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Phil Kneale

Jo Golding speaks to Phil Kneale of Graphtec GB, someone who knows a thing or two about the trends shaping our industry sector, about the company’s plans for the year

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Phil Kneale, director of Graphtec GB, has led his company to sustained success

A firm hand on the tiller

Graphtec GB is one of the key players in cutting technology. What is the current focus of development and the plans for future growth?

Most recent product developments have focused primarily on the introduction of the new FCX2000 series of flatbed plotter/cutters to be shown for the first time at the forthcoming Sign and Digital UK exhibition.

The new FCX2000 flatbed plotter/cutters offers heavy duty construction and performance

Another key development and one which will also be demonstrated at this event is the I-Mark automatic sheet-fed digital die-cutting machine. With these latest innovations, Graphtec GB has again demonstrated a propensity for supplying products that enable the convergence of the mainstream sign-making with other connected industries such as the print, label production, and packaging sectors.

We have also made new additions to our software portfolio based on products developed by global software specialist SAi for which Graphtec GB is a preferred partner in the UK. These have included the upgraded Flexi 12 sign design and production software program, which now combines a suite of over 40 new design and production tools and a choice of four different editions to accommodate specific user requirements.

Surprisingly, there is still a considerable potential for growth within both the sign and graphics industry and through complementary industries such as the print sector and I am amazed at the level of new business opportunities emerging from these connected industries. At Graphtec GB, we have plans in progress to bring further new products to market that will again reflect the strong ties between, and the similar interests of, these two primary markets. The introduction of the FCX2000 flatbed plotter/cutters, with its much heavier-duty construction by comparison with other more traditional Graphtec plotter/cutters, will offer an advanced solution for the screen-printing, digital printing, and packaging industries, it further demonstrates the similarities of these industries with mainstream sign and graphics production.

There is still a considerable potential for growth within both the sign and graphics industry

Graphtec GB has contracted to exhibit at the new SignLink Live event this year. What influenced this decision and what products will be shown?

We have been carefully monitoring the progress of this event’s sister show, The Print Show. The decision to support Signlink Live was a no brainer, as it neatly covers our two main markets and sits alongside The Print Show. For Signlink Live, Graphtec GB will showcase primarily the new FCX2000 flatbed plotter/cutters.

The decision to support Sign link Live was a no brainer

Which product are you currently particularly excited about?

Undoubtedly, this would have to be the I-Mark automatic sheet-fed digital die-cutting machine. Since the launch of this product at a trade show last year, the response has been nothing short of phenomenal and enquiries have been received from all over the world.

Based on the popular Graphtec CE6000-40 plotter/cutter and I-Mark hardware and software, the machine will handle sheets of varying thicknesses and sizes and is especially suited to short-run label production, digital prints, and packaging applications. A key benefit of the system is that the die-cutting process is carried out automatically to eliminate the need for owners to purchase expensive dies.

Graphtec’s I-Mark automatic digital die cutter varies in thicknesses and in sizes ranging from A4 up to Super A3 (330 x 483mm)

Included in the many notable production-enhancing features of I-Mark is that it is possible to handle up to 120 sheets of material in a single cycle whilst offering the ability to add further sheets as required without interruption of the cutting process. This particular feature is what sets it apart from other similarly positioned die-cutting systems.

As a company continually investing in software, how important is the right software to sign-making?

Extremely important and a basic prerequisite to achieving optimum production output. It is a regrettable fact that software is often treated as a virtual afterthought by many companies and this is a huge mistake. Using the correct and most appropriate software is the linchpin to maximised workflow programs.

In view of our strong and long-standing relationship with SAi, we vigorously promote Flexi Sign software in the UK as a brilliant solution for the sign, graphics, and digital printing industries. I have personally been involved in selling Flexi Sign since 1989 and can unreservedly recommend it as a highly advanced, multi-functional, and fully upgradeable software solution.

SAi’s Flexi software offers a wide variety of features specifically targeted at
sign-making professionals

Starting with the new FCX2000 flatbed plotter/cutters, this year we will be bundling free of charge Graphtec Studio software from the SAi stable with most of our plotter/cutters.

With a presence at Sign and Digital UK this year, what will Graphtec GB show?

Sign and Digital UK will be Graphtec GB’s first trade show in 2017. In addition to the I-Mark automatic sheet-fed digital die-cutting machine and the new FCX2000 flatbed plotter/cutter, Graphtec GB will also demonstrate other examples from its range of plotting/cutting solutions. These will include the upgraded flagship FC8600 that offers a much higher cutting speed and increased cutting force and the CE6000 plotter/cutter that is supplied with a free edition of Graphtec Studio design and production software. Graphtec Studio also provides EPS support for compatibility with other popular software, including Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw.

What makes Graphtec GB stand out in a competitive market?

Notwithstanding the fact that Graphtec has been manufacturing and supplying plotter/cutters for more than 50 years, both globally and in the UK via Graphtec GB, the company is renowned for its customer support capabilities, technical expertise, and product innovations. These are credentials in which we take a particular pride in.

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