SAi and software partner NetRom build precision software for large format printing and cutting 

SAi and software partner NetRom build precision software for large format printing and cutting 

Large format printing and cutting requires precision software 

Anyone who wants their brand to be remotely visible needs large-format letters, numbers and/or graphics. To produce these, you rely on special large-format printers or cutting devices, which are controlled by sophisticated, powerful software. SA International is a world leader in developing and supplying software specifically for these types of large format products.

SA International’s software consists of several modules. For example, there is a special design tool for large format – from one meter wide and (many times) larger: think of large advertising banners along the highway or the stickering of an entire high-speed train. If you send such a file to a large-format printer, it must be printed in individual elements depending on the dimensions. In the process, the software makes sure that the edges of those elements fit together properly. This kind of project requires a lot of digital processing power. Some products involve printing and cutting. SA International also provides software for CAD/CAM-based systems and for CNC processes such as turning, milling and grinding in materials like aluminum or plastic. This involves constructing 3D objects from existing material – you could say this is the reverse of 3D printing where you build something layer by layer.

Large group of international customers

The companies using SA International’s printing and cutting software come from all over the world. They are mostly small and midsize suppliers of large-format products. The software is also supplied to the OEM market as a standard software package with all kinds of hardware used in large-format production.  

One of AS International’s main software products is Flexi, a solid desktop application with a size of 1 GB that requires 250 GB of workspace. “Eventually, most desktop applications will be replaced by cloud applications,” says Lloyd Cundiff, chief technology officer (CTO) at SA International. “But large format products involve very heavy files, where you benefit from a fixed data connection between the hardware where the application runs and the hardware that drives production.” So for now, on premise software is here to stay, although ‘cloud’ is on the roadmap.


For a long time, SA International itself had a sizable team of about 50 developers, Cundiff says. “Software development is ultimately not about technology or programming languages, but about people. People build domain knowledge and are able to turn technical challenges into code. That is what determines our success.”

However, the 2008 financial crisis led to a sharp decline in sales of printing equipment. This also reduced demand at SA International, which was forced to reduce development capacity for SA International’s main product – a small number of developers remained on board.

Naturally, SA International wanted to scale up again when the market recovered. “That turned out to be easier said than done. It had become very difficult to find good developers. From someone from another company in our industry, we got the tip to contact NetRom, a company that would have specific domain expertise in large format printing – which is pretty unusual in our market. We quickly saw that there were excellent opportunities to start working together.”

Start of collaboration 

The collaboration between NetRom and SA International began in 2015. “We initially engaged NetRom to work on software for two tools: the Flexi Color Profiler and SAi Connect. The latter is a desktop application that allows you to download or update software, manage licenses and access tools and production statistics.”

NetRom put together a scrum team that already had experience in the print and media business: eight developers and two QA specialists. This allowed the team to immediately think well about the architecture and functionalities of the platform that supports end users in performing complex print tasks.

In addition, NetRom is now also working on the development of a cloud product. A mixed team has been assembled for that as well, with a developer in Salt Lake City and three developers in Romania. “At the start of that project, we said to NetRom: develop a new cloud application from scratch. We wanted to build the best software available in the market,” Cundiff says. “After some time, it became clear that while we would create a great product this way, it would also narrow our niche. Therefore, we later took a step back. We gave the NetRom team the source code of our best desktop product with the request to use it in developing a new cloud solution.”

Embracing new ways of working 

Working with a nearshore partner requires changes in your own working methods, Cundiff explains. “First of all, you work closely together in a mixed team, because, as mentioned, making software is human work. So frequent coordination and consultation is essential, at least for us. The biggest challenge here is the time difference: think of morning meetings between 07:00 and 09:00 with NetRom team members. But on the other hand, we ourselves have developers in different time zones: in Salt Lake City, Sao Paulo and Philadelphia; and our product managers are in Tel Aviv and in Brussels. And to achieve a well-mixed team, we have largely adopted NetRom’s processes and methodologies. NetRom works with agile sprints and uses Jira, for example, where tasks are set.” To keep a grip on the complete development process, a well-prepared conference call takes place weekly.


Most of SA International’s software development – from Flexi, Sign Design letter, Rip to print-and-cut software – is now done by NetRom, making it a partner of strategic value to SA International. For example, NetRom has made its mark with the cloud-based Artwork Approval Tool, which allows a client to review and approve a design at the detail level, making discussions about the end result afterwards a thing of the past. And with FlexiQuote, determining the time required for design, production and installation time is now very straightforward. Also part of Flexi: using artificial intelligence to predict how much ink is needed where and when for a particular job, for example for advertising campaigns in a specific region. 

By now, they are so well versed in the cloud solution that NetRom also provides management and support – the latter particularly for the part of the world that falls well outside our U.S. time zones. And whenever AS International chooses to develop a particular piece of software faster, scaling up is hassle-free and completed within  short timeframes.

Lloyd Cundiff, chief technology officer (CTO) at SA International

Top talent 

“We have access to top talent,” says Cundiff. “NetRom’s developers have excellent skills and there is a good culture focused on collaboration and creativity. This is also because NetRom is strongly committed to the development, engagement and well-being of their employees. We can put our challenges and questions to them, after which they come up with creative solutions that work. One example is that we wanted to go from a license to a subscription-based model. But with a desktop application, that’s just a little less straightforward than for a cloud solution. You need something that bridges the gap between a desktop application and a Web environment. The NetRom team quickly developed and built a separate application for this.”  

About SA International

SA International is a provider of one of the world’s leading software solutions for sign makers, digital printers and CNC (specialists working with computer-controlled milling machines) specialists. The company offers “print & cut”- and CAD/CAM software solutions for CNC applications. The software is used by more than 250,000 customers in more than 50 countries and is available in 13 languages. SA International has an extensive network of resellers and partners worldwide. The company is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, but has offices in several countries. The company employs about 370 people.

Back-end technologies

Looking for reliable software development services?
See how we can help.