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SQ - Volume 1, Number 3 1997

Volume 1, Number 3 • 1997

April Sparr

Layout and Design
Adam Souders
Michelle Stonesifer

Contributing Writers
Art Aguilar
Jim Jones
Billy Willis


Words To Live By
A Word from the Owner

Trouble Shooting
Insight to help your production, produce

Sales Strategies
Pricing How To’s Part 2

Tips and Secrets
Artwork Preparation

Customer Spotlight
Reflecting Brilliance


Words to Live By
by Randy Willis, Owner

"We care" was the slogan under John’s name badge. I couldn’t help pondering the irony of that statement as I stood in a long line of tired people waiting for their number to be served. "Now serving number thirty-six, thirty-six, please come to the front desk" whined the electronic voice over the intercom. I looked down at the crumpled ticket in my hand in a fleeting moment of hope that I had read it wrong the previous twelve times. Still, the mocking black and yellow stub glared number fifty-two. My eyes drifted back to John who was busily punching numbers into a computer in between answering phone calls. "Customer Service, this is John, can you hold?" Without waiting for a response, John put the phone down and scurried off to a fax machine. A few seconds later he picked up the phone again, "Thank you for holding......Yessss, we do... but I’ll need to transfer you to shipping, please hold." Click. Beep, beep, beep. "Frank, pick-up line 2. Frank, line 2." As I stood in line observing John, I noticed the myriad of fax machines, computers, and printers. The front desk had one of those computer touch screens to help you find what you were looking for. As I stood in line thinking about all the "conveniences" the store seemed to have, I wondered why I was feeling so inconvenienced. Already irritated at the long line, I began to get further annoyed with my notion that talking with a real, live human being would solve my problem. Earlier this week I had tried calling a couple of times, but the electronic answering service designed to make my life easier never gave me the touch tone number I was looking for.

In the rat race we so often live in, we sometimes forget why we are working so hard. When we find ourselves doing things twice, because we were too busy to get it right the first time, or realize that it has been months since we have actually spoken to that customer who faithfully faxes us orders every month, it is time for re-evaluation. Voice mail, e-mail, fax machines, even phone calls can become the demise of valued relationships if we are not careful. As I continued to observe John, I was impressed at his diligence in attending all of his duties. He appeared to be very thorough. Nonetheless, in all of his efforts I couldn’t help but think he had forgotten about one important thing... me. "We Care" did not seem to mean much to all of us standing in a long line, directed to different departments, put on hold, or even ignored. "Duty" is good. It causes us to reach our goals, obtain rewards, keep and gain new prospects. However, "duty" in itself is not a means to an end. If we forget why we our being so dutiful, we will lose sight of our purpose, the customer. We, like John, can become so consumed with the business of the day, that we actually cause our business to diminish. In an industry that is known for personalization, be careful not to depersonalize your relationships. How can we sell personalization if we ourselves are not personal? We should not use technology as a substitute for relationships. Anyone in business will tell you that one thing is for sure, there will be good and not so good years. It is the relationships you have built with your clients that will keep them coming back, not your fax machine. It’s the extra couple of minutes you give your customers without making them feel rushed that will make them feel valued. As time continues to speed along, let us be mindful not to depersonalize our service in an industry known for its unique personalization. SQ

Trouble Shooting
Insight to Help your Production Produce
by Billy Willis, contributing writer

 When exposing InstaMask™ photo resist material, it is important to remember that a successful exposure is determined by three factors: 1) material thickness (mill) 2) detail of image, and 3) quality/type of film tool.

Material Thickness:
Exposure times are determined by how much material needs to be cured. For example, the thinner the mill, the less exposure time required. Normal fluorescent room lighting has very little to no effect on InstaMask™ photo resist. An intense U.V. light source is required for proper exposures. Development, more commonly known as "washing out" is what determines the effects of your exposure times. If the edges of the developed photo resist are soft and "mushy," then the material has been underexposed. If the image proves to be stubborn and long washing times occur, the material could be overexposed. Usually, stubborn washout is caused by a film tool that is not opaque enough. When this occurs, the light penetrates the black areas causing the exposed area not to wash away properly.

Detail of Image:
Another factor when considering exposure times is the detail of your imagery. Fine, high resolution designs can be over exposed quickly. In some cases, decreasing the exposure time may help in the processing of thinner lines.

Quality/Type of Film Tool:
With the exception of artwork, your film tool is the most important factor in producing quality photomasks. The best option to use is a film positive. Film positives have the emulsion (black areas) infused into a clear film allowing for superior detail, opacity, and reusability. Film positives are not always obtainable and cost more than a UV vellum substitute. If you are using vellum, make sure it is opaque enough so as not to allow any light through the black areas of the design. To test, just hold it up to a light source and look to see if it is too transparent. Often, turning up the toner in your printer or copier will solve a light coverage problem. Touching up by hand with a permanent black ink marker is also helpful. Remember to do touch up work on the opposite side of the emulsion or toner. Bubble jet and Ink jet printers using ink and not toner, consequently do not usually print opaque enough and can sometimes bleed beyond the edge of the design. The heat fusing mechanisms of laser printers "bake" the toner onto the vellum leaving solid and opaque blacks. Inks can and do fade in opacity within a few weeks whereas "baked" toner will not. Since vellums range in weight and density, we recommend our RTZ UV vellum for best results.

