MaxAir Trampolines‘ New Year’s resolution is, “No more hand cutting!”. In January 2015 we installed our WT-174″ Plotter/Cutter at their manufacturing facility in Grand Rapids, MI to help cut trampoline mesh and PVC gymnasium pads. We knew this was going to significantly improve their work-flow and grow production — what we didn’t expect was by how much! Here are some of the amazing expressions we heard throughout the installation:
- “Wow, that just tripled the speed of the whole thing!”
- “This is a game changer – this room alone is going to produce a million bucks now that we have your cutter.”
- “That was [cut] lightening fast.”
- “We are going to bury our sewers”
- Steve to Paul: “That would have taken you half a day!” referring to a 4 minute cut.
- “They fit perfect” – checking the first cuts.
- “That’s the coolest thing in the world”
- “Life is going to be so much better”
- After fitting a new pad: “One of the best fitting [covers] I’ve ever seen. Unbelievable – no wrinkles. Perfect fit. Crazy good.”
President of Maxair Trampolines, Paul Hagan, has been making trampolines for over 30 years — making his first trampoline in High School metal shop class in 1979. Paul found the guarded and comptetive nature of the trampoline industry left him few options for getting help to source and design the ultimate high-bounce super-tramp. In order to create a trampoline extreme athletes could use to work on their off-axis aerial maneuvers he had to design, build, and weave his own trampolines. In 2010 Maxair debuted their 14’x14′ Super Quad trampoline which was an immediate success. To meet the market’s demand for their high bounce tramps Paul has decided to automate the marking and cutting of their trampolines, pads, and stencils using a Carlson WT-174″ Plotter/Cutter on a 14.5’x16′ Phillocraft vacuum table. Steve Chan, part owner of Maxair, draws Paul’s trampoline and gymnastic pad designs in Sketchup. Using the Carlson Sketchup plugin –which allows you to quickly draw plot and cut lines and export ready-to-cut 2D patterns — they plan to draw 50 new pad designs in 2015. During our installation we worked closely with Paul and Steve to help them automate existing patterns and help them design several new ones. These guys are in for a big year!
Below we will walk you through the details of their ultra-wide system, its setup, their time and material savings, and the different projects they cut using their new ultra-wide Carlson cutting system. At the end we’ll show a step-by-step picture guide to the installation.
WT-174″ Plotter/Cutter System:
At 174″ wide MaxAir’s WT-174″ Plotter/Cutter is the widest system in North America (for now!). This system is identical to the one installed at byDESIGN in Nairobi, Kenya and 2″ wider than the 172″ wide system we installed at Ulster PVC in Northern Ireland. The WT is designed specifically for cutting ultra-wide fabrics and is capable of plotting/cutting up to 159″ wide material. To accommodate the added loads associated with ultra-wide systems the WT has 4X larger X motors, 2X larger steered cutting motor, X drive load wheels to extend trolley life, and stretched drive plates to ensure the machine cannot rack out-of-square. All of the internal components are over spec’d and housed on a removable cassette that slides out of the right side of the machine. This allows for easy service and maintenance without needing to remove the system from the table. To reduce weight the power-supply lives off board.
Setup: Why the WT-174 Plotter/Cutter
They chose to get a our 14.5′ wide system to cut their wider PVC fabrics and mesh materials. Cutting their patterns out of wide PVC allows them to make gymnasium pads with fewer seams and cuts. Their shop space dictated the length of the table to only 16′. Having just expanded their sewing department they were hesitant to fill it with a 40′ long table, deciding instead to get a shorter table that was more affordable and uses less real estate. As the grow production, our endless-frame Phillocraft vacuum tables can are easily expanded. Something they are already planning to do! In the meantime, we use our virtual table software to help them break long patterns into smaller parts.
Let’s look at some of the projects they cut using their WT-174″ Plotter/Cutter!
Their first cut took an hour to draw in Sketchup and then four minutes to plot and cut. That’s amazing — previously it took nine hours to cut two pads by hand. Now that this pad is designed every future pad takes only 4 minutes to plot/cut! That includes NOT needing to climb all over the table.
This is our first cut at Maxair Trampolines. They are using our WT-174″ Plotter/Cutter on a 14.5’x16′ long vacuum table to cut 18oz PVC with a 28mm steel rolling blade. Their electrician is still wiring the blowers, so this cut is WITHOUT the vacuum turned on. These parts were designed in Sketchup, nested in Plotmaster, and then plot/cut in less than 4 minutes. Listen at the end of the video — you can hear Steve declare, “That was lightening fast” and “That would have taken me half a day”. Not bad for our first cut!
PROJECT 2: Virtual Tables
To save space and keep initial automation costs down MaxAir purchased only a 16′ long table to start. However, many of the initial gymnasium pads they would like to plot/cut are longer than their table. To handle these larger projects we use our virtual table software to split their patterns into multiple parts.
This next project — a 20′ long pattern, cut on a 16′ long table — normally takes half a day to cut each pattern. Using the plotter/cutter we are able to draw, plot, and cut the entire job in half an hour. That includes the time to design the pattern, cut the first one, modify it, and then cut another one! WOW THAT’S FAST!
Watch this step-by-step, un-edited demonstration of how to cut a pattern longer than your table (~7min). Carlson Design’s Plotmaster software makes cutting long patterns into multiple parts quick and easy. To cut a virtual table: break your pattern into multiple parts using Pedit. Select your first part and plot/cut it. Advance your material. Align it with the table. Position the plotter/cutter on the alignment mark. Select the second part of your pattern and hit go! It’s that easy.
After they finish cutting this 20′ long pattern they need to plot a straight line 9″ from the edge on the backside of the fabric. We show them how to flip, align their fabric, and use the plotter/cutter to mark the backside.
The WT-174″ Plotter/Cutter quickly and accurately cuts trampoline mesh with a 28mm steel rolling blade. The weight of the mesh allows it to lay flat and NOT shift during the cut, even though we are not using any vacuum.
We visited the local trampoline gym Aerials and Baranis which features Maxair’s trampolines and a few of their competitors tramps. For fun Paul asked the five kids jumping which trampolines which tramps were their favorites. Without the kids knowing who made which tramp, 4 out of 5 picked a Maxair Trampolines. How about that review!
Project 4: Cutting Strips Start-to-Finish
Here is a candid video of the Carlson WT-174″ Plotter/Cutter getting setup to cut two strips out of a piece of scrap material. Total cut time is less than 30 seconds. Total start to finish setup less than 2 minutes. Can you picture yourself working on a project like this?
Project 5: Cutting a Stencil
Maxair Trampolines is using their WT-174″ Plotter/Cutter to cut a stencil with our carbide drag blade holder. These will be used to paint customer logos on trampolines and mats.
Now that we’ve seen several of their projects, let’s see how this ultra-wide system was installed.
Setting up an ultra-wide system is a little more difficult than setting up our standard 6′ wide gantry, as the system is wider and heavier. However, with the help of Maxair’s team — Paul, Steve, and Jeff — we were able to setup their entire system by 2PM on the first day of the installation. Below are pictures detailing their installation and how they helped get setup so quickly.
Here’s a video demonstration of our soft home. The origin of every plot/cut is where ever the pen is located. This allows the operator to start a cut from anywhere on the table.
We would like to give a big thanks to Paul, Steve, Jeff, and Donna for a fantastic installation. Thank for showing us a great time in Grand Rapids, MI. We look forward to seeing your future success.