Cutting systems and routers for wide-format printing.
As printers get wider, one handy feature included on many is the ability to gang smaller jobs into one print run. This conserves media and saves money. In order for this capability to work for your company, however, you must have the hardware to separate all these prints before delivery to the client.
A plethora of machines are available that will cut your printed graphics-from the thinnest of films to the heaviest and densest of synthetic materials. Generally, cutters can be classified into three categories: cutters/trimmers that only make straight cuts (manual or motorized); rollfed or flatbed machines that offer contour cutting and routing (from simple vinyl cutting to complex cuts generated by reading printed registration marks); and larger flatbed and CNC (computer numerically controlled) machines that offer traditional cuts as well as dimensional cuts using a range of tool heads (such as a variety of knife blades, kiss cuts, creasing, engraving, etc.).
Before purchasing a cutter/router, you should analyze your company’s needs:
* Do you generally need to cut vinyl, rolled graphics, or heavy-duty rigid substrates?
* Do most of your jobs call for straight cuts, contour cuts, or for an elaborate combination of cutting, kiss cuts, and creasing (used by many prototype/packaging firms)?
* Does manual cutting fit into your workflow? Or do you need an electric cutter for faster finishing, thicker media, and more elaborate cutting?
* Does the shop have space for a standalone machine? Or should you pursue a tabletop model, or perhaps mount the cutter on the wall to save floor space?
The sourcelist that follows offers a sampling of companies across the marketplace that produce cutting and routing systems designed for wide-format graphics.
Akiles Products (www.akiles.com): Its 36-in. Roll@Blade 3615 Roto Trimmer will cut media up to 2-mm thick.
Allen Datagraph Systems (www.allendatagraph.com): The SmartMark-equipped Series 1000 cutter (in 36-, 48-, and 60-in. widths) features its SmartMark system that scans printed registration marks and then launches the contour-cut process, adjusting for scale or skew. The SmarkMark system can also be mounted onto its Allen i-Tech vinyl cutters, which are available in several sizes up to 60-in. wide.