Combining metalworking with branding.
Branding of a product, company or service is a vitally important ingredient that can go a long way towards success or not. Paid print and electronic adverts, along with collateral materials, press releases, and tradeshow participation, are important components of a successful integrated marketing plan that helps strengthen a brand. Maintaining a uniform appearance and message is essential to solidifying the brand. The people behind the brand and the brand’s employees are also important ingredients that make your brand stand apart in a competitive market.
There are also many companies out there that are competing for a slice of your branding spend, from advertising agencies to promotional gift companies, all with the promise of strengthening your brand awareness, growing your business and putting your brand on the front page.
Metal Graphics is not one of these companies and does not intend to be although it still fights fiercely for the slice of promotional spend.
You can’t pigeonhole the company as a shop that specialises in sheetmetal or plate; Light enclosures or heavy fabrications; Precision aerospace or work that isn’t so precise; Industrial work like vessels or piping skids; Architectural and ornamental work; Structural fabrication or a combination, even though aluminium sheet forming and cutting makes up the majority of the company’s production schedule. That is because Metal Graphics offers more and includes a variety of processes, from screen printing, laser etching and stamping to engraving.
Metal Graphics have recently invested in a CoastOne C15 servo electric press brake supplied by Metal Chip Machinery
Amongst the number of press brakes at Metal Graphics is an Ermaksan
“Metal Graphics creates custom made aluminium promotional products. Aluminium does not corrode and is 100% recyclable, eco friendly and has a low carbon footprint. Aluminium is also rust resistant, which makes it very durable, hygienic, long lasting and extremely flexible. It’s three times lighter than steel although it attains steel’s high strength characteristics and because of its recyclability it lasts longer than most other materials,” explains owner Rob Ellis.
“We are not entirely reliant on aluminium though. It does make up 85% of our production but not all clients are in love with the material. Additionally, we do have many occasions where you have to combine materials to make up the end product. Other materials that pass through our factory include wood, foam, perspex and plastic, as well as steel and chromodek.”
“These days you can’t even put us in the category of only designing and manufacturing promotional products. With the equipment that we have at our disposal we are winning contracts to process industrial type components such as aluminium roofing brackets. Even though this side of the business is a relatively new development in the company it has sparked us into rethinking strategically and investing in more equipment that will give us the flexibility to win more contracts – and this is happening right now.”
“The primary function of the business will remain as one that offers complete solutions for to help you present, sign and brand your information or products and keep your work environment well signed and functional. We are a South African company that was established in 1999 and have a skilled team of trained craftsmen making sure that your signage, display, presentation and packaging needs are managed from order to final delivery.”
Punching at Metal Graphics is done on a Finn-Power
Another recent purchase was an HSG fiber laser. The HS-G3015 has a bed size of 3 000mm x 1 500mm and maximum cutting thicknesses of 18mm for carbon steel, 10mm for stainless steel, 6mm for brass, 8mm for aluminium and 4mm copper. Metal Chip Machinery markets this equipment
“There are a multitude of products that we have manufactured. Products such as various desk and office accessories including clocks for the desk and wall, calendars in many different forms, rulers, mouse and desk pads, diaries, clipboards, lever arch and ring binder files, conference folders, name stands, paper and pen holders and boxes, trays, frames, waste paper bins, business card holders and various other types of folders. All of them are generally custom made to your design incorporating your logo and colour scheme.”
“Promotional items such as tags, badges, clips, swizzle sticks, bookmarkers, fridge magnets, licence disk holders, coasters and even metal business cards are all examples of items that we have manufactured for large and small companies. All of them are made to be eye-catching items that are not only functional but leave a lasting impression on the user or customer.”
“But it does not stop there. We have manufactured door names and numbers, brochure, paper, condiment and product holders, door, toilet, elevator and reception signs, various types of boxes and enclosures, trophies and awards.”
“As we say if you have a concept we will design it, make it and brand it for you if it is a ‘doable’ and effective concept. And we are not limited to production runs. One-offs are also very much part of our mix.”
“However, even though we now have a multitude of machines and processes at our disposal, not all concepts are possible. We are equipped with light fabrication machinery, including computer numerically controlled punching equipment, bending and routing, guillotining and hydraulic pressing equipment, as well as a powder coating, sandblasting and a polishing line. We are also able to offer engraving, digital printing, screen and pad printing equipment services.”
Metal Graphics have recently installed a Bodor fiber laser marking machine
Metal Graphics manufactures all of its own tools and dies whether it is for pressing or die cutting. The Arix V450A machining center comes in very handy when this work is required but so does its CNC router with an 8-station tool changer, which it uses to cut dies in aluminium that are used on the AMOB hydraulic press
“We work on PC and not Apple Mac so there are specific artwork requirements. But it is not a case of slapping a logo onto some aluminum and the end result is a really cool-looking product in shiny metal.”
“Clients don’t see the gap between concept and execution and how a shop must plug it in to meet expectations. As a result of this misunderstanding these customers can have an unrealistic notion of what the true costs of manufacturing are. They underestimate the real value delivered by a capable company.”
