Die Cutting Systems: “Beyond Clamshell Presses–Decalcorama’s Story”; SGIA Journal; Third Quarter 2006

Sometimes the best investment you can make in your staff is the equipment you purchase to make their jobs easier. So says Claude Harpin, who has shepherded his Quebec, Canada, screen printing business, Decalcorama Inc., during its more than 20 percent growth in the last few years.

Decalcorarna, with a staff of 60, is equipped with 12 screen printing presses and two digital presses. They utilize these presses for a full line of promotional products (magnets, mousepads, decals, coasters) and an industrial line of nameplates and decals.

Every product that Decalcorarna prints also must be cut. Until three years ago, much of this cutting was done with clamshell presses, which not only made it difficult to maintain consistently high quality in the ever tighter tolerances that customers require, but also tended to wear out the operators. In 2003, Decalcorama acquired an optically registered, high-precision, die cutting system that fully automates the die cutting finishing step. About half of our current work is in standard shapes, and the other half is in custom designs.

Harpin, General Manager of Decalcorama,
says automating the diecutting process and investing in a high-precision, optically registered gap press adding that waste already is in the tub of the machine. “This means that the operator doesn’t need to do very much work.”

The automated die cutting system that Decalcorama selected (a Spartanics M500) uses electro-optical sensors to scan and record registration marks at production rates of up to 165 strokes per minute. The system delivers consistent precision and registration accuracy in X, Y and rotational axes within +/- 0.1 mm (.004 inch) or better. It does so in part because it re-registers at every press stroke instead of only once on a sheet. The system cuts through a wide range of paper, plastic and metal materials. It is the only optically registered, die cutting system that automatically repositions the dies in the same place with each job. This streamlines the set-up time to just minutes and makes for quick changeovers, a feature that is important to many screen printers such as Decalcorama. It also is the only optically-registered die cutting system with a modular design, which enables different screen printing operations to configure input and output modules as varied as the jobs they handle. The model system that Decalcorama selected handles sheeted materials up to 730 mm (29 inches) x 760 mm (30 inches) and coiled materials up to 760 mm (30 inches) wide. The modular design also means that loaner modules can he provided for guaranteed uptime during maintenance and routine servicing.

Why is Decalcorama growing while other screen printers are struggling? Harpin says he doesn’t think there is any one explanation. Rather, the growth reflects the accumulated good decisions Decalcorama’s management team has made and the investments made in their plant and staff. Employee turnover at Decalcorama is quite low – many of the employees have been with the company since it started up in 1969 in the basement of company Founder Jean-Guy Dulude. Harpin says he didn’t plan for the business to grow so rapidly in the past few years. But he notes there is a steady supply of people and companies who are hungry for the types of promotional products they create and industrial firms that seek the high quality that Decalcorama delivers.

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