Developing Photo Resist Materials
When developing InstaMask™ photo resist material, the pressure and temperature of the water is very important. Pressurized warm water causes the material to wash faster and clearer than cold, unpressurized water. Detail will come out sharper and more defined. Using cold water makes the imagery subject to "shifting" because of prolonged soaking. If you are using a hand washer, avoid low pressure washers similar to plant misters. Spraying distance should be about 3" - 6" from the surface of the masking to get the most optimal washing pressure. SQ

Sales Strategies
Pricing How To's (Part Two)
by Jim Jones, CCA Manager

A Quick Look Back
hank you for the great response on the previous pricing article. Remember, the comments I made directed toward establishing a wholesale base price; an additional markup is required to reach your suggested retail pricing, or your end recipient pricing. To help you establish that markup in pricing, keep a close watch on your competitors.
A business man out of Dallas stated, "I started out much too cheaply, and I am still dealing with the problems of weaning strong customers off of the cheap rates on repeat business." This comment shows the importance of establishing a track record of proper pricing in the beginning so as not to loose profits on future orders.

Pricing - It’s Your Future
I would like to address a comment made by a Wyoming business woman who asked, "Why approach pricing first? Isn’t quality of product more important?" I thought that was a fair question. To answer it, I have to say that those are two very different issues. I receive hundreds of questions and comments on pricing; of those calls, only a few deal with quality. Is that because quality has no value? Of course not! I believe it’s because producers gain an understanding of quality before they get a handle on pricing. A competitive pricing structure will help you sell into your market place for a proper profit. Quality production will give you an advantage, and in the long run, allow you to stay in business.

Allow me to leave you with these thoughts: A ceramic mug, that you paid $1.00 for, will have a suggested retail value of $10.00. An inexpensive plate and two flutes that you carve as wedding items, will retail for $120.00. You will have paid $16.00 for them. A beautiful 8 x 10 x 3/4 Starfire Award set on a high polished black granite or jade marble base will retail for over $300.00. You will pay approximately $60.00 for these pieces. These examples should help you understand mark-up.
Mark-up can become a difficult task for those of you who do not do production work, or whose work always seems to be very small custom pieces. There is no standard for markup on these types of pieces. Become as familiar with your market place as possible, understand your costs, and charge what the traffic will bear. There is no problem with a totally unique piece having a totally unique price.
Remember, do not demean the value of your carved items or your production services by selling them too cheaply. SQ

Tips and Secrets
Artwork Preparation

When is Artwork Needed?
The first thing to remember about artwork in regard to photomasking is BLACK = BLAST. Artwork must be "camera-ready" black and white, meaning no halftones, grays, or color. For example, making a black and white "Xerox" copy of color artwork does not mean it becomes camera ready. All blacks must be solid black, and all whites solid white. However, a copy is an excellent tool to show you what color areas need to be converted to solid black & white areas within your design:


Secondly, remember that a photomask is an exact reproduction of the artwork. This means if there are black lines breaking up in the artwork, they will break up on the photomask. Similarly, white lines too thin may "squiggle" during the development process or blow off when blasting. Refer to the chart below for a guide to minimum line thickness and maximum depth on different mills. A good rule of thumb to remember is that you can not blast deeper then your artwork (or line) is wide.


How do I do Artwork?
If you find that artwork may require clean up, you may do this manually or by using a computer. A few minutes of manual touch up could save you hours in a computer graphics program. In either case, use a copier to make a 200% enlargement of the design. If you are using a computer, take the enlargement and scan for touch up. Cleaning up the artwork at the enlarged size will give your design better resolution and clarity when reduced to the original size (a 50% reduction). If redrawing by hand, place a drawing mylar or tracing vellum over the enlargement to convert into camera ready black & white artwork. Using a good graphics pen with India ink will produce the best results as ball point pens and pencils do not produce opaque blacks.

Customer Spotlight
Reflecting Brilliance

Established: 1992
Owner: Terri Cameron
Employees: 3
Products Sold: Custom Pieces (one of a kind), CCA™ Catalog Items, River Rock, Wine Bottles, Metal Carvings, Custom Stone
Monthly Volume: 1,000 units, 100% blasted items
Unique Selling Point: Complete custom work: the ability to conceptualize and design, and produce artwork into a finished product.
Future Prospects: New Facility due to growth

Reflecting Brilliance uses Rayzist’s Clear Back InstaMask™ photo resist material exclusively. The 3-8 mill more than handles their wide array of carving. Terri joined the Crystal Carver Association™ within it’s first year and her company has benefited greatly from many referrals by CCA™. They use the Rayzist® RTZ 2236 Large Blasting Cabinet for all their carvings and the Rayzist® Custom Art Department on large photomasking orders.

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