Elite Engraving and Embroidery
20-year business owner Jim Buker incorporates new machinery to stay ahead of the competition
In business for 20 years, Elite Engraving & Embroidery knows that to stay ahead of your competition you must seek out tools and equipment that allow you to offer your customers what other vendors can’t. That’s why they decided to purchase an Epilog Laser system.
“We decided to purchase a laser system for several reasons,” said Jim Buker, owner of Elite Engraving & Embroidery. “We felt in order to stay ahead of our competitors we needed to add something new to our business, but we also wanted something that would work in conjunction with existing equipment. The laser fulfilled that requirement since it is able to cut fabrics for appliqués in our embroidery system, and also engrave just about everything else I previously could not with my other two router engravers.”
We are doing jobs now that we would never have gotten before, and we’ve improved the quality and complexity of existing work, which has drawn great kudos for our customers.
Though Jim had seen laser engraving systems in action before, he had relatively limited knowledge about the equipment and its capabilities.
“I have to say I had no idea what to look for in a laser engraving system, so I had to educate myself,” Jim said. “I did this by talking with long-standing suppliers who I purchase from who were using several different laser systems. After talking with some folks in the industry, it boiled down to three manufacturers.
“I needed a reliable, easy-to-operate laser, compatible with Corel software (which I have been using for sublimation for many years), I also wanted to make sure that there was support after the sale. The consensus was that Epilog backs what they sell,” Jim explained.
After educating himself and determining his laser needs, Jim went ahead with the investment.
“I decided to purchase an Epilog Laser Helix because it got great reviews from the people I spoke to. The one major criterion that I did have was a significant Z-axis depth, and Epilog has the deepest. I require that because I engrave cremation urns and I needed the maximum depth I could get.”
Jim tells us the materials he works with most include metals and fabrics. He also is experimenting with unique applications with laser foil as well as using vector and raster techniques to create an inlaid look in wood.
“I have also invented a laser jig device that fits nicely into the laser bed frame, which holds level all kinds of irregularly-shaped items that are especially difficult to keep level and engrave,” Jim said.
The variety of materials and applications the Epilog Laser system can work with has had a huge impact on the services Elite Engraving & Embroidery can provide, Jim explains.
“Laser engraving has opened up lots of possibilities for us, simply because of the versatility of it,” he said. “Our laser has enhanced our embroidery work using fabrics and relieved our embroidery machines from huge embroidery files. We also make a lot of wooden plaques of various sizes and shapes. Usually each one requires a template which I can vector cut out from bristle board, which has saved me tremendous time in the plaque layouts.