User login

A Cut Above

(September 2010) posted on Mon Aug 30, 2010

How five shops have benefited by investing in cutters and routers

click an image below to view slideshow

By Jake Widman

Mercury, on the other hand, was American born and bred, founded as Mercury Blueprint and Supply Company in 1954 by Joseph Robichaud. In 1998, both firms were acquired by the American Reprographics Company. “We continued to operate as competitors for a year,” says Martin, “and then ARC decided it would be to their best advantage to merge us together. At that point we became Mercury-LDO.” The company now employs around 45 people in Las Vegas and also has operations in Colorado and Salt Lake City.

“We still do traditional reprographics for the AEC industry,” Martin continues. “But we also offer wide-format color with the Océ Arizona GT 350 and the Océ 960. We saw the downturn in the AEC market a couple of years ago and felt it was necessary to venture into the signage business. We do a lot of work with home builders for billboard signage—those big 16-foot billboards advertising new developments being built.”

To support that move, the company bought an Océ ProCut flatbed cutter, which came to the fore at Christmas last year, when Martin was approached by a company that had an idea for an indoor seasonal display.

“They wanted their employees’ images put onto elf bodies,” Martin says. “They just gave us the concept and photos of all their employees. We downloaded different elf images from a royalty-free stock-image site and attached the photos to the bodies via Photoshop. Each employee was a separate elf.”

Martin and crew used Arizona GT 350 to output the images onto 3/16-inch white foamboard at various sizes from two- to five-feet high. They then cut out all of the elves, and these went into an indoor display at the company.

The ProCut made short work of the job, says Martin. “The foamboard cuts relatively easily, and you can get quite intricate on the detail when you’re using the different blades to cut. Sometimes when you’re using a more rigid substrate, you have to switch out to an actual router bit, and then it can get a bit tricky on the fine detail. But the elves were easy.”

For installation, some of the elves were mounted directly to the display wall using stand offs to give them a 3D look; others had large easels made from foamboard mounted to the back.

Tempt In-Store Productions: Shorter Runs
Tempt ( is a division of HGI Graphic Arts, a print provider traditionally serving the publication, catalog, book, and commercial markets. “Our executive vice president of sales and I had the idea of building some kind of business around a digital solution,” recounts Tempt president Michael Draver. “We acquired the assets of All-American Graphics back in late 2008 with the idea of being more active in digital, in-store, P-O-P-type products.” The Tempt division, in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, now has about 27 employees.

The company’s primary market is in retail—“signage programs, promotional graphics, things like that,” says Draver. “Our retail and brand marketing clients kept telling us they wanted to do more segmented, shorter runs. In 2009 we installed the Inca Onset S70 in order to better provide that service.”

At the same time, the company acquired a Kongsberg cutting table with the i-cut sensing system. “It offered good features, flexibility with different materials, different cutting heads and blades, things of that nature,” says Draver. The company cuts a wide range of materials, including paperboard, foamcore, corrugated, and various plastics, according to Draver. One feature he especially appreciates is the extension table they purchased for the cutter.

“In effect, we have a double-wide table,” he explains. “I can have two 60- x120-inch sheets on the machine at the same time. With most setups, after you’re done cutting, you have to stop and scrap those pieces out. But ours is twice as long, with a belt. After I’m done cutting, the machine moves the first sheet out of the way and moves another one into position to cut, so I can keep cutting while I’m scrapping. It has a sheet feeder on it as well. It was a custom solution put together on the basis of the print solution we were buying.”