By Martin Morrissey, Marketing Director, Solent Sewing & Welding Solutions
For many printers, 'putting the ink on the paper' has been the priority and how the job is then finished can be of far lesser importance.
However, a new breed of 'enlightened' printers is now coming to the fore with far more emphasis being placed on maximising productivity in the finishing department and providing as equally as high quality 'finish' to the job as the printing.
"This is a trend we have noticed over the last couple of years," says Solent Sewing & Welding's MD Ian Jenkins. "Printers are becoming much more aware of the overall radical improvement to their company workflow and bottom line that a profitable finishing department can make."
An example of the 'new breed' is Kevin Keane of Signfirm in Watford. Kevin bought the Miller Weldmaster T3 from Solent in late 2012. He used to use tape to finish his banners but experienced several problems.
Since he has been welding with the T3 however, he has a much better finish and the weld is strong enough for all his applications. "The installation and training was very simple and thorough. In one day we had the T3 installed; our 3 guys trained and welded banners going out the door!"
"My customers love the clean, smooth finish and we are getting repeat orders, whereas with taping, we just used to worry about how poor they looked and whether they would be strong enough." said Kevin. "Our finishing is a lot easier now; we just group up all our banners, wheel out the T3 and weld them in one run. Even 10 metre banners with no issues. What used to take us several minutes per banner is now taking us about 1 minute per banner! The T3 is an investment that has freed up a lot of man hours we can usefully employ on other things and what I am most impressed with is that I no longer have to spend between £400 and £700 per month on tape!
Not only will I have paid off the T3 in one year, I am also getting work in now from corporate customers that would never have accepted taped banners!"
Solent Sewing & Welding
Solent has been in the business of industrial sewing and fabric handling for 50 years, with a history of manufacturing attachments and modifying sewing machines with different arm lengths and configurations. Since becoming Miller Weldmaster's sole UK Distributor 8 years ago and because of the wide range of finishing solutions Solent has available, their customers range from 'one man bands' to the largest printers in the country.
"Automation is the key to profitability," says Ian. "With our fully automated roll to roll welding, cutting and eyeleting machines we have unbeatable solutions for the printer looking to move ahead of the competition."
In its Portsmouth factory, Solent also continues to build its own high quality Texsew and Bannersew Pro with conveyor solutions, "Which appeal to customers where their applications do not suit welding and who use sewing machines for banners and digital textiles." says Ian.
Wider choice of materials
Another example is Tim Andrews at Hollywood Monster. Tim's requirement was to weld a wide range of materials (including eco friendly) which their previous HF machines were unable to finish. "The Miller Weldmaster 112 Extreme eliminates bottlenecks and provides a new cutting resource."
"It wasn't just the high quality and tremendous improvement in speed of the welding that convinced us, we were also impressed by the semi automatic cutting, eyeletting, rope inserting and the general increase in efficiency it brings to our business."
Tim went on to say: "More and more eco friendly materials will replace the current PVC ranges and therefore hot wedge or hot air welds may become the all round preferred route. Also, automated cutting technology for large format banners solves a big issue. We need to get people off their hands and knees on the floor. So all in all, as with most printers, the finishing department has always been a bottleneck and this will give us at least double finishing capacity, an improvement in quality of cutting, allows us to print onto a wider range of materials and generally increase throughput".
"Welding offers a number of benefits for the outdoor banner printer. No sewing means no thread, so no consumables, and the finished product looks better as there are no lines of visible stitching across your banner. Heat sealing is also very fast and robust and the weld is stronger than the material. At the lower volume end of the market, welding offers significant improvements in speed and quality over taping or handheld devices," says Ian.
The future of finishing - customised, automated solutions
"As well as offering standard, finishing systems, Solent / Miller Weldmaster offers customised automated finishing systems. Miller Weldmaster custom machines are tailored to suit the manufacturer's exact requirements. They can weld seams, hem, add reinforcements, set eyelets, punch holes or add webbing or keder, then cut to size or rewind to rolls in a fully automated, computer controlled process. These machines improve quality, increase production and are built exactly to a customer's specifications and dimensions," Ian concludes.
For more information please call 0239 232 5975 or visit solentsew.co.uk