By Cassandra Balentine
Part 2 of 2
Print service providers (PSPs) offering wide format output rely on cutting technology to finish a variety of output. Similar to the flatbed routers/cutters discussed in part one of this series, roll-based plotters/cutters must provide versatility as many end users rely on one device to finish a myriad of applications.
“The major market for a cutting plotter is the sign maker satisfying a range of applications,” says Keira Lee, marketing executive, GCC. “Productivity is another critical concern as cost control always matters to a business. Therefore, the high accuracy of repeatability and maximum cutting speed—which can guarantee the quality of work and enhance the efficiency—are critical functions to be improved.”
Below we highlight some available roll plotters/cutters.
GCC provides a series of products that meet the needs of many market segments. From entry-level solutions to high-end models, its Jaguar IV series includes the J4-61, J4-101S, JF-132S, and J4-183S.
In partnership with Crest Dutch Machinery of the Netherlands, MCT is the exclusive North America distributor for the Crest RSC series automatic XY roll to sheet cutting systems. The Crest RSC CI series handles normal paper, thin plastics, and vinyl materials, with cold knife cutting, and fabric cutting with true hot knife and cross hot wire cutting abilities.
“Properly called auto XY Cutters, the Crest RSC CI only cuts straight lines for squares or rectangles but at a speed of up to five times faster than our flatbed cutters,” says Nikolai Mikkelsen, president, MCT.
The Crest RSC CI can be operated in a manual or fully-automatic cutting mode where cut marks are printed and optically read to let the cutter know when and where to cut. Additionally, the Crest RSC CI series can do roll-to-roll processing, such as slitting, larger width rolls into smaller width rolls and rewind them accurately.
The Crest RSC CI series are available in 1.6-, 2.5-, and 3.2-meter widths at this time.
Mutoh America, Inc.
Mutoh offers the ValueCut cutting plotters, which are available in three sizes—24-,52-, and 75-inch cut widths. They come standard with a roll support system for easy handling and accurate tracking. Additionally, they offer integrated, laser-based optical sensors that provide intuitive job recognition and alignment of contour and cut through data, which also offers multi-segment registration capability for accurate long run cut jobs. Each model also comes standard with a two year warranty.
Roland DGA Corp.
Roland’s most popular cutter is the GX-24, a 24-inch desktop vinyl cutter. “The popularity of heat transfer material for creating custom apparel has made the GX-24 one of the most popular recognized vinyl cutters in the apparel industry,” says Daniel Valade, product manager, Roland. He says those looking for a wide format solution can expect the GX-Pro series to accommodate roll or sheet vinyl from two inches all the way up to 72 inches, and can be used to cut a variety of substrates ranging from CAD cut vinyl and heat transfer material to flock, twill, sandblast, and reflective materials.
“Manufacturers are always adding more down force, as well as trying to improve overall cut quality and accuracy with hardware updates. When it comes to wide format roll cutting equipment, the biggest advancement for Roland has been the ability of our GX series cutters to read crop marks on pre-printed data,” says Valade. “For shops that have stand alone printers, Roland’s Quadralign Optical Registration system allows users to print their data, remove the output from their printer, and load it into a cutter that automatically reads and aligns the graphic for perfect contour cutting.”
This allows businesses to keep more work in house, rather than outsourcing and losing margin.
On the Horizon
As digitally printed wide format output continues to evolve, so too does the equipment designed to support it. We can expect continued improvements in speed and accuracy when it comes to cutting, but additional trends also influence the latest advancements.
Textiles are one area gaining a lot of attention. MCT’s Mikkelsen says with the growth of fabric imaging, hot knife cutting or edge heat sealing has become critical for polyester fabric applications where there is concern of unraveling edges. “PSPs are demanding equipment that can cut a wider range of materials, cutting thicker materials as well as the very hard to cut, stretchy polyester fabrics.”
Another area growing in popularity is the packaging and prototype industry. “We anticipate a continued increase in demand for the high-quality output required for making packaging comps and other applications,” says Roland’s Valade.
Advancements tailored to fabric and packaging are on the horizon, as well as the continued move for faster, better, and less-expensive products that produce high-quality results.
Oct2014, Digital Output DOCR1410