West London-based FD Signs and Fountain Print of Bristol have both invested in Kongsberg X24 Edge cutting tables, supplied by CMYUK, to automate cutting processes and boost turnover.

One of the main factors in FD Signs’ acquisition was a large contract for floor graphics for London Underground, won in the early stages of the first 2020 lockdown. This involved the production of some 750,000 interior and exterior floor graphics and included work for Tramlink, HS2 and Transport for London.

Managing director Fintan Delaney recalled, ‘It was just enormous, crazy and we really struggled to produce the numbers which was something like 7000 per day and we did these using three vinyl roll cutters. We ran about trying to see if any other sign companies could help relieve the burden but so many of them decided to stay closed.

‘Word got around that we were doing these. We were working 24/7 and everyone was really piling the pressure on. It was at this point that we thought there must be an easy way of doing this if this happens again, and we realised it was time to take a step up.’

FD Signs bought the X24 Edge model with router, utility and kiss-cut knives and is running the iCut software, though Mr Delaney admits that there hasn’t been time to experiment much with it, as the current workload involves projects like producing hundreds of Perspex sneeze screens for a national telecommunications client in preparation for staff returning to offices across the UK.

‘The response to our social media around this job has been immense, and as a result we’re getting phone calls every day about our Perspex work from both our existing and new customers.  We’re definitely going to see an upturn in sales,’ commented Mr Delaney, who also reported that a banner cutting job that used to take a day and a half is now reduced to just 20 minutes and that the cutter had handled £20,000 worth of business in its first fortnight in operation.

Fountain Print bought its cutting table to complement a wide-format hybrid latex printer and Summa roll-cutter, in order to handle Correx, foamboard and Dibond work. As part of a restructuring during the pandemic period, the company, which offers offset, screen and large format digital print as well as exhibition stand building services, has decided to focus on display, exhibition and event work as its bespoke nature offers better margins.

‘Exhibitions, events and construction are areas of business where customer service and relationships are still very important. These are bespoke services rather than just print requirements that can be farmed out to the cheapest producer,’ explained director David Peters. The X24 table was specified with kiss-cut, RM knife and milling router tools, plus the iCut software and installed at the beginning of June 2021. A creasing wheel will be added when needed.

‘The additional capacity we now have is mind boggling.  Fast throughput means so much more capability, which lends itself to finding new work streams such as producing props and sets for TV and film,’ Mr Peters adds.