WidInovations Laser Cutter “WidLaser S1000” from Graphtec GB adds new dimension for Manor Signs

The WidLaser S1000 was installed at Manor Signs in the summer of 2023, and it soon settled in to become a vital part of the company’s workflow and production process.

New dimensions: WidLaser S1000
Gareth and Becky Craythorne with the WidLaser S1000

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Manor Signs is one of the leading sign-makers in Buckinghamshire, with a host of local and national clients. Founded in 1991 in Amersham, the company was part-owned by Gareth and Becky Craythorne since 2016 and then taken over in 2018 when it moved to larger, more practical premises in Aylesbury.

“As the business has grown, so has our investment in larger equipment,” says Gareth. He adds, “Amersham was our home, but the site we had in Amersham was very central, and while it was great for our awareness, it didn’t give us the space we needed to match our growth. Having made the move to a much larger workshop and office space, we have been able to invest in the sort of equipment that helps us meet more customers’ needs.”

Manor Signs specialises in all types of signage and is always looking to innovate and invest where appropriate. Shortly after the move, the company made some significant investments, including a 3m x 2m CNC router, a hybrid roll-to-roll/flatbed HP Latex printer and a BubbleJet applicator table, which opened up a whole new range of applications it could offer.

New dimensions: WidLaser S1000
Fine detail: WidLaser S1000

Gareth explains, “The router was an excellent investment for us and gave the business a huge boost in terms of what we were able to deliver for customers. However, while the CNC router is excellent for cutting large items and basic shapes, it doesn’t have the fine-detail cutting and quality finish that many of our customers ask for. We were still having to outsource this work, but we were very keen to bring it in-house. This is when we decided to invest in a laser cutter.”

Gareth visited the Graphtec GB stand at last year’s Sign & Digital UK exhibition and saw the WidLaser S1000 in action and was blown away, “The accuracy and sharpness of the cut with the WidLaser is incredible, and we could see immediately that this would be the right solution for us. The detail it can produce on materials like acrylic is light-years ahead of what we were doing before, and we made the decision to purchase the S1000,” says Gareth.

He adds, “The WidLaser seemed to tick all the boxes for us. It has a rotary option and adjustable bed heights, so we can work with different materials with different thicknesses. It also has a larger bed size, which means it fits in neatly with some of our larger production work. We investigated other machines and felt this was the right one for us.”

The WidLaser S1000 was installed at Manor Signs in the summer of 2023, and it soon settled in to become a vital part of the company’s workflow and production process. “This was a whole new area for us, so we took the time to understand the machine and the technology properly. Even for more basic plotters, you need to understand the media you are using and adjust pressures and so on accordingly. It’s the same with a laser, but probably even more so because the range of products it can cut is that much greater,” he says.

The WidLaser S1000 Ceramic Laser is a customisable and user-friendly cut and engraving system from the Portuguese laser manufacturer WidInovations. It is an efficient and versatile alternative to a CNC cutter with a large 1600mm x 1000mm active working area. It is ideal for cutting a range of materials, such as acrylic, MDF, wood, fabric and leather. It can also engrave acrylic, MDF and wood, as well as etch onto coated metals, glass, stone and slate.

New dimensions: WidLaser S1000

Ease of use

The Widlaser S1000 is a very straightforward machine to use, with easy access to the cutting bed. “We simply put the material onto the bed and line it up with the register, and the software does the rest,” says Gareth, adding, “You can adjust the orientation points to anywhere on the substrate, which means we can minimise the amount of waste we generate. We try to use every possible part of the material.”

The jobs Manor Signs are doing with the WidLaser S1000 generally require something that looks classy and elegant. “The sheer accuracy and intricacy we can deliver with the laser is incredible. We have created some lovely items for businesses like hotels, where style is everything. For example, a prestigious hotel we work for wanted some engraved do not disturb signs for their rooms, and we provided some great-looking leaf designs on them. Companies want to have those sorts of touches for their customers, and we are delighted to be able to provide them,” he says.

WidLaser S1000 used on sign for Dr. Challenor's School
WidLaser S1000 used on sign for Dr. Challenor’s School

“The WidLaser S1000 has added a new dimension to the range of applications and customers that we now work with. In our business, it is really important to be able to offer customers what they need, so they don’t go to other sign-makers if we can’t deliver. We are always looking at the range of services we can offer, and with the laser cutter, we have filled a broad area of solutions that we simply couldn’t match before.”

Gareth has been particularly pleased with the help and support he has received from the team at Graphtec GB. “All the way through the selection, installation and training process, the Graphtec GB guys have been excellent. This is a complex piece of machinery that requires expert support to get up and running as quickly as possible. I felt throughout that the team were always doing their best for us, understood our business and what we needed to do and did a great job getting the system operating at peak performance.”

He concludes, “We are still learning, and I think we’ll never stop learning what the capabilities and potential of this machine are. I’ll probably retire before we’ve exhausted all the possibilities! The important thing for us is that it is opening doors and helping us move into markets and businesses that we’ve never tapped into before. The WidLaser has been a fantastic investment, and we are looking forward to seeing where it will take us over the coming months and years.”

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