Leaving a mark
We are expanding on our core range, so that we are producing products which are more in line with modern trends,” says Martyn Wright, managing director of Clevedon-based Brunel Engraving Company.
Wright continues: “Because designers are creating more complicated designs, it means that there are a lot of products that cannot be engraved, but they can be created with a print process. So we have moved into this area, enabling us to provide an expanded service to our current customers. We are utilising different processes if people specify that is what they want.”
The company expanded during 2012, growing its workforce, and investing approximately 10 percent of turnover in new equipment and IT.
The investments we have made have produced great rewards, because we have seen our turnover increase,” adds Wright.
Because designers are creating more complicated designs, it means that there are a lot of products that cannot be engraved, but they can be created with a print process. So we have moved into this area, enabling us to provide an expanded service to our current customer”
Interestingly, the company is not planning to move across into sign-making, but is instead focused on engraving on to small nameplates, its core product.
“These are two different trades and we believe, in order to do either well you have to specialise in one or the other, and this is what we do,” explains Broad, adding: “We are not sign-makers we are engravers, and we are going into printing on to vinyl and things of this nature to produce something which will compliment our existing lines. We are utilising sign-making machines to produce something which would compliment our engraved products.”
Brunel has instead set up an engraving service to its trade customers and sign-makers.
Broad adds: “We work in partnership with some sign-makers should an order require signage, and this makes our service to our customers much stronger as a result. This to us is a much more efficient way of working as opposed to moving into sign making ourselves.”
Clevedon-based Brunel Engraving Company are expanding on their core range and
are using print processes to comply with modern trends
First Signs and Labels, have noticed the demand for traditional engraving on to brass
and stainless steel increase
First Signs and Labels, based in Bishop’s Stortford, originally launched as a specialist engraving company more than 25 years ago, but has since diversified into other areas of the industry by opening signage and screen printing departments.
The company decided to expand into these areas to increase their market share, and ultimately grow profits, but has kept true to its engraving roots as it has seen a solid demand for traditional engraving techniques.
“A growing trend which we have spotted is that customers who have in the past requested plastic signage, are now choosing engraved and routed signs,” comments Matthew Lilley, screen print manager for First Signs.
He continues: “I believe this is down to the durability the engraved signs offer. There are always new and exciting material coming onto the market for sign making. However an engraved Stainless Steel sign has such impact and quality that cannot be replicated by other materials.”
Although he believes there will always be a demand for this traditional form of engraving, Lilley adds that it is difficult to predict if this trend will continue to gain momentum in the coming months, as there will undoubtedly be many new materials introduced on to the market which people will want to try.
The engraving department at First Signs currently use two CNC routers, which can create large engraved signs to complicated and bespoke shaped labels and signs. The company has come to rely on this machinery as demand for engraving has grown.
Lilley adds: “These machines are working flat out as we are constantly finding new work from all business types. We expect the demand for signs and labels made on the routers to grow again this year, and we are looking to add to our equipment in the coming months.”
A growing trend which we have spotted is that customers who have in the past requested plastic signage, are now choosing engraved and routed signs”
As well as supporting existing engravers and aiding their expansion, laser equipment such
as the i-Cut from Trotec, has helped pave the way for sign-makers wanting to diversify into the
Laser technology is also assisting specialist engravers in increasing market share.
With laser technology so versatile, and the employment market changing from hands on skills to computer literacy, many traditional engraving companies consider investing in a laser rather than replacing old style equipment.
“Laser power is the key to productivity,” says Andrew Campling, sales representative for Trotec Laser in the south east and London.
He adds: “We have noticed a move of the starting point for power levels from 60 to 80 Watts, just an additional 20 Watt increases the output by a third, a significant improvement for the extra investment.”
With many companies having already invested in wide-format digital printing, Trotec expects more sign-makers to invest or to consider investing in laser technology.
Campling says: “When compared to mechanical methods of engraving or routing with a cutter, a laser is much more efficient and, vitally important today, cleaner.”
Trotec’s i-Cut solution for contour cutting, uses a camera to set up on printed registration marks. The camera is mounted to the processing head of the laser and registers the dimensions of the print by reading the registration marks before the cutting process. By comparing the marks of the impression with the target position in the original cutting file, i-Cut can detect and compensate any deviations.
Trotec claim that during this process, the software will not only correct rotations, it also adapts the cutting path if the impression is distorted or inclined.
As well as supporting existing engravers and aiding their expansion, laser equipment such as the i-Cut, has helped pave the way for sign-makers wanting to diversify into the engraving sector.
“The laser represents an ideal add on to any sign making company,” comments Campling.
He adds: “When using a laser, acrylic letters and shapes are cut with ‘flame polished edges’, and labels and signs can be engraved and cut in one operation. A wide range of materials can be processed, and stainless steel signage can be easily and efficiently produced with laser marking sprays such as Cermark.”
When compared to mechanical methods of engraving or routing with a cutter, a laser is much more efficient and, vitally important today, cleaner”
Trotec say that like any other piece of machinery, the key to making money with a laser is to maximise it’s usage, and to fully understand and utilise the versatility of laser processing, for example being able to process, paper, card, textiles, plastics and metals.
Trotec’s laser software, JobControl X, has been designed to maximise laser potential by saving settings for repeat jobs, reducing set-up time and the risk of errors.
Campling says: “The software also includes a material database: pre-defined materials save set up time and the database can be added to as your own work dictates. For the security of your business, the complete material database can be locked against changes.
“Very few pieces of equipment are so versatile and so intuitive. A laser purchased for an initial application often finds itself adding value to a business in other areas.”
Whether choosing to venture into new sectors of the industry and expand your offering, or continuing to concentrate on your core market, there is a range of equipment and software out there that can help you along the way.
Easy handling machines are designed with the sign-maker wanting to move into engraving in mind, but can be greatly beneficial to a specialist engraver, saving time and money, and allowing a business to invest, grow its workforce, and ultimately increase turnover.
As one business has proved, trends go in and out of fashion, so it is vital to be versatile, developing laser technology will almost certainly aid businesses in this in the coming months.
When using a laser, acrylic letters and shapes are cut with ‘flame polished edges’, and labels and signs can be engraved and cut in one operation”