Dolphin Sails, one of the largest manufacturers of sails, covers and awnings in the UK, has just installed a new Blackman and White Mastercut heavy duty automated flatbed cutting machine which is both improving productivity and saving costs.
The Mastercut is a versatile machine which has a multi-tool head that holds both a knife blade and a laser cutter so one machine can be used for cutting a wide range of materials without having to change tools.
Dolphin’s managing director Mathew Vincent commented “We use the latest high-tech composite and laminated fabrics for our sails, tensile awnings and covers. Even though they’re laminated, they are woven textiles, and if they’re cut with a knife the edges then have to be sewn to prevent fraying. The laser cutter heat-seals the edges of the material as it cuts which means not only can we can cut fabrics faster, but it eliminates the need for sewing the material edges, so dramatically reducing handling time.”
The Mastercut has a 3.2 x 14 metre flat bed which means Dolphin is now able to handle much larger patterns for all their sails and covers. The laser cuts with an accuracy of ±0.02mm, and as it’s not in direct contact with the material, it means that even though it operates at speeds up to 1100mm/second, there’s no dragging of the material so cutting is far more accurate than with a knife. Fully automated nesting algorithms allow patterns to be laid out to the exact material width in seconds saving time and reducing wastage even further.
Vincent added, “Although we’ve only had the new Mastercut a few weeks, we’ve already experienced savings of 2-3% on material costs due to the increased accuracy, and as these materials are expensive, the savings are significant. Being able to cut and heat seal materials simultaneously speeds up production and reduces labour costs. It means we have increased our productivity at the same time as providing the very highest quality sails, awnings and covers for our customers.”