Cut it out
Cut it out
The increasingly sophisticated process of die cutting has seen a number of exciting developments in recent years, as well as the continued appreciation of well-established techniques. Emma-Jane Batey speaks to leading names in the die-cutting sector to learn how value cuts both ways.
Used across the converting sector, die cutting is a friend of materials including paperboard, corrugated fibreboard, paper, plastics and foil. Treading the line between innovation and continuity, die-cutting machine manufacturers and the users of those machines are well aware that performance and reliability are key.
At Preston-based manufacturer of die-cutting machines Diecut UK, its young, vibrant team is making a real difference in what can be a relatively slow-to-change industry. Its broad range of die-cutting machines all come with a 'complete solution' promise, with a fast response to any issues.
Established more than twenty years ago, Diecut UK has grown steadily, providing die-cutting machines across the corrugated, carton or point-of-sale and commercial printing industries. Offering both new and pre-owned machines, the team prides itself on listening to each customer in order to select the best machine for their needs. The two core machines are the Goldline, a manual die cutter for all corrugated, print finishing and carton sectors, including lower volumes and challenging substrates. With no need for full-body access, the Goldline is significantly safer than traditional alternatives. The second is the Redline range, with a choice of six press sizes in this technically advanced semiautomatic machine, which offers a fast job changeover speed and is easy to maintain.
Safe and sound
“The Goldline is a really exciting development here at Diecut UK,” managing director Steve Waterhouse tells Converting Today. “It's a great workhorse as it's totally reliable and really does its job. It's very different to the traditional clamshell, which can be scary to operate, especially at larger volumes. We pretty much developed it on the road with the SMP Group and the whole process has been so rewarding for all of us.”
The 'no nonsense team' at Diecut UK has made quite an impact on the die-cutting industry, with its straight-talking, results-driven approach much appreciated. Waterhouse adds: “Our team definitely has character. We strive to be the number one service provider for die-cutting machines in the UK, and we really try to look after our team as they look after the customers. We know our machines are great, so the right people are what keeps customers coming back. We're about to open our US office in Q2 2017 and we'll be bringing our unique character to the other side of the pond, too.”
SMP Group is certainly a satisfied customer of Diecut UK. Based in South London, SMP Group is dedicated to point-of-sale and visual merchandising, with its award-winning range of creative solutions used by clients including many leading retailers. SMP Group has recently invested in a new Goldline die cutting machine from Diecut UK in order to further boost its safety and productivity.
“One of our old Viking clamshell platens is nearing its sell-by-date so we decided to buy another Goldline to replace it,” says SMP Group finishing director Rick Bleek. The main reasons for buying it are safety and speed of use. Productivity will be increased because of the ease of use – they're much more efficient and a lot safer than the old clamshell machines.
“We have a good relationship with Diecut UK and its managing director Steve Waterhouse,” Bleek continues. “He's done everything we've asked of him in the past and maintains all of our machines, even the older ones that we have. Diecut UK build machines for safety, and this puts them at the forefront of the industry. As a company, we are always looking for ways in which to innovate, both internally and for our clients. We work closely with our sister company, Breed Communications, and our clients know that the entire point-of-sale and visual merchandising process from concept to delivery in store can be effectively and efficiently managed by SMP. We are always looking for new materials and fresh ways we can develop our offering and we regularly meet with suppliers to discuss new requests. Investing in new machinery like the Goldline die-cutting machine is very much a part of that.”
Investing in quality and reliability is very much on offer from Sanwa UK, too. Originally established as an engineering company in Japan in 1941, Sanwa started its association with the Mitsubishi Printing Division over five decades ago and, through this initial production of feeder and delivery units for the company's sheet-fed printing machines, has continued to develop and manufacture automatic die-cutting machines.
Sanwa UK is the UK arm of the global company, with Duncan Tasker in charge of the Wakefield-based operation. “We have over twenty years' experience in serving the UK printing and packaging industry,” Tasker tells Converting Today. “It's a very busy time for us and I spend a lot of my time on site, directly working with our customers and making sure there Sanwa machines are running smoothly and are offering the best possible service. Since the arrival of the first Sanwa Automatic Die Cutting Platen in the UK in the late 1980s, we've continued to grow and our reputation has been steadily growing too. This is because of the quality and reliability of the Sanwa products, combined with the commitment from Sanwa UK to provide customers with a comprehensive after-sales service.”
The Sanwa UK team includes a number of dedicated technicians on call to quickly deal with any mechanical, technical or electrical issues. Tasker elaborates: “We have various service contracts to suit the needs of our customers so that their Sanwa Platen is always performing to its maximum ability. We also have a centralised spare parts store here in Wakefield that addresses our customers concerns regarding spare parts availability; we can quickly delivery parts across the UK and Europe. As one of the leaders in manufacturing and supplying automatic die cutting machines, we know that reliability and quality, alongside a comprehensive after-sales service, are what helps to keep us at the top of our game.”
Voice of the industry
The not-for-profit representative association for the corrugated board manufacturers, The European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers (FEFCO), is the voice of the industry. Headquartered in Brussels, the role of FEFCO is to investigate economic, financial, technical and marketing issues of interest to the corrugated-packaging industry. As such, the trends and challenges of die cutting, which is particularly used by the corrugated-board industry, is part of its remit.
With die cutting often associated with particularly precise and complex packaging, FEFCO is including it as an element of its upcoming 2017 Technical Seminar. The aim of the seminar, set to be held in October in Austria, is to bring together buyers and suppliers of corrugated packaging machinery and systems from across Europe and the world. Nathalie Schneegans, FEFCO's communications director, explains: “FEFCO is here to provide the expertise and support that is needed by the corrugated industry decision makers and employees of the sector. We provide a unique and trusted source of information and we ensure that our members are permanently informed about the developments that may have an impact on the corrugated-packaging industry. We are here to analyse all factors that may influence the industry, and to promote and develop the industry's image.”