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EskoArtwork opens a new facility in Brno, Czech Republic

Press release from the issuing company

Gent (Belgium), March 4, 2008 – EskoArtwork, the world leader in packaging pre-production solutions and market leader in digital finishing systems for packaging, signs and displays announces the opening of its new Kongsberg table manufacturing facility in Brno, Czech Republic, supporting manufacturing efforts in Kongsberg, Norway.

Exceptional tables for sample making and short run production

Kongsberg dieless cutting and creasing tables are the industry's most cost-effective machines, rich with unique features that save time and improve sample and product quality. Users of Kongsberg tables choose from a complete set of tools that enable quality processing of materials ranging from thin paperboard to demanding heavy-duty materials such as triple-wall corrugated, wood and acrylics. The machines are configurable to virtually any imaginable need.

Kongsberg tables are highly recognized for their reliability and longevity, which is why an increasing number of customers choose tables with small-lot production in mind. A fully digital workflow with a Kongsberg table saves the cost and waiting time for a cutting die - and leaves high capacity production equipment undisturbed. In fact, many users have realized a very rapid return on investment by running their tables during a second shift for small-lot orders.

"Kongsberg and EskoArtwork are very strong brands in the industry. Kongsberg tables have a track record for being very reliable-most of our tables manufactured 15-20 years ago are still in operation. Our tables can run at a very high level of quality, accuracy and productivity, 24/7," comments Nicolai Gradman, EskoArtwork Senior Vice President, CAM and Supply Chain. "The tables deliver a very robust set of features, able to perform contour finishing on both rigid and flexible materials. The tool head on the Kongsberg table allows customers to change tools very quickly, utilizing many different finishing capabilities, from cutting to milling. Many of our customers have expanded their business into new product areas after investing in our equipment."

Kongsberg: An exceptional heritage of quality production

Until recently, all Kongsberg tables were developed and built by Kongsberg, owned by EskoArtwork, in Kongsberg, Norway. The Kongsberg area is the technology hub of Norway, with access to highly skilled employees. The Kongsberg company has been a very successful manufacturer of plotter-cutters for more than four decades. During the last 10 years, EskoArtwork has installed more than 2,500 Kongsberg sample making tables worldwide-and virtually all of them are still in daily production, automatically cutting and creasing materials according to CAD instructions received for packaging or point of sale materials. While Kongsberg tables range in size from 800 x 1100 mm (31.5" x 43.3") to 2210 x 4800 mm (87" x 189"), larger tables represent more than half of all Kongsberg table sales, attesting the to machine productivity. Superior productivity, simple and time-optimized operation, excellent tooling flexibility and an unsurpassed track record for durability are some of the reasons why Kongsberg tables are the favorite choice of packaging and point of sale companies across the globe.

Outstanding sales growth drives need for additional manufacturing capacity

The current generation of Kongsberg tables were originally developed for the packaging industry, where the majority of cutting tables purchased are carrying the Kongsberg brand, Over the past few years the tables have been introduced to sign and display companies as well, with successful results and a growing market share. During the past four years, annual sales of Kongsberg tables have increased 150%, and EskoArtwork expects annual sales to double again over the next five years. Thus, Kongsberg management decided, as part of a long-term strategic plan, to double its production capacity by building an additional, complementary manufacturing site to absorb growing.

Kongsberg management searched for a manufacturing location within a geographic area noted for quality manufacturing, mechanical and electromechanical expertise, good technical education and craftsmanship. Main criteria used in selection of the location included availability and quality of the local labor pool, an ability to conduct business easily with an excellent supplier base, and an affordable cost of doing business. In addition, Kongsberg needed to assure that the area was economically stable on a macro level, with ample infrastructure and transportation.

Brno: a premier manufacturing community

Brno, in the Czech Republic, satisfied all of Kongsberg's needs. Lying in the central part of Europe, the city has had a long lasting heritage in automotive, defense and aerospace manufacturing. With more than 60,000 students in the city's school system, the area is assured of an available, qualified work force. As the Czech Republic's second largest city, it has an excellent local supplier base and logistics infrastructure.

The new manufacturing site will be operated as a Kongsberg manufacturing subsidiary. Kongsberg will remain the CAM technology and R&D center for the company's tables and with manufacturing levels maintaining a steady level, specific focus will be on new products and critical subassemblies.

"Kongsberg has done an excellent job locating a manufacturing site and executing a production plan. We have had an excellent start in Brno, and are pleased to have a very strong manufacturing team in place," remarks Carsten Knudsen, EskoArtwork President and CEO. "Employees have been trained in Kongsberg for periods of three to six months to understand our manufacturing technique, in order to build on the excellence of our products. We are confident that tables produced at this facility will continue delivering our trademark quality. With our celebration of the achievement in Brno today, we look forward to years of Kongsberg success."