Why companies like this award winning wide-format printer are using the 112 Extreme combined heat welding, eyeleting and cutting, finishing machine.
Wide-format printer of the year, Hollywood Monster, has announced the purchase of a Solent/Miller Weldmaster 112 Extreme combined heat welding, eyeleting and cutting, finishing machine.
The installation enables Hollywood Monster to weld a wide range of materials (including eco friendly) which its previous HF machines were unable to finish and managing director Tim Andrews says: “The new equipment will also eliminate bottlenecks and provide a new cutting resource.”
Large contract win
“We first saw the 112 Extreme at an American show and since then we always had it in mind to invest at some point in the future. On winning a £1m contract to supply and install a large amount of digital print in London during May and June producing vinyl and PVC dressings/graphics, large-format banners and street dressings in eco friendly materials, we didn’t need to look at anything else; it was obvious it was the right machine for the job and the future direction of the company,” added Andrews.
“It wasn’t just the high quality and tremendous improvement in speed of the welding that convinced us, we were also impressed by the semi-automatic cutting, eyeletting, rope inserting and the general increase in efficiency it brings to the business.”
Technology for the future
Andrews went on to say: “More and more eco friendly materials will replace the current PVC ranges and therefore hot wedge or hot air welds may become the all round preferred route. Also, automated cutting technology for large-format banners solves a big issue. We need to get people off their hands and knees on the floor. So all in all, as with most printers, the finishing department has always been a bottleneck and this will give us at least double finishing capacity, an improvement in quality of cutting, allows us to print onto a wider range of materials and generally increase throughput.”
Solent provides a comprehensive range of finishing solutions for the wide-format printer including the market leading Miller Weldmaster range of heat welders for banner printers and Texsew/Bannersew, a new low-cost/high-speed solution for sewing textiles and banners.
Solent/Miller Weldmaster 112 Extreme
The 112 Extreme is the perfect machine for the fabrication of large and grand format banners and billboards. The 112 Extreme has a wide range of production capabilities and is easy for the operator to use. Customers use the 112 Extreme to cut, hem and eyelet all on the same table. With precision-controlled welding parameters, simple recall settings and an ergonomic design, the 112 Extreme is built to take production and efficiency to the next level and is available from 3m to 30m long!
Solent Sewing and Welding has been in the business of industrial sewing and fabric handling for 50 years, with a history of manufacturing attachments and modifying sewing machines with different arm lengths and configurations. Where once sewing was the focus of the business, welding and heat sealing has taken over. Now much of Solent’s business focus is with the wide and grand-format display market, an area that now accounts for 80% of its business.
“However, our Texsew and Bannersew Pro with conveyor solutions appeal to customers where their applications do not suit welding and who use sewing machines for banners and digital textiles,” says Ian Jenkins, MD at Solent.
Made in the UK
Solent supports these customers by supplying and servicing industrial sewing machines built in its workshops in Portsmouth. It also offers useful accessories to ensure a quality finish such as hemming, keder and rope guiding devices; high quality, robust sewing machine tables; puller feeds and auxiliary rollers to help with pull-through of large swathes of fabric.
Hot Wedge and Hot Air welding
Welding offers a number of benefits for the outdoor banner printer. No sewing means no thread, so no consumables, and the finished product looks better as there are no lines of visible stitching across your banner. Heat sealing is also very fast and robust and the weld is stronger than the material. At the lower volume end of the market, welding again offers significant improvements in speed and quality over taping or handheld devices.
Generally speaking, welders come in four main categories. Radio frequency (RF) welding is an old technology whereby electrical energy conducted in a radio frequency is conducted to the surfaces that are to be joined together. The downside is that as it welds through the substrate it can affect the print. Also, as RF is a bar-based process, there can be a fair amount of substrate handling, the process is fairly slow and limited in its applications.
“While RF welding has been popular in the UK in the past, there is now a general movement in the trade towards the Solent/Miller Weldmaster hot air or hot wedge welding solutions. Both these systems create very neat, strong seams as the weld takes place within the material, so you get an excellent finish that doesn’t interfere with the printed image. Hot wedge and hot air systems are also fast, coping on average with 20m per minute, they also require less materials handling and can be 5x faster than RF,” says Jenkins.
“Another big plus is the ability of hot air and hot wedge to weld recyclable PE at high speed and this is becoming a standard specification for the retail market.”
Lastly, Solent/Miller Weldmaster impulse welding works like an RF machine in that it uses a bar but has none of the issues associated with RF. It can cope with recyclable materials and really can substitute perfectly for a sewing machine when it comes to the lighter digital textiles and non-weldable materials as it uses heat activated tape. Although slower than the hot air or hot wedge methods, Impulse models are suited for small to medium shops where quality rather than high productivity is important.
Solent is leading from the front with products from the likes of US manufacturer Edward Segal that offer a range of setting systems from pneumatic desktops to fully automatic machines. As there is a huge demand for recyclable banners, the company offers recyclable, plastic eyelets that mean that for those printing onto PP or PE media, they can be recycled together rather than having to separate them.
The future of finishing - customised, automated solutions
As well as offering standard, finishing systems, Solent/Miller Weldmaster offers customised automated finishing systems, which Jenkins recognises as a growing trend. “Miller Weldmaster custom machines are tailored to suit the manufacturer's exact requirements,” he says. “They can weld seams, hem, add reinforcements, set eyelets, punch holes or add webbing or keder, then cut to size or rewind to rolls in a fully automated, computer controlled process. These machines improve quality, increase production, are built exactly to a customer’s specifications and dimensions and can cost anything from £50,000 to £250,000.”
Solent Sewing and Welding
Units 5/10, Warrior Business Centre
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO6 1TX
Tel: 023 9232 5975