“There are many complex tasks that are asked of us and these tasks require skilled input. We do have some of the latest equipment and software at our disposal but there are difficulties with designing and manufacturing. We do not want to disappoint clients but sometimes the expectations are too high. We believe that we create works of art – beautiful creations that convey meaning. Creating a true piece of art, rather than creating a display strictly for marketing or advertising purposes, is what we are all about. We’re proud to manufacture these products and have them recognised as symbolic emblems of our clients.”
What really sets Metal Graphix apart?
The company doesn’t have a product that exemplifies its brand. It has a service that can change from one job to the next. For one client, the company manages a complicated project, designing it from the ground up. For another client, Metal Graphics makes the product from drawings and logos supplied.
“We have mastered the work flow for the diverse mix of jobs that we are engaged in. But the mix of work does present its challenges.”
Showing the company’s versatility it also has a Mimaki JF-1631 UV-curable eight-color inkjet flatbed printer that uses the UV ARC-Lamp technology for curing inks instantly. Common substrates to print are arcrylics, woods, PVC, vinyl, coroplast, styrene, plastics and polycarbonates
Metal Graphics has its own coating plant
“Everyone says, ‘We strive to deliver quality work on time, every time.’ Everyone touts great service, and everyone says they bend over backward for clients. These attributes have become the ticket to entry, especially in some of the more competitive areas. But they don’t really set a shop apart.”
“Could our mix of machinery and processes be a factor? I’ve spoken with others in the industry that have told me that a unique capability mix is becoming increasingly important. We don’t have a proprietary product line or proprietary machines, but our mix of manufacturing machines and ideally our expertise does make us unique.”
“Nonetheless even this isn’t impossible for a competitor to copy. And does bringing more processes in-house improve our competitive position? The answer isn’t clear-cut, and it depends on relationships with outside suppliers, our core competencies, the markets we serve and more.”
“A certain combination of processes may bring more clients into the fold, but even a continuous improvement in processes doesn’t make us entirely unique.”
“The tools of lean manufacturing and other continuous improvement methods to save on costs and improve quality are widely published and available to any company willing to make the investment.”
“Are we just a collection of metal fabrication technology and processes, and nothing more? Of course not. 90% of our clients are in the advertising agency business or are PR companies or promotional gift companies and they don’t care how the product is made. They just want the product to look like an Oscar wining award so that they can impress their clients and they want it tomorrow. I would attribute our lean methodology, our dynamic scheduling and our number of years in the industry as to why we’re able to gobble up so much market share. This is exactly what sets us apart, I believe.”
“This has been our philosophy from the beginning and it has paid dividends. No client is too small or too big.”
New CoastOne C15 servo electric press brake
The mix of machines at Metal Graphics is numerous, all carefully purchased to match the company’s manufacturing portfolio. Metal Graphics does not serve the industrial metal manufacturing industry so the company does not need large heavy-duty equipment.
This is highlighted with the company’s recent purchase – a CoastOne C15 servo electric press brake – which is ideally suited for bending smaller components, was supplied by Metal Chip Machinery. It only has a 44-ton force and 1 600mm bending length.
These days Metal Graphics does not only do designing and manufacturing of promotional products. With the equipment that the company has at its disposal they are winning contracts to process industrial type components such as aluminium roofing brackets
Custom made enclosures and toolboxes in different finishes are also manufactured at Metal Graphics
Another recent purchase was a HSG fiber laser. The HS-G3015 has a bed size of 3 000mm x 1 500mm and maximum cutting thicknesses of 18mm for carbon steel, 10mm for stainless steel, 6mm for brass, 8mm for aluminium and 4mm copper.
The company has various other press brakes of different capabilities including an Ermaksan HAP 1270 x 35 press brake, a guillotine, conventional drills and mills, an AMOB hydraulic press, an Amada polishing machine and an Arix V450A machining center.
Tool and die cutting
Metal Graphics manufactures all of its own tools and dies whether it is for pressing or die cutting. The Arix V450A machining center comes in very handy when this work is required but so does its CNC router with an 8-station tool changer, which it uses to cut dies in aluminium that are used on the AMOB hydraulic press.
Another recent investment has been in a Bodor fiber laser marking machine.
Showing the company’s versatility it also has a Mimaki JF-1631 UV-curable eight-color inkjet flatbed printer that uses the UV ARC-Lamp technology for curing inks instantly. Common substrates to print are arcrylics, woods, PVC, vinyl, coroplast, styrene, plastics and polycarbonates.
“We at Metal Graphics love to design and assist our customers to create products from a broad range of items from office accessories to industrial name plates. We are always endeavouring to assist you in your search to make the office or home environment more aesthetically pleasing and doing so by using great people with state-of-the-art graphic and product design tools.”
“We do all our own branding in-house where we cover a huge variety of options from embossing to engraving, routing, laser-cutting, screen and pad printing, vinyl printing to the lamination of vinyl.”
“One thing that binds together these diverse brands of manufacturing is a common challenge: Standing apart in a competitive market,” concluded Ellis.
For further details contact Metal Graphics on TEL: 011 822 1380 or visit www.metalgraphics.co.za