Llandrillo Menai Group invests in Graphtec cutter from Graphtec GB

The versatile Graphtec cutter allows the college to provide vocational training in a broad range of signage and display applications.

Investing in a Graphtec CE7000-60 digital cutting machine provides more practical and financial control over projects

The Llandrillo Menai Group (LMG) was established in 2012 following the mergers between Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai and Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor. It employs over 2,000 staff and delivers courses to around 21,000 students, including more than 1,500 higher education students, across Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Gwynedd.

The Group’s objective is to support the economy of North Wales by equipping local people with the skills and qualifications needed to ensure the region’s competitiveness and success. It offers a wide range of courses, high-quality learning experiences, first-class facilities, and talented staff, all of which contribute to the achievement of these goals.

Gavin Roberts, Motor Vehicle Lecturer at LMG, says, “Our mission of ‘Improving People’s Futures’ captures what we are about as a further education organisation. Although delivering successful qualifications is essential to us, we also significantly impact social cohesion and economic development. We aim to be at the heart of our communities and be the skills engine that drives the success of North Wales.”

Bringing innovation in-house

In May 2024, LMG invested in a Graphtec CE7000-60 digital cutting machine. Gavin says, “On our Vehicle Refinishing courses we try to ‘stretch and challenge’ our students to push their skills further than what is expected on their qualification. Until now, we have had to outsource cutting stencils to external suppliers, which takes time and is quite costly. We decided that by investing in our own cutting machine, we would have more practical and financial control over these projects. We also thought this could help us branch out into more signage and display graphics projects.”   

He continues, “We also wanted to make this service available to other departments within the college and felt the Graphtec machine had the functionality and versatility to do this. The other key benefit to having a machine in-house is that staff and students could use it themselves, adding to their experience and learning.”

Working with Graphtec GB

The Graphtec cutter arrives at Llandrillo college

Supporting local communities and businesses is an important goal for LMG, and they were very pleased to have one of the country’s leading providers of large-format finishing machines in their region. “Graphtec GB were independently recommended to us, and we invited them to discuss our requirements. They demonstrated the Graphtec CE-7000 to us and showed us how it met all our requirements. It looked an excellent choice for us, and this is the machine we went for,” he explains.

“Shortly afterwards, they installed the machine, providing us with professional training and ensuring we were happy and ready to go. We were provided a full overview of the machine, including using the Graphtec software. Graphtec GB did a great job and went above and beyond to ensure we made the best choice.”

Using the Graphtec cutter

The cutter has been installed, and the college enjoys seeing what it can do. Gavin adds, “We will initially use the machine to cut stencils for airbrushing onto vehicles. This means we will have immediate cost savings as we no longer have to outsource this work. We have set up the equipment in a room in our Vehicle Body Repair Centre to create projects for assignments, including artwork for project cars, custom design, and application of window and paint protective film (PPF).

“Applying PPF and window film has become a huge part of the vehicle care industry. PPF provides additional protection for vehicles and looks great when applied well. This is an important and exciting career skill, and we are delighted to offer our learners the tools and technology they need to fully embrace it in our workshop and then be able to take it into a working environment.”

He continues, “As well as saving money, having the Graphtec will make planning and completing projects faster and more fulfilling. When we outsourced, we might have to wait a week before the stencil was returned. Now, our learners can develop an idea and make it come to life much more quickly. This makes the process much more efficient, adds ongoing improvement to the projects and gives them a more comprehensive learning experience.”

Encouraging young people

Ellen Wain, Business Development Manager from Graphtec GB, worked closely with the college to help them select the right machine. She says, “There has been a lot of talk in the sign and display industry about the need to encourage more young people into the trade. This is a great example of how colleges can help their learners to have a broader understanding of the technology used by our industry and hopefully foster long-lasting interest.”

She continues, “I have seen during my visits how engaged the students are with the technology. It makes a huge difference for them to be able to use the machine themselves and learn what it can do and how they can get the most from it. So much more than simply sending it to an outsourcing company and waiting for the product to return. It also means that each time they create a graphic, they learn a bit more and can constantly push the boundaries of their own learning and the machine itself.”

Gavin adds, “Our plan is to incorporate the Graphtec machine as widely as possible across the campus. The cutter works with a wide range of materials, such as Mylar, low-tack vinyl, and PPF film for vehicles; heat transfer and film for textile production; and pen plotting film for CAD work. The applications are limitless, and we will encourage sharing across the site and possibly consider adding another machine to complement the workflow.”

He concludes, “I can’t speak highly enough of Graphtec GB. They have gone above and beyond to understand our operations and requirements and have provided a fantastic solution. They have been knowledgeable, friendly and supportive throughout, and we are very happy with the solution they have delivered and how they have delivered it. We are now very excited to see how the Graphtec cutter is going to drive greater learning, innovation and efficiency for the Llandrillo Menai Group.”

Read more from Graphtec GB on Eye on Display

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