Achieving optimum effects with an Esko Kongsberg X24
Matt Austin, the owner and Managing Director of Optimum Signs originally studied furniture and product design at university and now, two decades later, he’s using those skills to fabricate a bespoke Cinderella pumpkin carriage-style bed with a little help from an Esko Kongsberg X24 digital cutting table.
The X24 cutter, which Matt purchased from CMYUK, is the standard sign configuration that comes complete with router, kiss cut knife, drag knife and a camera system for perfect print to cut registration. It also features a conveyorised bed for handling roll-to-roll media.
The purchase was initially needed in order to help fulfil a sizeable trade job for a major retail collaboration, which involved applying standard vinyl to 16,000 pre–routed lacquered MDF panels. However, the trade customer developed an issue with its CNC router, and was about to pull the plug on the project when Matt decided to buy a digital cutter and save the day.
Matt’s first port of call was to Sue Hayward, a trusted sales contact, who is now a Senior Digital Sales Consultant at CMYUK. Matt was invited to CMYUK’s demonstration showroom in Shrewsbury, where he met Nick Reed, CMYUK’s Esko Business Manager who introduced him to the considerable benefits of the X24.
Happily, it was a case of love at first sight, and the Kongsberg X24 was swiftly despatched to Preston, with Matt receiving one-to-one training from CMYUK.
The Kongsberg X24 now forms a central hub at Optimum Signs that inspires fresh ideas and concepts, and, most importantly, also attracts new customers. In addition, it has automated many of the company’s processes, saving time and money. For example, Optimum produces 750 signs every three to four months on a constant rollover for one client. This was a job that previously took two and a half to three days to complete, but since the installation of the X24, this has been reduced to four hours, with just an hour and a half of actual operator input.
Matt elaborated: “When we delivered the first job produced on the X24, the client immediately asked whether we had bought it in from somewhere else as the quality was so much better! Previously we had been applying 750 graphics to 750 panels, but now we simply apply graphics to four large panels and the X24 does the rest.”
Optimum produces the full spectrum of signage including everything from digitally printed graphics to traditional neon signs – it is the only UK company that manufactures both neon and LED signage in-house.
Historically, it would buy-in the acrylic casing that surrounds the neon, but thanks to the X24, it is now able to fabricate this in house at a far better quality, as well as producing its own folded Dibond trays and flatcut lettering.
“The X24 has revolutionised the way we work,” confided Matt. “We’re doing so much stuff on it. It’s unbelievable. It’s such an amazing machine!”
He added: “I didn’t realise it, but before we would push a client to work in a certain way because we didn’t want to outsource. However, that’s all changed – now I’m encouraging them to try all sorts of new and more adventurous things!”
The X24 is certainly driving innovation. The latest project Optimum has tackled is the production of a 3D gold crown featuring RGB colour changing LEDs that was commissioned by Rolex for a VIP event it is hosting at Blackburn’s Northcote Manor Hotel.
Established now for ten years, Optimum, which is based in Preston, has steadily built up a reputation for quality and excellence, although Matt readily admits: “I’m such a perfectionist, which can really annoy people sometimes.” However, it was this attention to detail that actually persuaded him that the X24 was the right machine for him.
He continued: “When Nick Reed at CMYUK said the X24 was accurate down to .01 of a millimetre I didn’t believe him, but it’s absolutely true and this accuracy allows us to come up with all types of concepts with confidence, including furniture making, which has always been my passion. Since we acquired the X24, I’ve never looked back.”
For further information on Optimum Signs, visit: www.optimumsigns.co.uk
For further information on the ESKO Kongsberg X24, visit: www.cmyuk.com