3D lettering and fabric cutting now automated and in-house for increased efficiency and the potential to offer new value-added services
London & Hampshire based Symbiosis has invested in a Kongsberg C60 from CMYUK. The digital cutting table was initially purchased for the cutting of digitally printed textiles and 3D lettering. Prior to its arrival, the production of 3D lettering was outsourced, while all printed roll materials were cut manually.
The installation of the Kongsberg C60 in October last year, has made an immediate impact. “Compared to cutting by hand, I would say we’re now about 97% quicker. Before the installation of the Kongsberg, we were pulling printed roll material across a 1.4m wide table and cutting graphics manually, rolling them up, and then pulling the material across the table again to cut the next piece,” says Nigel Targett, who along with Vanessa Okell, Operations Director, founded the business 20 years ago.
Symbiosis specialises in national and international exhibition stands, shell schemes, signs, and graphics. Handling every element from initial 3D design, graphics, artwork, build (incorporating AI and LED if necessary), shipping, installation, and storage, it works with big brands across business and technology, food and farming, FX and games, travel and tourism, health and medical, marine and environment, design, print, education, and retail industries.
Over the past two decades, the business has been part of the migration to soft signage. For the ten years, the company was buying in print which at the time was output onto rigid sheet materials such as Dibond and Foamex
Textiles offered the exhibitions industry so many advantages – lighter, easier carriage, less damage, reusability, and cheaper storage solutions.
“Textiles also promised a seamless finish. It was a natural evolution in the way that nobody today really wants a 43-inch TV, they all want 65-inch screens or large panels for their walls,” says Nigel.
These days Symbiosis prints 90% of its work to textile and is a UK partner to beMatrix, the temporary modular frame system designed for exhibition stands, congress walls, pop-ups, retail, indoor and outdoor events.
In 2019 the company purchased a Mimaki UJV55-320 UV LED 3.2m dedicated roll-to-roll printer from CMYUK as well as its inks and high performing recyclable textiles.
Like many businesses working in the exhibitions and events sectors, the Pandemic pressed a big pause button. However, due to sound financial management, the company was able to ride out the storm diversifying with the production of dinning pods for use in commercial and domestic environments.
It roared out of restrictions in September 2021 with large projects commissioned for the Southampton International Boat Show and the Health & Safety Event 2021, and has continued to gain momentum, in line with pre-Pandemic growth projections.
While the in-house printing production cycle was performing well, the cutting side of the business needed attention to increase speed, quality, and efficiency. Symbiosis had an existing Zund cutter, which while ample for rigid materials couldn’t handle the production requirements of 3.2m roll textiles.
After approaching CMYUK, the Symbiosis SMT was invited to evaluate the Kongsberg C60 digital cutting table at the supplier’s demonstration and training facility in Shrewsbury.
At 3.2m wide, the Kongsberg C60 is designed to keep abreast of fast printer speeds of today and tomorrow and is the first multi-tasking finisher for all display, signage, and packaging applications.
With a working bed area of 3210mm x 1600mm, this digital cutting table can handle pretty much any substrate from thin flexibles to foam, fluted materials, textiles, aluminium, rubber, carpets, wood, and much more. A wide format roll feeder can be added to the table to support heavy duty roll materials up to 3330mm wide.
Says Nigel, “The Kongsberg C60 is such a versatile piece of kit. We can produce our 3D letters on the same equipment that we use to cut our textile roll materials. It’s also modular which means we can add various tool heads as and when we see fit. We’re going to explore the options further, so we can see what other value-added services we can offer.”