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Shaping ideas: Signnovation uses EnRoute from SAi to create signs of distinction

“If you drive around the Netherlands, you will see our signs everywhere,” said Ramon Wiggers, head of planning at Signnovation International Dinxperlo BV. “It’s ironic, Signnovation is invisible, but our work displays the names of businesses all over the country.”

While 80 percent of Signnovation’s work is in the Netherlands, it exports a large number of signs to Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Germany.

The company’s 'invisibility’ stems from the way it does business: its customers are other signmakers, not end-users.

Signnovation has been in business for nearly thirty years, and has used SAi’s EnRoute CAD/CAM software since the early 2000s to drive its two heavy-duty MultiCam 5000 routers, and its Cyborg 2030-SV-L-Pro purchased through Belgium reseller, Ketele NV.

These three high quality CNC routers from our supplier in combination with the EnRoute software guarantee beautiful artwork and perfect finished signs.

The ink usage is also less than other printers in its class but they stretch further with the material before 'ballooning or whiting' out. This affords you, the designer, to push the colours and design further than before, especially with deeper richer colours.

“We have four EnRoute licenses,” Wiggers said. “One for each of our routers, and one for emergencies – or a new machine!”

Focusing on the job

“All we do is make signs,” Wiggers explained. “Whether they are 2D signs of acrylic or foamboard, or 3D channel signs1 with fabricated steel and aluminum bodies – that is all we do: letters, numbers and logos. We don’t do design; we don’t do installations. We focus on producing and shipping outstanding letters.”

Wiggers is in charge of Signnovation’s planning department, and oversees all aspects of employees’ work, welfare and training as well as output quality, and machine performance – including future needs.

“Since we work for a large number of signmakers – each working with many designers – from a wide geographical area, it’s not surprising that they have different ways of doing things. This is why we have developed one way of doing things, and we have built our success by following that method. Each customer has a single point of contact at the company who oversees the project from the moment it comes in to when it goes out the door.

“As you can imagine, working with so many companies and designers, we receive files in all sorts of formats. We would prefer them as EPS or DXF files, but using EnRoute, we are able to handle just about anything,” he adds.

Nonetheless, everything is checked to ensure that expensive substrates aren’t wasted, and that the job meets – or exceeds – customer expectations. The specifications for color, material, thickness, finish, and details like drainage requirements, are all set out on a standard form for the planners to check.

“EnRoute is very good at finding errors in the files,” Wiggers said. “It won’t let the cutting start until the problem has been resolved. This feature prevents mistakes, cuts waste, and ultimately ensures more streamlined production.”

The variety of tools available in EnRoute software actually goes well-beyond Signnovation’s needs.

“We don’t cut wood, or make moldings, for example, but all the tools are there,” he said. “It’s a great software for us: it’s easy for people to learn; there aren’t too many settings, and with the displays it’s simple to see all that’s going on.”

Reliable versatility

EnRoute’s full CAD design handling capabilities and advanced 2D tool pathing and drilling ensure clean cuts, internally and externally. Accurate inlays and channel cutting enable the realization of complex designs, and EnRoute even has the ability to include textures.

The reliability of EnRoute is also very important to Signnovation.

“We normally process between 60-100 orders per day,” Wiggers said. “That’s a lot of letters, and a lot of cutting to be accurately driven. EnRoute helps us to maintain consistent throughput, which helps get the orders out the door on time.”

The typical materials cut with EnRoute software range from Dibond, Alupanel and PVC foam to acrylics up to 30mm thick. The signs themselves range from 70m overall, to ones with letters of only 1.5cm.

As part of its innovative, creative, culture, Signnovation has developed a number of its own substrates that suit its applications and meet its specifications for durability, translucence, color fastness and sustainability. All materials must be suitable for the myriad design variations and their unique challenges.

“For one well-known Dutch company, we produced an illuminated logo six meters high,” he said. “You never know what kind of job is going to come in. It might be a big repeat job for a supermarket or furniture store chain that’s opening another branch, or it could be a small company that’s just opening and wants a special look.

“Ketele NV not only supplied our large format printers, they are support our EnRoute software. There is also very good online support should we need it.

“EnRoute makes our work easier, flow better and be more accurate,” Wiggers concluded. “It’s proved itself here in more than a decade of use.”

Graphic Display World

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