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The Right Stuff

Finishing Technologies Complete the Equation

By Cassandra Carnes

Finishing is a core component in a print service provider’s (PSP’s) offerings. The ability to provide high-quality output is essential, but it’s finishing capabilities that make or break a print shop’s productivity and the quality of finished products.

 

Wide format routers and cutters are popular for producing graphics. They cut through a variety of media options, including paper, styrene, sintra, foamboard, corrugated stocks, PVC, acrylic, vinyl, wood, aluminum composite, and plexiglass. The advent of flatbed direct-to-board wide format printers increases the need for these devices, particularly for shapes that extend beyond a basic square.

 

Functionality Focused

For Brooke Graphics, a Schaumburg, IL-based PSP, the secret to success is capability. With ten years of experience, the shop possesses a strong repertoire of printing and finishing tools that create a broad range of applications.

 

In 2000, TJ and Sheila Bednarke launched Brooke as an in-home business primarily consisting of dye-based wide format inkjet printers. In 2004 they moved to a 10,000 square foot facility. The shop soon realized direct-to-substrate board printing was gaining ground, and acquired a four-color Hewlett-Packard Scitex FB6100 UV flatbed, which was eventually upgraded to eight colors.

 

Solvent capabilities were incorporated soon after, opening the door to outdoor graphics produced on banner, fabric, and adhesive vinyl. In 2007, Brooke opened a second facility and a new direct-to-substrate printer was added. Continuing to expand, the company most recently acquired a hybrid EFI VUTEk GS2000 flatbed printer with white ink technology.

 

Brooke’s cutting solutions also underwent a steady evolution in the early stages of its business. “Our cutting capabilities started with a straight edge, then we went to a trimmer/cutter, and then to a panel saw,” says TJ Bednarke, owner, Brooke.

 

The shop moved away from the panel saw because it created a teeter-totter effect that led to gaps in between prints. “Everything was leaning towards the purchase of a router with EskoArtwork i-cut technology,” he adds. After researching the market, an EskoArtwork Kongsberg i-XL24 was purchased in 2005. The company later added a second i-cut routing system to substantiate its finishing capabilities. The shop is also equipped with two 60-inch laminators to protect graphics.

 

A Mind for Versatility

Steady equipment acquisitions enable Brooke to stay ahead of client demands. The company takes a conservative approach when it comes to new projects, but its extensive equipment list allows them to fulfill almost any client request with confidence. It relies largely on customer referrals for new business. “It’s a slow form of marketing, but we live by going slow and making the right decisions,” shares Bednarke.

 

Its versatile finishing capabilities enabled the shop to produce a retail display that incorporated a number of different cuts, such as a bullnose arch, as well as clusters of hundreds of holes. Bednarke says they were able to successfully produce the application to the client’s specifications.

 

In addition to producing unique shapes with ease, the Kongsberg router and i-cut technology allow for volume. Bednarke points to a recent application calling for 1,000 panels that incorporated different cutting paths. “The client kept changing their die lines. With the i-cut technology it’s easy to alter the files without incurring extra charges,” he explains.

 

Conquering the World

With creative thinking and sophisticated cutting technologies, Brooke created a unique application for Motif Events. The project was a large map, meant to visually demonstrate the client’s global sales locations. Using a half-inch black PVC with a brushed metal overlaminate, Brooke achieved the illusion of metal the client was looking for without the cost.

 

The process included the application of a mount brushed to PVC, and then a strong adhesive applied to the backside. Sales areas and states were partially routed out using Brooke’s Kongsberg router. A final perimeter cut was then made to complete the project. To install, Motif Events peeled off the release liner and carefully placed the map into position.

 

The Right Touch

Composing that perfect mix of tools—from quoting to printing, finishing, and installation—takes years of experience and business building. While printer choice and processes are often the forefront of industry discussion, it is the finishing tools that are often tasked with touching every job that comes through a shop. Brooke offers a perfect example of maximizing its finishing equipment. 

 

Apr2011, Digital Output

 
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