Manchester Print Services have just installed a new Blackman and White VersaTech wide bed cutter/router to help cope with the growing demand for wider format digital printing.
Although the company started just seven years ago, it has carved a niche for itself in the Point of Sale (POS) and exhibition and display printing markets which require printing on a wide range of substrates.
Director Lee Egan said, “We have a range of printers that can cope with materials up to 3.2 metres wide, but our cutting machine could only cope with materials up to 1.6 metres so larger jobs had to be hand finished which is both labour intensive and time consuming. The demand for wider printing is growing and we have several UV and dye sublimation printers so we are now printing onto a range of card, fabric and Dibond aluminium composites. We therefore needed a multi-functional finishing machine that could cope with different materials in widths up to 3.2 metres.”
The VersaTech machine, supplied by British manufacturer Blackman and White, has a nominal cutting area of 3.2 metres2 but the cutting bed is conveyorised with a roller feed, which means it can accommodate very much longer lengths of fabric materials. Blackman and White were the first company to develop a flatbed cutter that used a laser as well as a knife blade, and the VersaTech is the only UK laser cutting machine that has a conveyorised material feeder. The cutting bed features a vacuum which locks the material in place for fast and accurate cutting.
The VersaTech incorporates a computer controlled multi-tool head so both blade and laser cutters or a router can be used on a single machine. This means a smaller shop floor footprint and eliminates the need for having a separate machine for each function. The 100W laser cuts with an accuracy of ±0.02mm, and as it’s not in direct contact with the material, it means that even though it operates at speeds up to 1100mm/second, there’s no dragging of the material so cutting is actually far more accurate than with a knife. Many display graphics are printed onto polyester textiles, and as the laser simultaneously cuts and seals the edges of the material, large banners can be finished without hemming or sewing, which further speeds up production time.
The laser cutting unit can be interchanged for a 2.5 KW water cooled router which is capable of running at 60,000. This ensures a very clean cut on materials such as acrylics, Foamex and aluminium composites such as Dibond.
Egan added, “We have built a reputation for a very high standard of service in our industry. This multi-functional cutter and router means that we can continue to provide a superior service to all our customers both now and in the future.”