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GPS finds its niche in grand format

GPS finds its niche in grand format

When Malcolm Cairns was faced with the prospect of redundancy from his managerial position at a sign and print company, he decided to take the initiative and set up his own sign business in his garage, equipped with only a printer, laminator and guillotine.

However, six years on, during which time his company, Graphic Print & Sign (GPS) has progressively invested in roll-to-roll inkjet and flatbed printers and now offers both wide and grand format printing and finishing services. It’s most recent and perhaps most important investment was the acquisition of a Mimaki 3.2m roll-to-roll UV printer and a complementary 3.2m wide DYSS X7-3220C digital cutter from AG/CAD.

Commenting upon the strategy to invest in grand format, Malcom explained: “The majority of our clients are design and advertising agencies, signmakers, litho printers and large format print companies that don’t have 3.2m wide capacity. The Mimaki UJV55-320 was delivered in November 2016 and the DYSS X7-3220C Super Head followed in January and, as a result, our grand format work has rapidly grown and now accounts for 20 percent of our overall turnover, while our subcontracting costs have decreased commensurately. Better still we are continually winning new customers!”

Malcolm continues: “Once we had installed the Mimaki printer, we knew that we needed a 3.2m wide digital cutting table too, which effectively ruled out most cutting machines. AG/CAD was one of only a couple of suppliers that could offer this width, plus the features we wanted, but we also required a machine with a length of two metres, due to a limited floor area. Only AG/CAD was able to offer an exact fit and this flexibility ensured they won our business.”

“Initially, we visited AG/CAD’s Cheshire headquarters and carried out extensive trials, using fabrics that we had pre-printed on the Mimaki machine, together with Dibond, acrylic, vinyl, Foamex, banners, meshes and even corrugated board. This certainly convinced us that the DYSS X7 was the right machine, as the cut quality was outstanding and AG/CAD was also able to offer a high level of expertise when it came to tooling options for use on different types of material.”

Now producing vinyl, fabric and canvas graphics, plus Foamex and Dibond panels for shopping and retail outlets as well as educational establishments, GPS has certainly found its niche in the North East region. Prior to acquiring the arrival of the DYSS X7-3220C, it employed a full-time member of staff to hand cut all of its work, which was a very labour intensive process.

Malcolm observed: “As a relatively small company, we felt that the business was running us and not vice versa, but now the DYSS has turned this on its head and given us the freedom to focus on other aspects of the business, which will help to propel our growth in the longer term.”

Production Director, Jonathan Cairns added: “From an efficiency perspective, our trio of Mimaki’s would run vinyl and banner rolls overnight, but in the morning we could have a full day of hand cutting. Keeping pace with demand and the printers was proving increasingly difficult. For example, a 50 metre roll of vinyl would take around four hours to hand cut, but it’s now done on the DYSS in 20 minutes, meaning that the work is completed in a fraction of the time.”

The variety of work at Graphic Print & Sign can change on a daily basis and ranges from three metre x 20 metre banners, 50 metre long rolls of vinyl or wallpaper, through to runs of two hundred eight foot x four foot Correx sheets, and much more. A considerable percentage of the work is straight-line cutting, but the profiled shapes that were once subcontracted are now also processed in-house too.

Jonathan Cairns continued: “A lot of our work is fast turnaround and before we had the DYSS X7, all profile cutting was sent for external processing with an average lead-time of three to four days. This disrupted our workflow, while the extended and sometimes unreliable lead-times could also be a concern for customers. The DYSS X7 has brought all this work in-house, enabling us to keep strict control of turnaround times that are often within 24 hours. Equally important for a small business like ours is the fact that we are now saving over £1,000 every month on subcontracting costs.”

As one of only few companies in the north east able to offer both grand format print and matching digital cutting capabilities, GPS can also now run several ‘ganged up’ jobs at the same time, or process two narrower width rolls simultaneously, providing it with the ability to manufacture smaller sheet jobs or narrower roll jobs far more efficiently than its competitors. Accordingly, signmakers and litho companies are commissioning Graphic Print to cut fast-turnaround projects.

To ensure the DYSS X7-3220C handles longer-than-bed jobs accurately from a roll, the machine utilises the intelligent K-CUT Vision System to locate registration marks printed at various points along the roll media and then re-calibrates the cutting paths in accordance with the marks. Fully automatic, this procedure compensates for any drift or stretch on long print jobs to ensure optimal precision and repeatability.

Malcolm reported that AG/CAD also supplied the KASEMAKE CAD software. He said: “From an early stage we appreciated its functionality, ease of use and its ability to integrate with common platforms, such as Illustrator, which helps to streamline our pre-press processes. The KASEMAKE 3D modelling feature even enables us to create 3D PDF files so that customers can review a virtual 3D prototype prior to production. This feature has already proven to be a competitive advantage when we are bidding for new business. We are winning the majority of enquiries and this can regularly be attributed to our skills with the KASEMAKE software.”


For further information on Graphic Print & Sign (GPS), visit:

For further information on AG CAD, visit:

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