By Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 4
Finishing tools are integral to many production processes. Cutting pieces to final shape or trimming excess material from the final piece can be completed in a number of ways, and of course manual has and always will be an option. However, digital or automated technologies continue to make strides in all types of manufacturing facilities.
In this four-part series we take a look at a nameplate manufacturer, promotional company, clothing manufacturer, and a parts manufacturer for outdoor fireplaces and fire pits. All of which utilize digital cutting devices in house and find great advantages with them.
First we head to Lancaster, TX, where family-owned Texas Nameplate celebrates 75 years in business. The company manufactures nameplates, metal panels, labels, decals, and a variety of other parts for customers in the truck and trailer, medical, musical, and oil and gas industries. A staff of 35 employees serve its client base.
Metal nameplates are the core of the business and are chemically etched, screenprinted, metal photo, laser engraved, or stenciled. The company also has printing capabilities in house, specifically to offer labels, decals, and stickers. In addition to these services, the company recently added new equipment that expanded its offerings into metal fabrication.
Finishing with Zund
Many of the projects undertaken by Texas Nameplate involve finishing of some kind, cutting a final part down to size. To achieve this, it relies on digital cutting technology, specifically a Zund America, Inc. S3 M-800, which it purchased two years ago. Prior to the Zünd, it worked with a ten year old piece of equipment.
“We simply outgrew it and needed a machine that could handle the new products and volume we offer,” explains Dan Crownover, product manager, Texas Nameplate.
To get a sense for what was out there, he had the fortune of visiting a competitor’s shop in CA and saw a Zünd digital cutter in action for the first time. “The machine in that shop was roughly 20 years old at the time and the owner told me it was one of the best machines they had ever bought because they had hardly ever had to do any maintenance to it and most of it they could do themselves,” shares Crownover.
Sold on Zünd technology, the Texas Nameplate team began compiling a list of must-have features for its newest device. First, it needed a larger bed size than its previous cutter to accommodate larger sheets. Second, it was looking for something offering user-friendly operation. Thirdly, it wanted a cutter that was backed by excellent service from the manufacturer.
With these considerations in mind, the company chose the Zünd S3 M-800 digital cutter for its production facility, working with Zünd directly to purchase and train its operators. The S3 M-800 model clocks in at a bed size of 54 inches in width by 32 inches in height. It can be equipped with up to two different tools, making it a multifunctional solution. The S3 cutting surface is made of acrylic. The material is held down with vacuum and infinitely adjustable across the width. Energy-efficient vacuum generators ensure optimal material hold down.
“We love the upgrading aspect of the Zünd. It and the Zünd team do not limit you at the time of purchase. You can add more features to your machine even after having/using it for years,” adds Crownover.
The cutter’s versatility in addition to flexibility is one of the biggest game changers for Texas Nameplate. It allows the company to finish a variety of materials, from vinyl, polycarbonate, and acrylic to aluminum—and do so one after the other. “The Zünd is so versatile, at one point in the day it can be cutting 0.010 vinyl and later routing out 0.125 aluminum,” says Crownover.
In a Day
A typical order at Texas Nameplate is another example of just how flexible and integral to the company’s workflow the Zünd S3 M-800 is. Orders are entered into the company’s proprietary, employee-developed ERP system, Augur-ware.
“When a customer reaches out for quote, we respond quickly, then hopefully receive a purchase order with their official blueprint. If a customer does not have artwork we can help create that too,” shares Crownover.
After the order is placed in the queue, the amount of time it takes to manufacture is fluid. Crownover says it’s based on a simple question, “when do you need it?” The Zünd S3 M-800 cutter enables the company to cut as little or as many pieces in a day. Depending on part size and material used, Texas Nameplate is very flexible and can run the cutter extra hours to meet a customer’s request.
One of the unintended benefits of acquiring the Zünd cutter is that it’s allowed the company to expand its offerings. Not only are customers able to take their nameplate business to Texas Crownover, they can also get their labels or decals completed at a competitive price. Many of its current clients have been happy to take advantage of this.
The purchase of the Zünd S3 M-800 couldn’t have come at a better time for Texas Nameplate. The addition made the company a one-stop shop for many of its customers. It is thankful for its team and equipment, and hopes to grow, attract, and retain its current workforce with excellent products and exceptional service.
Apr2021, Industrial Print Magazine
cutting, digital cutting