Back to the Future – Graphtec
Director of Graphtec GB, Phil Kneale considers the greatest change in the industry to have been its gradual evolution from traditional sign making to visual identity specialisation. He said: “Today’s signmaker now produces not only signs, but also vehicle and building wraps, exhibition, theatre and related backdrops, POS displays, printwear and promotional products and much more besides. This transformation has been driven by the rapid development of wide-format digital printing technology, which has enabled signmakers to engage fully with these activities.”
He added: “There has been a noticeable migration by signmakers to the print wear and promotional products industry where equipment already installed for core sign manufacturing activities has been adapted to produce a vast range of branded sports and leisure wear, fashion accessories and other forms of corporate ID material. Working in conjunction with all popular printers, Graphtec cutters, particular the CE series, have excelled not only in vinyl cutting applications that remain a major part of any sign business but also in new applications involving the heat transfer materials used widely in the print wear and promotional products sector.
A notable innovation has been the proprietary ARMS (Advanced Registration Mark System) facility that is now incorporated into all Graphtec cutters. The system uses four-point rather than traditional three-point media registration that ensures higher than normal plotting/cutting accuracy and enables a much wider range of materials including, for example flex, flock and rhinestone templates, that might otherwise have proved problematical to process.”
As to the future of the industry, Phil feels that as technology continues to develop, the cost of entry into the sign industry will be commensurately higher. He said: I believe we will not see so many start-up companies emerging and this is a shame. We will also see an increasing number of sign companies, particularly smaller two- and three-person operations, moving into the print wear and promotional products market on the basis that 90 per cent of the equipment already installed for sign and graphics work can be used to tap into this potentially lucrative additional business sector.”