In an effort to make his business the smartest digital printer in the industry, Rune Slembrouck, aka "Mister Druck" himself, has made a number of clever business decisions since he started running the business in 2017 -- including replacing his milling cutter with a laser, and developing his own customer portal software to give customers more visibility into order status. These decsisions have enabled him to expand the company from 1 person to 22 people within 2.5 years.
Before Slembrouck decided to purchase a laser cutter, he faced two main challenges related to a new opportunity: a need to increase production capacity, and a need to improve processing quality.
The new opportunity, a large contract for acrylic products, was not feasible using his existing equipment. The milling cutter he had been using was not fast enough to keep up with production needs, and it could not produce the level of quality his customer needed.
The lack of quality when producing with a milling cutter resulted from the dust, chips and the resulting scratches on the material. The dust of a milling cutter is not only unpleasant in the air, but also quickly builds up due to the static charge of acrylic glass sheets. It also would prevent the required print quality with zero dust inclusions under full-surface white printed acrylic. In addition, the required quantity of the order was so high that Mister Druck would not have been able to produce it with the milling machine in the required pickup times.
The SP3000 laser cutter from Trotec enabled Mister Druck to exclusively produce acrylic parts from whole sheets. Its software optimizes the job distribution on the plate surface to minimize waste, then the whole plate is printed, and finally the individual jobs are lasered out of the plate on the laser cutter.
The laser enabled us to achieve an enormous increase in turnover, as it was only through the laser that we were able to accept the offered acrylic product order. The required product quality without dust inclusions and the required production speed can currently only be achieved with the laser. The SP 3000 Laser Cutter thus contributes to the growth of Mister Druck.
The change to laser technology had a very positive effect on maintenance costs. The maintenance costs of a milling machine with the same capacity utilisation can be up to € 4,000 per month. A Trotec laser is virtually maintenance-free. Furthermore, a milling machine could not even produce the products currently in demand at Mister Druck. Due to the milling cutter geometry, very fine details cannot be milled. In addition, the mechanical forces generated by the milling head cause product parts to be broken off or even thrown away. The use of technology reduces material waste and ensures safety for the machine operator.
The SP3000 laser cutter also allowed Slembrouk to increase his production volume of acrylic from 10 m² per week to currently 1,200 to 1,500 m² per week (about 30 percent of total capacity). In addition to this increase, he was also able to reduce the scrap rate for acrylic from 2 m² (at 10 m² production volume per week) to less than 10 m² (at 1000 m² production volume per week). Meanwhile, the reject rate in the entire company is far below 1 percent with a total daily production volume of 5,000 m².