With improvements in speed, quality, and equipment price, many print service providers (PSPs) make the leap into large format flatbed digital printing. They now print larger projects, multi-up jobs, on rigid substrates.
Vinyl cutting for vehicle wraps, windows, floors, and more is a popular order for PSPs as well. “People are moving to more contoured and three-dimensional shapes for signs, exhibits, and trade shows,” notes Bill Hartman, VP marketing, EskoArtwork.
Digital finishing equipment is essential to cut vinyl, to dice multi-up prints from a flatbed, and rout or engrave shapes. While finishing steps can often be accomplished using handwork and tools, digital capabilities enhance productivity.
Digital finishing devices range from manual to automated; desktop to grand scale. Prices begin in the lower thousands and extend into the hundreds of thousands, based on size, robustness, and capabilities. Here, we look at the top manufacturers of routers, cutters, and engravers.
CET Color’s X-Press CNC 510 trims rigid substrates up to six inches thick. The device handles media at a maximum width of 60x120 inches. It cuts and routs using a tangential knife at ten inches per second. It is compatible with i-cut and n-route software. Two heads used for printing and cutting makes the device unique. The X-Press CNC 510’s base MSRP is $45,000.
Available from EskoArtwork, the Kongsberg i-XE10 cutting system is used for knife, creasing, and scoring applications for narrow format rolls and sheets up to 31 inches wide and a quarter-inch thick. It features a production speed of 80 meters per minute (m/min) and uses through-, kiss-, and oscillate-cut knives as well as creasing and scoring tools. The device is powered by i-cut Suite vision registration and workflow integration system to ensure automated and perfect registration between the print and cut. It features a high-speed auto feeder and automatic stacker for complete on- and off-load automation. A printed barcode prompts the Kongsberg i-XE10 table to call up the correct cut file for variable contour images, making it an ideal tool for automated Web-to-print applications. The cutting system starts at $80,000, based on selected size and options.
The Kongsberg i-XL finishing system from EskoArtwork is designed to finish flexible, semi-rigid, or rigid materials. It uses through-cut, kiss-cut, angle-cut, oscillate-cut, foam and corrugated knives, as well as creasing and scoring tools and routing for rigid materials. The device handles media up to 87 inches wide and one-inch thick, and it is rated at production speed of 50 m/min. It is powered by i-cut Suite vision registration and workflow integration system. The suggested retail price starts at $115,000 based on size and options.
The Kongsberg i-XP is geared for high-volume production finishing needs for companies with high-speed UV flatbed printers and 24/7 production. It handles media up to 87 inches wide and two inches thick at speeds up to 100 m/min. The Kongsberg i-XP uses through-, kiss-, angle-, and oscillate-cut knives; as well as foam and corrugated knives; creasing and scoring tools; and routing for rigid materials. It is also compatible with the i-cut Suite vision registration and workflow integration system. Its retail price starts at $160,000.
GCC offers its Sable, Expert 24, Jaguar series, and Puma series cutters, used in applications such as personalized rhinestone, window tinting, vinyl cutting, and signage. The Jaguar series cutters range in price from $2,250 to $5,550. They cut up to 0.03-inch thick roll material with maximum widths ranging from 24 to 72 inches. Its maximum diagonal speed is 60 inches per second (in/sec). The Jaguar series features tangential mode, OverCut, and guaranteed ten-meter tracking. The special OverCut function—available on Jaguar IV and Puma III series—is designed to ease the weeding process while working with thick materials.
GCC’s Rhinestone System is a new apparel application for GCC Jaguar IV and Puma III cutting plotters. It includes SmartCut 2.0 rhinestone software and Stone Stencils Volume 1 graphics library for creating rhinestone apparel.
GCC laser engravers include the LaserPro Gaia II, and the SmartCut X380 and X500. They engrave anodized metal, stone, tile, wood, and acrylic for signage, stamp-making, 3D-engraving, textiles, and apparel. LaserPro engravers feature a pass-through design where front and rear doors open to accommodate oversized objects. AutoFocus studies the material with the push of a button, Drag and Engrave pinpoints the desired engraving position, and SmartCENTER locates the center of any irregularly shaped object.
Gerber Scientific Products, Inc. offers digital finishing products that satisfy a number of applications, including cutting, routing, and engraving for work with foam board, vinyl, wood, canvas, styrene, glass, paper, and metal. The Gerber M Series flatbed cutters are a powerful solution for automatic print-to-cut finishing, routing inkjet-printed rigid substrates, kiss-cutting decals, and contour cutting and creasing other graphics. The M Turbo flatbed cutting table—MSRP $124,995—routs acrylic and wood up to three quarters of an inch, as well as cuts and creases. It has a maximum cutting speed of 30 in/s, and its standard modular tools include an oscillating knife, pneumatic router, precision drag knife, and creasing wheel. The M Turbo features the M-Vision optical registration system, an active cut area of 75x120 inches, and light-beam security for safety and unobstructed access.
Gerber also offers the Sabre series and Dimension 200 routers. For vinyl cutting, the Tempo cutter and GS Plus plotters are available.
Graphtec America, Inc.’s FC2250 series flatbed cutting plotter is designed for large-scale, heavy-duty cutting and creasing solutions, including traffic signs; packaging prototyping; apparel; stone, wood, and glass sandblast resist; electronics prototyping; and decals. It is available in three table sizes—36x24, 47, or 68.5 inches—at a retail price between $16,500 and $26,000. Notable features include the ability to hold two tools simultaneously, such as a blade, creasing tool, or pen, as well as Graphtec’s Automatic Registration Mark Sensor System for contour cutting. It handles a maximum substrate thickness of 70-mil, with speeds up to 16 in/s. It uses super-steel, high-intensity reflective, small-character, thick-material blades for cutting.
Mimaki USA, Inc. offers its CG-FX II and CG-SR II Series roll-to-roll contour cutters in sizes up to 64 inches wide for contour cutting vinyl up to 0.15 millimeters thick. The CG-FX II and CG-SR II’s tools include a cutter; water- and oil-based ballpoint pen; pouncing tool; and knives for reflective sheets, vinyl, fluorescent vinyl, paper, and small characters. The devices come with the Fine Cut 7 plug in for Adobe Creative Suite and CorelDraw. Unique features include continuous crop mark detection and the half-cut mechanism, a proprietary Mimaki technology where the backing sheet is cut, leaving half-cut connecting points that are easily detached when necessary. The CG-160FX II’s suggested retail price is $8,595.
MultiCam, Inc.’s Digital Express is a heavy-duty CNC cutting system used to cut substrates from foam core to rigid acrylic and composite wood panels up to 80 inches wide and two inches thick. The system comes standard with a vision registration system to adjust for print skew and drift. Highlights include automatic tool and knife changing features. It utilizes multiple knives and high-speed routers to cut, including oscillating, drag, kiss-cut, crease, 45-degree bevel, and ultrasonic. With the MultiCam EZ Knife cartridge system, up to three independent tangential knife receivers can be configured on the MultiCam Digital Express. The open architecture device works with any CAD/CAM software; including Scanvec Enroute. Based on configuration, the MSRP ranges from $80,000 to $120,000.
This is the first half of our roundup on digital finishing devices. The next part features the latter half of the alphabet, with Mutoh America, Inc. to Zünd America, Inc. Visit www.DOdirect.net for more information on any of the products mentioned in this article.