September '23

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3 2 G R A P H I C S P R O • S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 3 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M S I G N A G E & P R I N T I N G can cost from $6,000 on up. ere are benefits for these indus- trial machines as they will last a lot longer in a high production environment and can often have features not available in the lower volume segment. e semi-automatic systems are signifi- cantly more expensive but have the added benefit of easing the process of working with SEG graphics and running very quickly. Both automated and hand-action grommet machines are avail- able. Which is the best choice? Both pieces of equipment are valuable and again, the choice really comes down to the volume of work in the shop. A high pro- duction facility will more than likely have an automated grom- met machine which will automatically punch and grommet the fabric, but a smaller shop with less volume can function just as well with a hand-action, manual grommet machine. Q: How can this equipment increase productivity and profit? A: Higher end sewing machines are faster and can increase productivity, but you still need talented sewers to produce the high-end finished product that customers expect. Additionally, by bringing the finishing in-house, a print provider can further control costs, scheduling and manage the entire project to ensure a high level of quality and increase efficiencies. Interestingly, the semi-automatic sewing systems lessen the learning curve of sew- ing fabric (especially for SEG applications). Often times, we see printer or cutter operator running these systems. Q: What are the various finishing options and their applications? A: Finishing techniques really depend on the final application and need. Here are some common ones: • Pole pocket — mostly used for hanging banners. e poles are inserted in the top and the bottom. Equipment: sewing machine or welder. • Grommets — not often done in fabric, mostly used for vinyl. Equipment: grommeting machine • Hems — for finished edges, seams, and multiple panels. Equipment: sewing machine, welder • SEG — sewing of a silicon or vinyl gasket to fabric. is in turn stretched into a frame with a small channel (usually an aluminum frame). Equipment: sewing machine and the frame. Q: What are some of the challenges in running a finish- ing department? A: One big challenge is finding skilled labor that can sew. Another challenge is having the space to stage large graphics. When bringing in fabric printing (along with large banners in gen- eral), it is important to properly plan the space so there is enough room to stage graphics for finishing. In addition, if the final graph- ics are being used on a stretch frame, it is advisable to stage the frame and attach the graphics to the frame for proper fitment. Q: What are some of the trends in the finishing arena? A: As far as trends go, it seems that many PSPs are continuing to look for ways to minimize the steps in the production process with equipment that is faster and used for various applications. Shop owners want consistency, reliability and more and more are bringing finishing in-house to cut down on outside sourc- ing and fulfillment. Many PSPs are looking at ways to finish graphics more efficiently to improve their turnaround time and reduce labor costs. Equipment such as faster sewing machines, automated x/y cutters with fabric attachments and welding units designed for textile are some of the products shops are looking to invest in for future. GP The sewing station is an important part of any sign shop that's serious about tackling dye-sublimation work. A serger is a type of sewing machine that can create a stitch with two, three or even four threads, and can also cut the edge of the fabric automatically to create a finished edge.

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