and print businesses make this transition from “printer” to “print solution provider” is Solent Sewing & Welding Solutions . They are a 4th generation family run business that specialise, as their name suggests, in sewing and welding equipment for technical textiles. They manufacture their own range of industrial long arm sewing machines as well as supplying high quality standard sewing machines and offer a full range of hot air, hot wedge and impulse welding machines from Miller Weldmaster.
Melanie Jenkins, Marketing Director of Solent explains their ethos; “Our emphasis is on improving the customers’ production times and finish quality by finding the best sewing or welding solution for the customer. The wide range of welding equipment we offer means our customer can weld PE and Digital Textiles as well as PVC. The technological developments of printers with increased speed and print width has meant that we have to find faster finishing solutions to keep up with the print capacity. This can be a real issue for businesses and that’s why we offer a very comprehensive range of solutions that range from standard machines for joining and hemming graphics through to custom automated systems.”
There are many needs for soft signage today and the demand is growing for high quality tested graphics for building wraps, flags, banners and scaffold mesh. All of these require finishing to the highest standards due to potential health and safety risks, so reliability is of paramount importance. For the smaller banner maker who would traditionally send banners out to be finished, bringing this in house offers some very real benefits including increased quality control, quicker turnaround times and increased profits. For example, a 1.8m x 1.2m banner can be hemmed on all 4 sides in under 1 minute with no consumables required (i.e. no additional costs) using the Weldmaster T300 Extreme Edge.
Hampshire Flag Company, themselves a past exhibitor at the show, first saw Solent Sewing & Welding solutions three years ago at Sign & Digital UK and were convinced that their products were the way forward and as a result, purchased their first finishing machines.
The reasons, they state, that they bought the products was because of their ease of use and the build quality. “Three years on and we are still happy with them,” Graham Wilkinson of Hampshire Flag Company states, “they have been extremely reliable, economical and cost effective.” Hampshire Flag Company are also a family-run business, formed almost three decades ago. They create a huge range of banners, bunting and burgees to café barriers, ceremonial equipment and custom flags and their client base is local, national and international. Wilkinson continued, “Over the last five years, advances in digital textile printing has led to quicker production speeds in addition to the demand for allowing greater complexity of design and full photographic design with UV resistance. This has meant we have to respond equally and we can achieve this through our state of the art production facilities that deliver first class results to meet the high expectations of our clients.”
A recent project undertaken using these machines was the production of a 12ft x 3ft PVC banner created to encourage people in Portsmouth to join the bone marrow register in a bid to find a match for a four month old baby who desperately needed a transplant. They also manufactured a 40ft x 20ft banner emblazoned with the Portsmouth Football Club badge and the slogan “Pompey till I die” which was then signed by supporters all over the city ahead of the FA cup quarter final win against Birmingham City.
Jenkins concludes, “Solent has exhibited at Sign & Digital UK for a number of years. We have found it to be the best show of its kind in the UK to meet potential customers with a need for our products – from one man businesses to the biggest names in the Industry – and we look forward to meeting them all again at the show in 2011.”
Solent have a new website packed with lots of products and helpful information for the signmaker including many instructional videos, just launched at www.solentsew.co.uk and visit them on stand H20 at Sign & Digital UK 2011 at Birmingham NEC on the 12th – 14th of April.