Customer Stories 02/02/2021
Podiumwear is a Minnesota-based company focused on designing and manufacturing of custom sports apparel. Its product gamut ranges from cycling jerseys, bibs, shorts, to jackets, vests, skinsuits and more to provide for sports teams and clubs.
Founded in 2003 the company started with two employees, producing only Nordic ski apparel. The business has grown significantly since then, requiring new systems to increase production capacity. In their search for an efficient laser cutter, they found their solution in Summa’s L1810 helping to manage their cutting workflow.
For a long time, Podiumwear used another brand of laser cutter to handle its product manufacturing. But from the moment the company started to manufacture soccer gear they noticed a bottleneck in their existing cutting workflow. They concluded a faster solution was needed and they needed that solution fast.
Reid Lutter, owner at Podiumwear explains: “Soccer apparel is manufactured in much larger quantities than cycling and ski apparel. Consequently, we were confronted with a bottleneck in cutting, preventing us from meeting demands. So, we desperately needed a solution to speed-up capacity. When we saw the L1810 in production during a trade show in Dallas, it dawned on us that this piece of fine engineering might just be the solution we were looking for. Now, we can produce vast quantities of soccer gear effortlessly and with incredible speed.”
With COVID-19 on the rise, Podiumwear felt the need to put their new equipment into good use. Summa’s laser division – CadCam Technology – helped Podiumwear to start producing mouth masks with the L1810. By creating a workflow with registrations marks the system allows a bleed on the masks. This enabled to do edge-to-edge cutting extremely fast without the need to sew the masks together.
According to Reid Lutter, the L1810 already proved its added value in cutting mouth masks: “An additional curveball was the possibility of the L1810 to produce mouth masks given the COVID-19 situation. We used the optical camera on the machine to work as efficiently as possible. This enabled us to produce over 4,000 masks and helped us sustain, even during a pandemic.”
Podiumwear states that it is thanks to Summa’s L1810 laser cutter that the company now has an increase of about 10% in yield on fabrics. One of the features they find a true perk besides the speed, is the possibility to produce products without the edges fraying. According to Reid, this avoids the creation of hard cut lines that would cut the skin. Instead, the L1810 finishes the edges perfectly and allows a very adjustable and flexible workflow, tailored to the specifications of the job.
The installation of a laser cutting machine remains a challenge due to the highly specific configurations adapted to the customer needs. The experience of Podiumwear is similar, nevertheless the company talks with praise about Summa America:
“Summa America, as well as CadCam Technology, kept in touch the entire time and never let go until the L1810 was all set up and ready to perform and create astonishing products. Of course, there is a learning curve in any new situation. This is good because then you find out what the machine is truly capable of. But especially when dealing with minor issues, continued customer service – as we experienced with Summa America and CCT - is of great importance.”
Meanwhile, the operators on the L1810 – who were unsure and weary to bring in the new laser cutter at the beginning – now use the machine daily and are even talking about converting old files in a way they can also be used on the L1810 laser cutter.