Finishing Equipment Reports

Beyond basics for your print shop

Beyond-basics-for-your-print-shop-cover
CNC laser applications at Sinlopond booth, APPPEXPO 2018.

Having a print shop is a real challenge when you are starting, with all the competition and everything you need to learn from scratch it can be exhausting. But what about when everything is taken care of and you are willing to step up and upgrade your business? If this is the case, there are several options and different ways to do it. We can guide you by mentioning some ways to start.

Buying new equipment isn’t necessarily an easy job, and you need to lay the cards on the table and define the track you want to follow. That’s why we to give you some ideas of the equipment you could buy in order to get you where you want.

For starters and assuming you already own at least one or two printers (maybe more), the next step for going a level up is to think about getting a laminator, a CNC router, or maybe a laser cutter. It really depends of the approach and the target of your business, but we are listing some types of equipment, features and its different applications inside the industry so you can decide what’s best for you and your print shop.

 

Coaters and laminators

Looking for a more professional finish for your printed material to offer to your clients? Having a laminator is a good choice to purchase. They can add a big plus to the strength, durability, stability, sound insulation, etc. of your products. Inside the printing industry the most common laminators are: roll-to-roll and liquid or cold laminators. These are some pros and cons about both:

Heated roll-to-roll uses heat to melt the glue through the roller to apply it to the substrate.

Pros: Laminate supplies are cheaper than cold supplies.

Cons: Some substrates are incompatible with heat. Presses are way more expensive than cold laminators.

Cold roll-to-roll uses a plastic film, which has an adhesive back that has to be removed to laminate.

Pros: Does not require expensive equipment. This process can work for a wide range of materials including substrates for the sign industry and also for PVC and stainless steel.

Cons: Needs the right sort of tension to avoid air bubbles or cringing the surface of the film. The supplies are more expensive than heated roll-to-roll.

AKPAR_booth_finishing_laminator_4955

Akpar laminator at SIGN Istanbul 2018.

Liquid Lamination even though there are manual ways to make liquid lamination, UV-coating is a more industrial way to get the job done. This is a process in which the resin is applied to the substrate and cured with UV lamps. It has a glossier finish and it creates a fingerprint and scratches barrier.

Pros: Resins make the substrate an even longer lasting product. Costs of products are cheaper than lamination and it has a minimal waste. Resin excess can be re-used on other batches.

Cons: It involves making a high initial investment due to the equipment prices. It can easily attract dust during the application, so the environment conditions are crucial.

Welte_Burkle_booth_coater_9339

Welte Burkle booth at FESPA 2017.

CNC

Getting a CNC router may be a good idea if you want to upgrade your print shop to do new applications using materials like wood, composites, aluminum, plastics, etc. It could bring a new world of opportunities and new clients. They can be used for hundreds of applications and even though some people consider them only for 2D products, the reality is that they can be used for many more amazing 3D pieces using assemblies and unions.

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Woodpecker CNC router at APPPEXPO 2018.

Some of the products you can make with a CNC router inside the industry are POP material, interior and exterior decoration, furniture, wood panels, sign boards, door carvings, etc.  There are different types of CNC’s but here are some of the most common:

Routers are used to cut different types of materials such as wood, metal or plastic through a software where you can input the information in the computer. It can operate 2D and 3D cuts due to its X, Y and Z-axis.

Pros: It can cut a wide variety of materials and also engrave them.

Cons: The working times are very slow and the error range is bigger because of the drill diameter.

SUDA_MC-1325_CNC_Router_4604

SUDA CNC router at APPPEXPO 2018.

Plasma cutters operate with X and Y-axis with a plasma torch. They are generally used to cut through metal sheets, metal plates, straps, bolts, pipes etc.

Pros: working times are way faster compared to a router.

Cons: It may only be used for metals and only for cutting.

Ruijie_Plasma_CNC_machine_0881

Plasma CNC at APPPEXPO 2016.

Laser cutters and engravers operate with a laser, these types of machines are used to achieve thinner layers, but it can also cut a wide variety of materials. CO2 lasers are the highest-power continuous wave lasers.

Fiber laser cutters can be as fast as plasma.

Pros: They can be used with almost any kind of materials that goes from any kind of paper, to wood, plastics, etc.

Cons: It’s not as powerful as plasma or routers, it also has an error range to consider before cutting.

BaiSheng_CNC_Laser_4458

Laser engraver at APPPEXPO 2018.

So if you are ready to take the next step for your business, you may consider getting any of these options depending on your needs. There are several brands in the market but that will be determined directly by your budget and focus.

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