Models manufacturer Metcalfe Models and Toys will install a Polar N 78 Eco guillotine later this month to boost its cutting efficiency and capability.
The Skipton, North Yorkshire-based business began life in the mid-1990s as a commercial printer but the production of models and toys had become its sole focus by the end of the decade.
“I’d already been producing these cardboard cut-out models before because my previous boss let me hire his machines at the weekend. But it grew into a business that became too big to run as a part-time venture,” said managing director Nick Metcalfe.
“For the first four years we were doing commercial printing as well as producing these printed, die-cut, flat-packed card kits – miniature buildings and houses. Then in 1999 we started to just concentrate purely on our own products.”
The models, which are built for railway enthusiasts, each consist of a complex set of printed and die-cut sheets which can be assembled to make everything from platforms, footbridges and stations through to hotels, churches and industrial units and with sheets of cobblestones, tarmac and other surfaces as well.
The company prints all models in-house on a Heidelberg GTO and die-cuts with a Heidelberg Cylinder and a Platen. It also runs a bank of laser cutters and a Lamina laminator.
The new Polar N 78 Eco, which cost £32,000 and is due to be installed in two weeks’ time, is replacing a 30-year-old Polar 76 EM, which the business bought secondhand 20 years ago and is now selling on to a dealer.
“The Polar guillotine we’ve got is reaching the end of its life. It has served us well but needs updating and we decided to buy new this time round. It will give us a slight increase in size and a definite increase in speed,” said Metcalfe.
With a length and depth of 780mm and clamp opening of up to 120mm, the N 78 Eco features a 5.5-inch monochrome screen.
10-staff Metcalfe Models and Toys turns over close to £1m, a figure Metcalfe said has “gone up quite a lot over the last few years”.
He added: “It’s very much a retirement hobby but there’s been a huge amount of interest generated this last year because of a Channel 5 series that showed in the autumn called The Great Model Railway Challenge, which we were one of the sponsors of. It’s being aired again this year so we’re quite hopeful.”
Producing a range of around 150 different kits in batches “never more than a couple of thousand”, Metcalfe said the products are “sold through just about every model shop in the country” and that the business ships 250,000 models a year worldwide.