In October, Summa bought CadCam Technology and its subsidiary GS UK. Images talks to business development and marketing manager Geert Pierloot to find out more about the company, its history and what the future holds for its two new acquisitions

It’s probable that most garment and textile decorators will be unfamiliar with Belgian company Summa, unless they also happen to offer sign printing services. That’s likely to change, however, following the company’s recent acquisition of laser cutting machine manufacturer CadCam Technology (CCT) and its sister company, GS UK. Summa started out in the early 1970s making recording devices for the manufacture of precision optical lenses, before it began modifying pen-plotters – by replacing the pens with blades for vinyl-cutting applications – in 1987. As the market grew, so did the company. It became one of the first to design and build specific cutter-plotters for vinyl, explains business development and marketing manager Geert Pierloot.

“All the rest were still more or less modifying pen-plotters,“ he explains. Today the company is a leading manufacturer of vinyl cutters, with the sign making industry a core market for its products. In 1999, the company became privately owned, with the major shareholder an American. For 17 years it remained under this ownership until, in 2016, a Belgian investment group called GIMV bought it. With the new ownership came a drive to look at new markets. “Laser cutting was one of the things they wanted to go into,“ says Geert. “This is why CadCam Technology came into the picture. Since the ‘90s we‘ve had a good relationship with them – CadCam uses technology from us inside their machines, and we use software technology from them.” For example, the Contour Cut Laser System and the Contour Cut Vision Laser System from CCT both incorporate Summa- developed motors, controllers, firmware and touchscreens.

Moving into lasers

While cutting with knives is still used widely, there are distinct advantages to using laser technology, Geert explains, adding that, “laser gives us the opportunity to grow into markets we‘re not in yet.” Summa is following carefully the growth of digital printing in the textile market, especially in areas like sportswear. “More and more textiles are printed digitally and the equipment is growing very fast. The products and technology we are used to seeing in our sign-making industry, we‘re now seeing them in the textile market. As a finishing company, we wanted to follow this and make sure we are in the lead, technology-wise.” 

This is the reason for purchasing CCT. The Summa website already links to the CCT laser cutting products, and the CCT brand will eventually transition to Summa. “We want to make the CadCam products more Summa look-a-likes. It needs some facelifts and some cost improvements, this is what we plan in the next six months to a year, along with more products for soft signage,“ Geert reports. At least two Summa laser machines are expected to be launched within the next six months, with the main focus being on textile and soft signage applications.

Summa bought CCT and GS UK in October this year

As for GS UK, distributor of DTG printers, embroidery machines, software and consumables, the future is less clear. “We see CadCam as a manufacturer of equipment worldwide, where GS is a dealer in the UK,“ says Geert. “It was not our focus to buy GS, but GS is a very interesting dealership. It has interesting products, a lot of experience and knowledge and, as far as I know, a very good name in the market.“ At the moment, there is no strategic plan for GS UK. “The whole GS business, for us, is a learning curve. Obviously there is a lot of competence and experience in embroidery, which is totally different equipment to what we have. What we see is a lot of potential: embroidery is coming back to the UK, so we see opportunities there. It‘s the same for printing. Printing is coming back to Europe because of the lower volumes and the increase in custom jobs. We believe in the potential of GS based on the reputation of its goods and its knowledge.”