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BIGraphics Makes the Cut

One Sign Shop Discusses Their Routing Experiences

By Thomas Franklin

2 of a 4 Part Series

Sometimes growth poses its own challenges. That’s what Nashua, NH-based BIGraphics, Inc. discovered on the heels of five years of solid business growth driven by a more aggressive marketing campaign.

"We’ve grown 20 percent per year for the past five years," says owner and founder David Merrick. The firm stakes its reputation on "doing what we say we’re going to do, when we say we are going to do it," states Merrick.

However, such rapid growth placed a strain on the business. "The guys in the finishing room needed help," he says.

BIGraphics is a large format print service bureau producing a full range of banners, point-of-purchase (POP), tradeshow displays, and fleet graphics. The 11-year old firm discovered the need for a cutter after their purchase of the MacDermid ColorSpan 72UVR flatbed UV printer two years ago.

"I knew that if we wanted to move more aggressively into POP, we would need to be able to effectively cut-out unusual shapes," Merrick says. Initially, Merrick’s son-in-law built a computer-aided router from scratch. The 4x8-foot flatbed router was a "little crude" Merrick admitted, but it initially sufficed. "It was enough to get us into the shape business," he says.

Since the graphics had to be aligned manually, Merrick realized they needed to bring in a fully automated system. "We knew it wasn’t a matter of adding more people, we needed a flatbed router with automatic registration."

The intent, Merrick shares, was to ease the burden on the finishing staff, to reduce operating costs, and add flexibility to his business. The firm purchased an M-3000 flatbed router from Gerber Scientific Products last year. "It was very easy to set up," Merrick relates. "We had it going virtually minutes after install. It’s taken a load off the individuals in the finishing room and it’s gotten the business ‘bigger, better, faster.’"

The firm now uses the Gerber to do all of its rectangular and multi-copy cutting. One of the early and pleasant surprises, Merrick notes, is the router’s ability to create custom packaging. "We can now cut our own corrugated boxes and scale the box to fit the graphic we’re shipping. That’s exciting."

The firm also puts the router to use making easel backs for larger graphics, as well as hanging bars and related add-ons. "It’s just made our shop much more productive," Merrick says. "That’s the best thing I can say about it. The packaging and corrugated boxes—we would never have been able to readily buy them" in the shapes we needed, he adds.

The M-3000’s contour-cutting helped grow the retail POP business, Merrick asserts. Bringing on the M-3000, which is no small investment, also aligned with his philosophy of staying ahead of the technology curve—and thus keeping ahead of his competitors. "We’ve been aggressive in marketing, especially over email. We now have three Hewlett-Packard HP Designjet 9000s, the ColorSpan, and I just installed a Fujifilm Acuity HD 2504 flatbed UV printer—which really generates superior print quality," Merrick says.

Thanks to the addition of their Gerber Scientific M-3000 router, BIGraphics is expanding both their product offerings and their hardware selection. The shop is one example of a digital print environment where routers/cutters can thrive.

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, The Final Cut.

Jan2008, Digital Output

 
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