With a population of about 15,000 people, Traverse City, Michigan may not be very large but one of its companies has a big reputation that’s getting wider. Britten Studios began as a banner company in 1985, and its large and wide format work today as a digital and screen printer includes many of the world’s most popular brands.
Always looking for a better solution for their store design and retail décor group led to the installation of a key piece of finishing equipment two months ago. By adding a 141-inch wide SABER X-15 Plus paper cutter with Microcut from Colter & Peterson, North America’s foremost authority and largest independent distributor of paper cutters and paper handling systems, Britten has registered significant gains in productivity, reliability and more.
“The SABER has performed very well. It replaced an old, 112-inch Seybold paper cutter and the difference is like going from driving a Pinto to a Cadillac,” remarked Bill Bratton, Fabrication Manager and 10-year Britten veteran. He’s one of 300 employees who produce work from 300,000 square-feet of space on one block in Traverse City, located not far from the shores of Lake Michigan and about 150 miles from the Canadian border.
Bratton said a situation with the Seybold last year led them to Colter & Peterson.
“It went down and it left us short for about a week. The machine was from the 1970s and it was difficult to get parts, but Jimmy Meyers, our Equipment Manager, made some calls and got in touch with Bruce Peterson,” recalled Bratton.
“It got us thinking because finishing is such a big artery of production for us, especially with the tight deadlines. Bruce came through with the parts and we were back up and running. It wasn’t long before we asked him for a quote on a new and wider machine. By then we had done our homework, looked at a few companies and knew Colter & Peterson was the Cadillac of the paper cutter business.”
Britten’s solutions for retail design are wide ranging, from banners (including fabric and signs), POP displays and building wraps, to large format print, mesh, backlit graphics, light pole banners and more. Several HP Scitex presses dominate the digital side lineup, and all of the presses for screen printing handle work printed on coroplast, styrene, vinyl and card stock. That material represents the majority of what is trimmed on the SABER X-15 Plus paper cutter.
One of Britten’s major customers is a large Midwest grocery chain. Bratton says they print all of the in-store signage for over 200 stores in five states.
“We print a lot of card stock, coroplast and styrene for an endless list of items and run it all through the SABER,” informed Bratton, who said the machine is used for two shifts, five days a week, with two operators running it each shift. But that’s about to change.
“In July, we go to seven days a week with all of the back-to-school work and other projects. It’s one of our busiest times of the year, outside of the holiday stuff and the yearly changeover of materials that we do. It’s during the back-to-school period where we print a lot of vinyl banners.”
Printing as much material as they do makes speed an important issue, not only with their presses but on the back end too. Quality is another strong consideration, and Bratton says they get both with the SABER X-15 Plus.
“With the Seybold, we could only cut eight foot wide sheets. Besides the 10-foot capacity now, we have improved the quality of our cutting,” remarked Bratton, indicating the Microcut Plus electronics program provides a definitive edge. The accuracy rate is within 1/64th of an inch.
“Depending on the type of material, the adjustable clamp pressure gives us options on how much and how fast we cut,” he added. “If it’s coroplast, we fill it to the top and do a couple of hundred at a time. Microcut sets the table by letting us download cut files in advance. It saves us a tremendous amount of time for programming, something we could not do with the old Seybold. It also keeps track of the number of cuts on the blade so we can schedule when it needs to be sharpened. After two months, we’re not there yet.”
Right from the start, Bratton says Colter & Peterson set up his department for success.
“This cutter has exceeded our expectations and we have reduced our cutting time per job. On the service side, they did a terrific job installing the machine and during our training. They were here for a week and discussed a number of things with us about the machine. We handle the daily maintenance but they are only a telephone call away if we need them.”