Vinyl Cutting Solutions
Crossing the Finish Line
by Gretchen A. Peck
Part 4 of a 4-part Series
Cutting and print-to-cut solutions enable sign shops to meet customers’ demanding turnaround expectations for vinyl, and other, jobs.
"There are some really cool things going on with vinyl," suggests Laura Wilson, product manager, inkjet solutions, Roland DGA Corporation. "Reflective materials have obviously been around for quite some time, but there are other specialty films—that were once sold as cut films—that have been introduced to the roll-fed digital market."
Indeed, vinyl still accounts for a majority of substrates being used by sign shops and other types of large format print suppliers. It remains a stable, capable option for a wide range of applications—everything from floor graphics to banners, from vehicle graphics to window treatments.
Besides being a durable, cost-effective substrate solution for many large format print installations, vinyl is versatile; it can be finished in any number of ways. Protective coatings are helpful when the job requires extended longevity.
And printers can get creative with finishing when they complement their existing digital print equipment with slick vinyl cutting tools.
For example, icut by MGE enables heavy-duty volume production cutting for print substrates of up to 4x8 feet. The solution features automatic surface mapping, and enables kiss cutting, routing, and creasing.
Contech manufacturers the DigiCutter, which features optical sensors that read register marks. The solution butt cuts, gap cuts, and trims the edges of printed media.
"GCC has been manufacturing cutting plotters since 1995," recalls Jeff Lee, sales and marketing director, GCC America. "Our Jaguar-series equipment is designed for professional and advanced applications, as it uses DC servo control, which allows high cutting speeds of up to 60 inches per second and a cutting force that’s the highest among the competitors."
Gerber Scientific manufacturers Gerber P2C Plotters, capable of cutting vinyl at a speedy 55.5 inches per second.
Graphics One offers an entry-level cutting system—the GO SignCutter—in two configurations, 24 and 48 inches wide. It’s capable of cutting up to 31 inches per second and comes bundled with GO SignCut, a user-friendly software application.
Graphtec America developed four models of its FC7000 Series High-Performance Roll-Feed Cutting Plotters, capable of handling media of up to 36, 48, 60, and 72 inches wide, respectively. They feature an Automatic Registration Mark Sensor and Dual-Axis Correction, which adjusts the cut line to compensate for minor print distortions, according to the manufacturer. Users can choose from several types of cutting blades, plotting pens, and pouncing tools, depending on the job’s requirements. FC7000 Series cutting plotters may be configured to be front or rear loading, and an optional media basket may be added to protect the media, as well as cut down on static when cutting vinyl and other films.
"We have a vinyl knife attachment that will work with any of our machines—the 1000, 3000, and 5000 series—in any table size," notes John Harris, director of sales and marketing, MultiCam. "It is a very inexpensive accessory, $650, and does an excellent job cutting vinyl."
Mutoh America bills its Ultima Series Cutting Plotters as the perfect complements to any print engines capable of printing to adhesive-back vinyls. Available in two versions—a 33-inch and 55-inch model—the solution enables printers to cut, plot designs on paper, and punch media. It also manages contour cuts for pre-printed signage and other vinyl adhesive products.
Neschen Americas developed the SEAL AccuCut Table Mount System, which is adept at cutting and trimming a variety of substrates up to 3/8" thick—vinyl, paper, cardboard, polyester, and other materials. It’s available in either a 60- or 100-inch configuration.
The SummaCut family of vinyl cutters remains Summa Digital Imaging Technology’s most popular line. The solutions have integrated media rollers and roll-end flanges that enable users to load vinyl straight—and keep it that way, even when cutting at top speed.
Zünd America takes a modular approach with its cutting solutions. Customers can choose from 16 sizes—31x31 to 126x188 inches—and a wealth of media-handling and tool options, including those that enable kiss-cutting, creasing, and routing. The cutting system may also be complemented by material transport and feeder options, including a sheet feeder and automatic winder.
Vinyl-based substrates are the perfect match to print-and-cut solutions from manufacturers like Mimaki USA and Roland DGA.
Mimaki has an entire line of cutting plotters, which includes the Mimaki CG-160FX. Equipped with a photoelectric eye sensor, Mimaki says it’s capable of fully automating even the most complicated contour cuts.
Roland DGA developed integrated models within the SOLJET and VersaCAMM families of digital print engines. Roland’s VersaCAMM VP-300 and VP-540 use quick-drying ECO-SOL MAX ink (CMYK), and offer up to 1,440 dpi resolution. Chameleon-like, the new VersaCAMM VP models can be used as a printer only, as a printer/cutter, or as a standalone vinyl cutter.
"We’re very proud of the fact that we’re one of the few equipment suppliers to have full line of media options, as well," Laura Wilson says of Roland. It gives our users a pre-packaged solution. They purchase the printer, which comes bundled with RIP software. And within that RIP software, there are dozens of ICC color profiles for each print mode and each type of substrate."
Wilson says that Roland has sourced products from across the globe to find the best possible substrates for its customers, including at least a dozen different types of vinyl. "We have a tremendous range of adhesive-back vinyl, because we recognize that not one product suits every need. Customers need multiple finishes, multiple adhesive types, and multiple levels of quality."
"I have noticed that there are some alternatives or substitutions for vinyl coming to the market. They may be a little more green, or a little less expensive, but typically they don’t meet the needs of most signmakers, simply because of the flexibility and conformability factor," she cautions.
Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, Vinyl, Vinyl Everywhere
Click here to read Part 2 of this exclusive online series, Vinyl Media
Click here to read Part 3 of this exclusive online series, Printing to Vinyl
May2007, Digital Output