We at Venture Banners have always looked at ways we can apply our economies of scale to parts of the large-format market that enable our customers to increase their product offerings, and in turn their revenue streams. There is no downside to this business model – our customers can offer a complex array of large-format and exhibition products without huge investment but with plenty of margin. We work on large volumes of these products but with small margins and this works well for us.
With textile and soft signage becoming more and more popular in this country over the last couple of years, we decided we wanted to offer our customers our considerable economies of scale in this sector as well. So at the beginning of 2017, we embarked on an eighteen month capital expense exercise that turned out to be the steepest learning curve we had ever faced in our ten year history.
We’ve learned about the advantages and disadvantages of inline ink fixation, how humidity—or in this case, a lack of humidity—can have a disastrous effect on your ability to print literally anything. We learned about different materials, their different applications and then we had to learn their individual stretch and shrinkage properties.
We vigorously researched the various different types of sewing machines available that do vastly different jobs. Single needle, twin needle, overlock—there was a lot to take in. And I don’t care what anyone says, people who can sew properly are few and far between. Finding someone who can join two pieces of material together without it looking like Eeyore’s bottom has turned out to be a huge challenge for us. Sewing has been a dying art in this country over the last few decades and as textiles become more prominent in our product line-up, it has become clear we need to act to bring in more young people to train in this skill set.
So, our kit list has expanded considerably to include seven sewing machines of various types, a production-wide humidification system, and if you’ve been to Disney in Florida, think those fine mist sprays you get around the park. We’ve bought an MTEX 5032HS 3.2m high-speed dye-sub machine with inline fixation for our flag production, as well as an EFi FabriVU 340 3.2m machine and a separate Klieverik calender unit for backlit, display and stretch materials (which indecently, gives the best print quality I’ve ever seen on a large-format machine), as well as a 3.2m-wide Zund with a textile cutting system to make sure that after we’ve printed all this stretchy stuff, it gets cut out accurately.
If you’ve seen our marketing over the last few months, the result is the most impressive line-up of hardware and materials we have ever had, which will enable our customers to offer new products and find new markets and profit streams—without all the headaches, barriers and costs associated with getting into dye-sub.