Smaller signmakers often find themselves in the unenviable position of, apparently, having to choose between highly expensive vertical panel saws and various second-best compromise solutions.
When Andy Roddie, owner of B3 Signs in Wishaw, Lanarkshire, explored this issue in 2012 he was delighted to find a third, much better option: the Zapkut ZM moving column panel saw, which, while robust, easy to use and accurate, is priced from just £2,495.
Established ten years ago, B3 Signs serves customers including various retail chains, Howdens Joinery, the NHS and other healthcare providers. Products and services include wraps, other large format digital printing, lamination and CNC work, much of it for other signmakers who lack the necessary equipment or skills.
In house – in control
“We do everything in house,” said Andy. “Independence of outside providers gives us full control of our products and services, and the flexibility to respond well to our customers: excellent service in double-quick time.”
Having followed a strategy of building B3 Signs’ skills and installed plant, Andy turned in 2012 to the matter of sheet cutting. For many years the company bought pre-cut sheet materials and cut in house with craft knives – scoring and snapping. While workable, these approaches left room for improvement.
“Buying pre-cut materials was wasteful and costly: we had to pay for full sheets even if we only needed portions of them,” Andy noted. “And scoring and snapping was imprecise and slow.”
The price is right!
When Andy spotted the all-British made Zapkut ZM in a trade press advertisement early in 2012, his initial reaction was one of surprise. “The price brought me up short,” he recalled. “A moving-column steel-framed vertical panel saw for under £2,500! I’d seen nothing comparable for under £5,500.”
Calling Hampshire-based Zapkut Limited and half expecting the price to be for a lesser model, Andy was delighted to find that the ZM shown in the advertisement was indeed available at the quoted price. “Honest advertising!” he chuckled. “Very refreshing!”
Low price, outstanding quality and features
As careful with his business decisions as he is with B3 Signs’ products and services, Andy spent some time assessing the Zapkut ZM range.
He knew a vertical panel saw would be the best way to address to B3 Signs’ sheet cutting needs, and that a moving-column model would be the best option – a compact operating footprint would enhance the company’s ability to take on additional work by freeing up workshop space.
He wanted to be sure, though, that the Zapkut ZM would deliver the precision, ease of assembly and ease of use he needed. He discussed the machine with Zapkut’s Managing Director, Keith Bunker, who explained how through advanced design and manufacturing techniques Zapkut had been able to drive cost out of the machine while maintaining a superlative specification and build quality.
When B3 Signs’ Zapkut ZM was delivered in October 2012, Andy was immediately impressed. “It’s absolutely fantastic!” He enthused. “The cuts are precise and smooth, just like a factory board-edge finish.”
Precise and versatile
The Zapkut ZM – part of a much wider range of panel saws from Zapkut – is proving itself highly versatile, cutting Dibond, 2mm, 3mm and 5mm foam PVC, Corex and acrylics. “No other cutting method works well with acrylics,” Andy commented, “but the Zapkut cuts them easily, with the same factory-quality finish that it gives on other materials.”
Andy also highlighted the ZM’s precision: “Neat, precise cuts are essential for the various parts of a sign to fit together correctly. When folding, accuracy is vital for the folds to work correctly, with everything properly aligned. The Zapkut takes it all in its stride.”
The team’s confidence in the saw is itself making a direct difference to the business. Previously, every cut had to be checked and double checked for accuracy, to avoid delays and the need to re-cut sheets later in the manufacturing process. The Zapkut ZM has proved itself to such an extent that this checking has now become unnecessary, streamlining the process and building team enthusiasm and satisfaction in a job well done.
I liked the ZM so much…
“The Zapkut has made a huge difference for us,” Andy summed up. “Those beautifully clean cuts mean no rough edges to trim, the ability to make rapid repeat cuts pays significant dividends, we can complete virtually any project with off-the-shelf sheet stock, and we can now use off-cuts, cutting wastage and adding profit straight to the bottom line.”
Andy has been so impressed that he has taken on the dealership for the range across Scotland. “Zapkut is the sort of company I like to do business with. They share my enthusiasm for a properly done, quality job. They’re honest, open and helpful, as well as well organised and robust. And the Zapkut ZM itself is fantastic – absolutely excellent value for money, and it’s paid for itself several times over already.”