A new start-up has become the first UK user of the recently launched Gunner flatbed cutter from Shanghai Chiyan CNC Technology Co.
DPL Graphics was the lockdown brainchild of Luke Smith, head of design and production at Digital Revolution Print and Design, and Damian Kenworthy who spotted an opportunity to create a trade manufacturer and supplier of vehicle chevrons and Chapter 8 graphics kits for highway maintenance vehicles.
The pair established the new business with the backing of Peter Jolly, managing director of Digital Revolution. The new business will share the same base as his vehicle wrapping specialist and graphics printer, using a specially prepared zoned off area in the firm’s circa 460sqm facility which is spread over two units.
It will operate as a predominantly trade supplier of the specialist vehicle graphics and is in the process of launching a web-to-print platform. While it shares premises with Digital Revolution and will also supply graphics to the business as required, Smith stressed it was a standalone business and separate legal entity.
He said that client confidentiality was guaranteed as the universal nature of the graphics meant that the firm would never need to know who the graphic installer’s customer is, just the vehicle type.
In the short term, Smith and Kenworthy will be its only employees, with Smith also maintaining his duties at Digital Revolution.
The backbone of the business is the UK’s first Gunner GR1325F flatbed, supplied by David Coleman, exclusive UK and European distributor of Shanghai Chiyan CNC Technology Co’s Gunner range of roll-to-roll and flatbed digital cutters.
The machine was installed by Coleman’s service and installation partner Dennison Group in late August and is now in full production.
The first live jobs will go through this week, with the new web-to-print service set to go live shortly.
The Chinese-built GR1325F features a 1.3×2.5m vacuum bed and offers a 600mm/s cutting speed and can handle material up to 1.5mm thick. It comes with CCD camera for image recognition and five piece cutting set as standard.
However, Smith said that the sub-£12,000 price tag was the biggest draw.
“The alternative was a Zund machine and this is a fraction of the price,” he said.
“It’s always a bit of a risk when you invest in the first of something, but if it does what it’s supposed to then it will be exactly what we need.”
He added that if the new venture and the Gunner prove as successful as he hoped then the business could be in a position to add a second machine in the future.
“This is the first time that I have used a non-brand machine though, I’m used to running HPs and the like, so we’ll see how it goes.”
He said the machine looked “solidly built” and the only teething issue so far had been software-based, which had been resolved.
“It’s mainly set up to run with Corel Draw, which isn’t that big in the UK, so we told them that it needs to have Adobe plug-ins if it’s going to take off here.”
According to the manufacturer’s overseas sales manager Daniel Shang the cutter works with Adobe Illustrator, except for the the CCD Feature. However, he added that its software engineers were developing a fix and hoped to be able to activate the CCD feature soon.