A company that identifies, gears up for and enters a new market is a classic business scenario. But when such a company enables a key supplier to discover and ultimately enter a new market as well, a true win-win situation is created. Such is the relationship that has emerged from the close association between Laguna Tools and Design Dynamics. Design Dynamics, based in Orange County, California, is a digital printer and signage manufacturer. Its core market is warning labels, such as those used to warn against corrosives or shock hazards. They also print directly to substrate, which is a base material such as plastic film or textiles. This technique is a staple for applications such as the wide format banners used by auto dealers. This is the market that led them first to the requirement for a router and then to Laguna Tools. Owner Lorin Young began to think about adding a router to his shop about five years ago after purchasing a UV flatbed printer for banner work. Young had grown dissatisfied with the expense and potential for failure that accompanied the traditional manufacturing process used to convert printed vinyl to signage. “A flatbed printer is a significant investment,” observed Young. “So I had very mixed feelings when I learned you’re going to start looking for a router almost as soon as your printer is delivered.” “I first looked at a woodworking router that was being sold by a cabinet company,” he continued. “It worked to a point, but it was obvious that it wasn’t designed for what we needed. Besides, no one here had ever used an industrial router before. I wanted the training opportunities that came with buying a new unit direct from the manufacturer, rather than a dealer. Although some dealers provide first-rate support, I couldn’t risk receiving anything less on a unit I could only think of as capital equipment. In the course of doing my due diligence I came around to Laguna Tools. I knew of their excellent reputation in the woodworking industry. But more specifically, I reasoned that cutting a 4X8 sheet is cutting a 4X8 sheet. You just need the right fit.” That fit, both in terms of the operation of the router and the company behind it, came from Laguna Tools’ CNC Sales Director, Steve Alvarez. Alvarez stepped up and promised Young as much instruction as necessary, along with a price that was surprisingly affordable for the capability it offered. With all that in place, Design Dynamics became the new owner of a SmartShop | MT. “When I learned Laguna Tools was interested in entering the signage industry, I knew we could work together at a much deeper level than just supplier and customer,” said Young.
“The SmartShop | MT was the best investment I could make for us,”
“There are a number of jobs we’ve undertaken that we simply couldn’t have done without it, either because of time of production or expense.” One such job was an order from a popular restaurant chain for 100 “danglers,” or hanging promotional signs that attach to ceilings and roofs at the chain’s stores. To make the double-sided signs, ¼-inch foamboard was cut into 18-inch diameter circles and then drilled with a pin hole that allowed fishing line to be strung through them for easy hanging. The signs began as a four-foot by eight-foot printed sheet. The sheet was then drilled and routed into circles before the fishing line was threaded into the individual signs and they were packed for shipping. “The MT saved us countless hours on this job,” said Young. “It took as long to thread the line as it did to cut out the signs themselves.” “We’re doing four of the five printing methods that exist in the digital world,” observed Young. “To make these methods cost effective, I need to accomplish what I call ‘moving the bottleneck.’ To me, it’s the most exciting part of owning and operating a small business. I was tired of printing a job faster than I could finish it. When I added the MT to my production floor, I found we could finish a printing job that took all night in under an hour. The MT has really streamlined our operation.” Young also cites other jobs that the SmartShop | MT took from impractical to just another day’s work. “I remember a project where we printed nearly non-stop for three days,” he recalled. “But then we used the MT to finish job in just one day. When it only takes 15 minutes from setup to taking the job off the router you can’t help but be more productive. The tool is only limited by our ability to program the cut path.” Young also sees additional usage for the SmartShop | MT in the coming days. Although the company primarily uses the SmartShop MT as a router, it is really a five machines-in-one multi-tool unit. The MT includes interchangeable knife units, including a creasing knife and tangential knife. It also includes a traditional spindle for routing and a drilling and tapping unit. “There’s no question that the machine will allow us to take on non-traditional digital signage work such as acrylics and wood and plastic custom boxes,” said Young. “Its many applications will allow us to offer a wider range of functions to our clients.” The way Laguna Tools approaches its customers and its product design is also appealing to Young. “They realize their products are important investments to their users. They work hard to keep their costs down and pass the values on to their customers. What’s more there’s none of the added overhead that comes with an over-engineered piece of machinery. “There’s no question there’s a real relationship between Laguna Tools and Design Dynamics,” concluded Young. “I’ve learned to use a router, and we’ve taught them the fine points of the signage industry. It’s a great combination.” Lorin Young Design Dynamics email@example.com www.designdynamics.com Products:
- Smartshop | MT CNC B&R Controller
- 3HP Mobile Cyclone Dust Collector
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