Fast Finishing: Automated Cutting

In September of 2016, we attended the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) trade show in Las Vegas. To predict the printing trends that I thought we’d see, I wrote a blog on the Expected Industry Trends from the SGIA Expo. To document my printing prophecy, I followed up with SGIA Sightings, a recap.

At SGIA we got up close and personal with two of Zünd’s newest automation features. In my recap, I loudly proclaimed our love for Zünd digital die-cutters and this awesome new technology. The love story was mutual and Custom Color was invited to contribute to the December issue of Sign & Digital Graphics magazine’s Making Finishing Solutions as Easy as ABC. This opportunity for contribution made me think about my appreciation for our automated cutting machines.

At Custom Color Corp, our motto is “Ink Big. Ink Fast. Ink Printing.” Without the quick cutting capabilities of our three Zünd digital die cutters, we wouldn’t be able to Ink Fast – which is quite obviously a problem in today’s fast-paced world.

Digital printing has a quick-turnaround reputation, and for good reason. Because customers recognize that the printing process is speeding up, they are requesting more displays and shorter run times. Zünd cutters provide the increase in productivity that customers expect. On any given day, our I-Cut operators process hundreds of thousands of square feet of material.

Not only is the act of cutting the material automated, our Zünd cutters are tied into our workflow. This workflow accessibility means increased accuracy and efficiency. We are able to estimate cut times through integration with our company management information system.

One of our Zünd cutters touches each and every large format project that comes through our production facility.  Three Zünd cutters provide the cutting needs for our flatbed, latex, fabric and UV printing – the versatility of the machines to finish any substrate prevents a bottleneck in our production flow. 

Zünd’s upgradability is unparalleled. This adaptability to new projects ensures that Custom Color can remain an ever-innovative print service provider.

Zünd increases our productivity and reduces our production time. Our Zünd cutters are an integral function of our facility and our motto – ink big, ink fast, ink printing.

Want to see our Zünd machines in action? Contact us for a tour.

 Jason Milbourne is the Vice President at Custom Color Corp. A designer, pre-press connoisseur, and Royals fanatic by day and a fantasy baseball pro and taco and craft beer arbitrator by night, Jason loves all things fun and crazy….just like his hair. Connect with him on LinkedIn, but don’t follow him on Instagram, because he won’t follow back. 

Custom Color Corp Jason

SGIA Sightings: A Recap

To answer your first question – yes, Vegas was awesome. To answer your second question – yes, I am a printing prophet.

Before we left last week, I sat down to jot down some of my thoughts on the trends that I thought we’d see at SGIA; thus, my Printing Predictions blog was born.  I thought I’d follow up on my three predictions: automation, technology and substrates.


First, I referenced WhatTheyThink’s commentary that highlighted automation as this year’s top topic. For other print service providers, it might have been – but for us, a print solutions provider, we’re already incorporating automation.

At Custom Color, we use Enfocus’ Switch software to automate our prepress process. This software alerts us of any print problems that might arise before the file hits the production floor. We also use automated finishing – this prevents jobs that move through production quickly to only get hung up at our sewing machines. We find that automation works for us – prepress detects more errors with Switch and the sewing on our prints can be completed quickly and perfectly every time. 

We did spot some cool finds that are on our radar. It must first be noted that we love Zund die-cutters – we have two on our production floor now. Zund has outdone themselves with two automation features that really blew our minds. The Bird’s-Eye View is an HD registration dot reader that reads dots as the material feeds onto the cutting surface – this eliminates the time that the camera takes to read the dots after the fabric has been fed onto the cutting surface. Zund has also rolled out a laser cutter that finishes the edges of fabric as it cuts. This automation would certainly reduce time for finishing and I-Cut – faster production for ink in a blink.


Three words: Box on Demand. In case you were wondering, we’re asking for one for the holidays. The Box on Demand system is a highly customized approach at constructing corrugated packaging. This means custom boxes for our custom prints – it also means that packaging costs will be consistent, regardless of configuration, quantity or design. Custom boxes at Custom Color – it’s only fitting. 

While we don’t print offset, HP’s Page-Wide makes us wish that we did. This press has High Definition Nozzle Architecture (HDNA) technology – that’s 2,400 nozzles per inch, which prints at 10,000 square feet an hour. This HDNA means HP’s best-in-class print quality while providing enhanced productivity and versatility. 


