Essex-based Metallic Elephant was initially established to provide ‘a service and rebuild facility’ for hot-foil presses, which use heat to transfer adhesive-backed foil onto a wide range of goods — from luxury handbags to bespoke stationery.
However, it soon became clear to founders Karl and Ros French that there was a good market for high-quality British-designed and British-made presses and dies.
The development of the company’s own range of hot-foil presses began six years ago, and its systems have been supplied to many household names around the world, such as Samsonite, Next, Harrods, Burberry, Prada and Tiffany.
These businesses place the machines front-of house to give customers an instant and bespoke service. The demand is such that Metallic Elephant typically builds and delivers 350 presses — along with the associated dies and letter sets — every year.
Key to the company’s success has been its speed of response to customer orders for both machines and dies, plus the inherent quality that makes it proud to wear the ‘Made in Britain’ badge.
Some 99% of the content of its machines is manufactured or sourced in the UK.
Mr French (www.metallicelephant.co.uk
) said: “Quality is important, along with our ‘Made in Britain’ approach, and our success rate when we demonstrate a press to a customer in our showroom is testament to that.”
In the early days of manufacture many of the components for the presses were sourced from sub-contract suppliers, but with continuing strong demand — 25% year-on-year growth in the past four years alone — quality and lead-time issues began to surface, and Metallic Elephant was drawn to the prospect of bringing machining in-house.
Manufacturing manager Wayne Mason said: “Delays caused by quality and general late deliveries were beginning to impact on our ability to maintain deliveries, so we had to make changes.
"The first step was to replace an old manual machine with an XYZ SLX ProtoTrak-controlled lathe (www.xyzmachinetools.com
This made us realise the potential of CNC, as it was so straightforward, and it certainly influenced our next purchase — an XYZ 1000 LR vertical machining centre.
"The arrival of these two machines have given us control over manufacturing, as we are now machining around 30% of our parts in-house — a figure that will increase.
"As a result, we are also making things better and more efficiently, which in turn makes us more cost-effective and able to compete globally.”