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CUT-Estimator fills in the estimating blanks

Friday, September 25, 2009

Press release from the issuing company

Aarhus, Denmark/Phoenix, Arizona - Estimating for print is well understood and many good products to do it are available. Easy, fast and accurate estimating for finishing of shaped prints is now available.  CUT-Estimator brings to market digital finishing estimating capabilities that have been sorely missing in the marketplace.

For many years, we have heard that the purchase of a digital finishing system to be run alongside a flatbed wide format printer was the best investment that a printer could make.  In different geographic markets, both Ron Clark of Ben Franklin Press in Phoenix and Guy Ladd of Reprographic Technologies in Milwaukee have said:

"I can't understand anybody buying a flat bed printer and not pairing it with a flat bed digital die cutter /finisher (knife/router/laser)."

Adding more fuel to this argument is Richard Rudolf of Tango Graphics outside San Francisco, who says:

"The bank made me run with a flatbed printer and no automatic finisher for a year to prove I could pay back the loan. Within 60 days of bringing in a cutter/router, we went from plenty of available capacity to 50 hours per week use per machine, radically changing our mix of business and significantly increasing our profitability. The system actually pays for itself in under a week of use per month, but it has been responsible for the real growth of my business."

This ability of a digital finishing device to become a significant profit can be stated even more specifically as indicated by Jim Sullivan of BrandBoxx in Wisconsin:

"Our digital finishing system allowed us to capture over $200,000 in gross profit in year one that previously was spent outsourcing finishing work, add over $400,000 in top line sales that we wouldn't have received without its capabilities and save between $115,000 and $230,000 in cost from spoiled work."

Each of these success stories comes with a caveat, that it is very easy to lose money on the finishing process, or to not make it a true profit center, if the estimating of the cost of finishing is far off from the actual costs.

While it may be easy to estimate the finishing effort required for simple rectangles on soft material, the range of materials and the differences in cutting techniques that are currently available make estimating for more complex shapes more of an art than a science.  Horror stories where 4 hours of estimated finishing production time has turned out to be 17, blowing the whole profit on the print project, or even worse, are well known in the trade. The problem is made even more severe by the reality that you will likely be asked for a "firm" bid on the printing and finishing before the piece is actually complete.  

A review of the market's estimating products clearly explains the predicament.  Most Estimating products have a single input function for finishing that utilizes a customer input of cost per square foot of finishing.  To this they may add the cost of welding and grommets for banners, for example, or the thickness of the material, but they do not take into consideration the intricacy of the cutting required and the kinds of tools used for cutting depending upon accuracy and quality desired by the customer.  As a result, except for the relatively simple shapes, such as rectangles and circles, and for easy to cut materials, this really produces only a quesstimate of the actual costs and provides limited guidance for pricing.  At best, a printer can average his costs over many jobs and come up with a set of guesses per square foot depending upon material thickness and a rough guide to complexity, but the tools aren't really there to do anything precise per project.  This may cause over pricing leading to lost jobs, or under pricing leading to lost profits or losses; neither of which is very good for the financial stability of the printer.

Fortunately, the Patent-Pending CUT-Estimator, a new product growing out of the data captured from 6 years of managing a cutting service bureau using 5 different types/brands of digital finishing equipment, is now available.  Utilizing easy to gauge information about the project, such as size, shape and intricacy, material type and thickness, CUT-Estimator has the knowledge base to create precise estimates without having to measure the printed image, or do a test cutting to accurately determine costs. Brand agnostic, CUT-Estimator therefore allows a printer to precisely determine finishing costs, set realistic prices, and schedule work hours for all types of finishing projects to be performed on digital cutting/routing systems - no matter the project quantity, material type, thickness, printing method, cutting/routing complexity, and more.  CUT-Estimator uses specific material data bases to define cutting/routing methods, speeds and tooling requirements to directly enter the material settings known for the system you use. The resulting estimate gives you precise costs and prices for the project, and may include up to 6 alternative quantities per estimate.  

When the project order is received from the customer, you just print out the project order sheet and have all the specific production finishing information at hand to schedule the production plan as well as information for the operator to set-up and work the project at the digital cutting/finishing system.

CUT-Estimator is now available in both stand-alone versions for the printer and for embedding inside industry standard workflow and estimating systems to augment their ability to automatically provide more accurate finishing estimates than they are capable of producing today.  Please contact CUT- Estimator or your preferred Estimating system supplier to get the benefits of CUT-Estimator for your print business.




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