Technology is awesome, but we can’t do what we do without the substrates. We found two new substrate products that we’re excited to get our hands on.

Coated fabric and fabric coating might just be a game-changer. There are certain fabrics that we cannot print on unless we bought entirely new equipment. The addition of coated fabrics and fabric coatings mean that we can use our HP 3500 latex printers to print curtains and other home décor that we had only printed on in our dreams.

We were introduced to a mesh that revolutionizes construction site graphics– Pes Mesh. Pacific Coast Fabrics introduced us to this fantastic dye-sublimated mesh material. This eyelet mesh has an open weave structure, which allows wind to travel through easily. The dye-sublimation process means that the ink will last longer and perform better in adverse conditions. This material is perfect for construction area fencing, graphics and advertising.


SGIA Expo gave us so many ideas and possibilities for research and development. We’re incredibly excited to see what the next few weeks hold in terms of automation, technology and substrates. 

Follow us on our social media channels to see it first - check us out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram

Also, I must add one last time…I am the printing prophet.

Jason Milbourne is the Vice President at Custom Color Corp. A designer, pre-press connoisseur, and Royals fanatic by day and a fantasy baseball pro and taco and craft beer arbitrator by night, Jason loves all things fun and crazy….just like his hair. Connect with him on LinkedIn, but don’t follow him on Instagram, because he won’t follow back. 

Printing Predictions: Expected Industry trends from SGIA Expo

The Specialty Printing & Imaging Technology’s SGIA Expo begins tomorrow and we couldn’t be more excited. This Las Vegas trade show is where the most qualified and educated print professionals convene to check out the printing world’s best products, methodologies and applications. The Material Men from Custom Color will be there to explore the exhibits and take part in a bit of large format fun. 

It’s important to recognize that customers don’t just want a print service provider. Clients, regardless of their industry, are looking for a print solutions provider: 


With that sentiment in mind, I thought it’d be fun to make some predictions about what I think we’ll see at the show:


WhatTheyThink recently published a commentary that addressed automation as the hot topic for this year’s trade show season. “Automation has become an integral part of general commercial printing, with more and more parts of the printing workflow more or less completely automated.

I think we’ll see automation in two different avenues: software and equipment. Everyone in the industry is looking for ways to streamline the standardized parts of printing. Furthermore, printing companies want to ensure that there is as little error as possible prior to printing and in the final product.

While we already automate our prepress process and sewing, we will be on the lookout for more ways to include automation in our preparation and production procedures.


Show attendees will definitely be on the lookout for the latest and greatest in printing technology. It’s a given that the floors of the Las Vegas Convention Center will be filled with printers and finishing equipment – many times these mammoth machines are the spotlight of the show. Software technology will also be a pretty big deal for many print shop owners who are looking for automation and process efficiency. 

Both machines and software work hand-in-hand to enhance print output – print owners want consistency in software technology and in machines. All production devices should work together to provide reliable results – this is what we’ll be checking out. While we have a pretty robust collection of software and equipment, we are always looking for technology that can enhance our output uniformity and speed.


Doing a quick scan over the SGIA Exhibitor List and #SGIAExpo on Twitter makes us really excited about the many mediums that we’re about to encounter.

I’m seeing quite a few new large and grand format fabrics that will make their debut at the expo – I’m predicting that fabric will be the substrate show-stealer.

Print shops are always seeking out ways to clarify prints and provide more deep and vivid colors. The dye-sublimation process is the provider of the clearest prints and most bold and vibrant colors currently attainable. A variety of exhibitors at this Expo will flaunt this capability.

As a shop that has been printing on fabric for the past twelve years, we’re looking for the next advent in the fabric forecast.

Final Thoughts...

In effort to be the best print solutions provider that we can be, we’ll be on the watch for integrations that incorporate into our current processes and technology. While I’m not a prophet, I am confident that automation, technology and substrates will happen in Vegas, but won’t stay in Vegas…because they’ll come back to our Color Castle in Lenexa, Kansas with us. 

Next week on our Positively Printing blog, I’ll let you know how accurate my expo envisions were. In the meantime, I’ll be in Vegas, baby. 

Jason Milbourne is the Vice President at Custom Color Corp. A designer, pre-press connoisseur, and Royals fanatic by day and a fantasy baseball pro and taco and craft beer arbitrator by night, Jason loves all things fun and crazy….just like his hair. Connect with him on LinkedIn, but don’t follow him on Instagram, because he won’t follow back.