"We do have, in fact, the largest format cutting equipment available in the country," he says. As a result, business is coming in from right across New Zealand, and starting to come in from across the Tasman.
Karsten’s have forged a reputation in the meantime for their good personal service and prompt delivery, two necessary aspects of business in today’s competitive printing environment. This reputation is partly due to the fact that it is a family-owned and operated company where Earl is always available to talk to customers.
"We turn work around very quickly and our business philosophy is to put our customers’ needs first. Deadlines are getting very compressed in this industry and we endeavour to meet those deadlines," he says.
A&E Karsten’s core business has traditionally been the manufacture and distribution of packaging products to other industries and it initially bought the two machines for their own in-house work to service these markets. But the company quickly found that both the die cutter and guillotine were in demand from printers who’d had difficulty finding someone to fulfil their oversized and undersized cutting and diecutting needs.
The Australian-made Converta Diecutter was installed in July last year, and the Perfecta Cutting System guillotine just before Christmas. Since then, work has been pouring in for both machines, still the largest of their type in the country, which stand side by side in the Karsten factory.
The die cutter is built to handle any material from paper and board through to hard plastic, foam, PVC, leather, rubber, polypropylene and cloth in widths up to 2.5 metres. The company has even cut carpet samples on it. The width the machine takes, makes it economical and efficient to use and it produces a high quality finish whatever the material.
Earl says he chose the Converta die cutter because of its construction and the quality job it produces every time. The flat bed roller die cutting press works on the principal where material is placed on the cutting forme, at the beginning of the run process the forme is pushed by conveyor belt towards two main rollers which draws the form between them with enough force to cut the material.
Like A&E Karsten, the Converta machine is also manufactured by a family-owned and operated business which has its base in Melbourne.
The Perfecta guillotine can also cut just about anything, including carpet. It takes substrates up to 1.68m wide and 2.4m long. It can cut material up to 160mm thick at one time (depending on hardness) and is accurate to within 001mm. It has a minimum cut of 26mm, which Earl says is an extra bonus because there are very few facilities where material of this width can be cut.
While Karsten’s has used the machine to cut the traditional paper and board products, it has also been used to cut shower curtains, PE packaging foam, un-printed paylite and upholstery material.
The fully automated Perfecta uses the latest technology, providing a finger touch screen control panel to enable simple programming. It has a full air table for ease of movement of any material and can be operated by one person. It comes with some specialist knives for cutting PVC.
Another feature of the German-manufactured machine that Earl likes is its safety specifications, which are higher than any necessary for New Zealand OSH compliance.