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Cutters By Ashley Bray

Investing in new equipment leads to fresh opportunities for a sign company.

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IP Printing of Alaska in Anchorage has been in business since it opened its doors over thirty-five years ago. The company specializes in large format printing while also offering marketing services. A few years ago, the company invested in a number of new pieces of equipment. “We were opening up a new facility,” explains Dana Profeta, digital operations manager of PIP Printing of Alaska (pipalaska.com), “and we were making new investments in equipment really across the board as far as signage went.” One of the new additions was an HP Scitex FB700 Industrial Printer. The shop knew it would have a lot more rigid substrates to cut, so it began looking for a new cutter to handle the increased output.

Using their new cutter, PIP Printing produced a four-by-six-foot HDU identity sign for outside their sign shop. 24

Sign Builder Illustrated

January 2017

Cutter Considerations PIP Printing came across Colex’s Sharpcut Flatbed Cutter at a past ISA Sign Expo. With a five-by-ten-foot bed and the ability to cut substrates they commonly worked with (such as foam-core and Sintra®), the company was sold. Prior to purchasing the Colex® cutter, PIP used straight edges and knives to make straight cuts in rigid media. They outsourced any custom and contour-cut work on rigid substrates, while using a kiss cutter for cuts in vinyl. The new machine allowed them to bring the custom work on rigid substrates in-house, but the shop was still unsure of whether or not the machine would pay off. “It was a little bit of a leap for us because we weren’t requesting that outsourcing enough, in my mind, to justify buying this piece of equipment,” says Profeta. “But as soon as we got it on our floor, all the cutting [jobs] started to come out of the woodwork.”

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Going 3D The cutter also allows for 3D work, which PIP has gotten into recently. Profeta has created a number of samples to get comfortable with 3D work on the machine, including address letters and people’s names on different textures (pictured, page 26). He’s even cut out plywood to make a chair prototype (pictured, right). “We’ve done a handful of runs with HDU board and routing 3D stuff,” he says, “so we feel pretty comfortable with it.” One of the biggest challenges of learning to use the machine for 3D work was changing out tools between passes. “It’s a little bit tricky in that there’s not an automatic tool changer on it,”

says Profeta, “so you rough-cut, then you change the tool out making sure not to move the board, put in your bit for the finish cut, and then start that new file. “And it will go right over what it already did for the rough cut.” At first, Profeta found himself nersignshop.com

Profile for Sign Builder Illustrated

January 2017 Sign Builder Illustrated  

This issue features stories on cutters, routers, standoffs, wayfinding signage, graphics, vinyl graphics, and a special section on illuminat...

January 2017 Sign Builder Illustrated  

This issue features stories on cutters, routers, standoffs, wayfinding signage, graphics, vinyl graphics, and a special section on illuminat...

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