Like a printer, a digital cutter utilizes software to streamline the finishing workflow. Vendors continue to update software to provide more accurate and efficient machines. Here we take a look at some of the products available.
EskoArtwork products utilize i-cut software for non-linear distortion correction, an intuitive user interface, and full prepress and RIP integration. The software allows print service providers (PSPs) to produce flat and dimensional point of purchase, flexible vinyl, adhesives, in-store displays, outdoor advertising, fleet and vehicle graphics, decal and labels, and more. To avoid distortion, i-cut offers five different correction algorithms. Position, which ensures the size, shape, and relative position of the curves stay intact. Register curve, each element is registered individually from all other objects in the file. Register layer, each layer is processed individually from all other layers in the file. Linear compensation, where the size, shape, offset, and rotation of objects are altered linearly. Non-linear composition, the highest rate of accuracy available, providing the closest match possible to cut path and printed graphic.
GCC’s GreatCut is designed for all GCC cutters, but works particularly well with the Jaguar IV and Puma III. With the user-friendly interface, users can add registration marks and cut images with ease. For example, the Plot Manager defines which devices are used, how local and network connections are configured, which PC runs as plot server, which job is active or passive, calculates and summarizes the movements, and configures how often jobs are repeated. Users can move, scale, rotate, duplicate, and clone objects with a simple click of a button.
Gerber Scientific Products, Inc.’s OMEGA design and output software is a complete suite of layout, design, output, and conversion tools created specifically for use in the sign industry. OMEGA design and output tools are fine-tuned to accommodate vinyl cutting, printing, and routing on production devices such as Gerber vinyl cutters, the Gerber EDGE family of thermal printers, as well as Gerber routers and flatbed cutters. OMEGA CP includes all the tools to create and output cut vinyl and router jobs, plus has color assignment and output capabilities for all GERBER EDGE series and GERBER MAXX 2 thermal transfer printers. It includes ARTPath routing and engraving software.
Mimaki USA, Inc.’s FineCut 7 software is an easy to use but powerful tool that creates cut lines for graphic illustrations. It works as an Adobe Illustrator CS3 or Corel DRAW plug-in. The cut line and cut mode can be adjusted and selected to command the contour cutting device—either the CG or CF series Mimaki cutters—to the type of cut. Functions like half-cut are used for creating stickers held in place by a backing sheet by small connecting points, to be later punched out and used.
The Océ Streamlined Workflow from Océ North America ties file preparation, printing, and finishing together. The Océ ProCut Prepress client/server software offered with each Océ ProCut system easily assigns cutting tools to vector line work. Capable of accepting Postscript file formats including PDF, the software visually identifies all paths within the artwork and freely assigns them to cutting layers. The software also is able to nest and rotate the cut shapes when needed to utilize as much of the media as possible. Users can add optical registration marks and barcodes, nesting multiple jobs and managing those jobs in a job queue.
Roland DGA Corporation’s VersaWorks supports the company’s printer/cutters and standalone cutting systems. Users can manage up to four devices with the VersaWorks system. The software manages contour cutting and a new PerfCut function enables users to produce precision perforated cut lines as well. Advanced layout features allow the user to manually or automatically tile jobs that exceed the media width or that need to be cut into smaller sizes.
Summa, Inc.’s ColorControl is a high-speed RIP software that offers a dual-cut feature, which allows users to contour cut labels, and then die-cut them in the same or other shapes. Custom label making is now a one-step process. CoCut X4 is a cutting plug-in for CorelDRAW, Adobe Illustrator, and FreeHand that allows users to design in the desktop publishing solution; then click a CoCut icon to cut. CoCut X4 plots to over 100 cutter models.
Techno Inc.’s Enroute software is able in several versions, based on 2D and 3D cutting. Enroute Basic is designed for 2D cutting only. It features drawing tools to draw geometric shapes and text with a complete selection of editing tools. In addition, Enroute Basic features 2D cutting tools such as contouring, pocketing, drilling, and 2D engraving. Enroute Plus includes all the 2D tools from basic, plus 3D engraving and true shape nesting. Enroute nesting ability provides the best material yield by automatically manipulating and rotating the desired cut images to best fit on a defined sheet of material. Enroute Pro includes all of the Enroute Basic and Plus functions, plus Pro features including full 3D carving, parametric texturing, and the ability to 3D engrave on a curve.
Universal Laser Systems, Inc.’s (ULS) Laser Interface+ is a print driver used exclusively with ULS’ laser systems. The driver allows users to select the material, type in the thickness, and simply hit print.
Print-to-Cut workflow software entitled Prepare It from Zünd America, Inc. increases productivity by automating manual tasks and optimizing print media. Files dragged into hot folders automatically show up in the Prepare It job queue and in seconds Postscript data is ready for both printing and cutting. Prepare It automatically extracts any curve information from the Postscript data and converts it perfect cutting curves ready on the network once requested by the digital die cutting system.
Read more about digital finishing in the January issue of Digital Output. Vendors share important characteristics and one end user discusses the importance of versatility and ease-of-use when shopping for the appropriate finishing device.