By Cassandra Balentine
There are multiple forms of a print and cut workflow. It could entail an integrated printer and cutter or two separate devices—a printer and cutter.
Above: Roland offers advanced, high-quality printers and vinyl cutters that can be used together in a print and cut workflow to create applications such as vehicle wraps.
For many projects that require printing and cutting, such as decals, stickers, and labels, an integrated printer or print and cut solution will get the job done. However, there are some instances where two standalone devices may have the advantage. Many factors come into play when it’s time to determine which method is best.
For a print service provider (PSP) with enough workspace to accommodate an independent printer and cutter and the budget to purchase the two devices, this type of workflow can offer some real advantages. The primary benefit is that it enables the shop to operate both machines simultaneously. “The PSP can run the cutting device while the printer is outputting the next job, allowing for increased efficiency and productivity,” says Daniel Valade, product manager, digital print, Roland DGA Corporation.
“Employing separate printing and cutting devices typically requires a larger work area and a greater investment than a single integrated print/cut machine. Additionally, the types of jobs the PSP focuses on are a deciding factor. For some operations, it may be more important to have the option of running both devices at the same time. For others, such as those that require unattended printing capabilities, the combined printing and contour cutting functionality of an integrated printer/cutter may make more sense,” suggests Valade.
Matt McCausland, product manager, professional imaging, Epson, believes productivity is the biggest advantage for standalone printer and cutter pairings. “Standalone printers are not only faster in terms of print speed, they are also not limited by the need to cut. When cutting, you can’t print and when printing, you can’t cut. There is a definite ceiling customers hit with an all-in-one machine.”
“If space is truly limited for a PSP then a printer/cutter might be the proper avenue,” offers Ryan Arakaki, corporate marketing manager, Mutoh America, Inc. “The downside is, your equipment is virtually pulling double duty so to speak, which can really be a productivity killer. Your printer will have to spend half the time cutting, which means you won’t be printing. Also, if there is a malfunction or it breaks down, that could throw a wrench in your production schedule. If the PSP does have space available, having a separate cutter and printer is the better route, due to ease of use, productivity, and reliability.”
McCausland weighs in; adding that the only time a printer/cutter all-in-one machine makes sense is when there are physical space limitations. “If that is not a factor for customers, a separate printer and cutter is always the way to go.”
Space and budget aren’t the only deciding factors, however. “The specific application should also be taken into consideration when choosing between a print and cut or a print/cut solution. For example, if the operation specializes in vehicle graphics/wraps, purchasing independent printing and cutting devices may be the best choice. On the other hand, a PSP that primarily prints decals, stickers, posters, and signs may be better served by an integrated printer/cutter,” shares Valade.
Luckily PSPs can choose from a wide selection of printing and cutting options to enable the best solution and production workflow for their specific business needs.
When considering printer and cutter combinations, some vendors offer both devices while others partner to ensure seamless operation.
Epson recently introduced three new signage solutions—the SureColor S40600 Print Cut Edition, SureColor S60600 Print Cut Edition, and SureColor S80600 Print Cut Edition. The SureColor S-Series Print Cut models include a FC8600-130 cutter from Graphtec America to provide an end-to-end solution for printing and cutting that delivers accuracy and high image quality. In addition, the SureColor S40600 and SureColor S60600 ONYX GamaPrint bundles now include Onyx Graphics, Inc.’s ONYX CUT-Server in the ONYX PosterShop RIP, allowing for a seamless workflow. For customers looking for the ultimate in image quality and workflow, ONYX Thrive is included in the SureColor S80600 Print Cut Edition.
“Especially with Epson’s SureColor S-Series Print Cut Editions, you can now get a separate, more productive printer and cutter for a comparable price to an all-in-one machine,” says McCausland.
Similarly, HP Inc. and Summa America partner to offer a print and cut solution featuring the HP Designjet L26500 printer and the Summa S160 cutter.
McCausland feels that it is imperative that vendors of complementary products in the wide format space work closely together to maximize the value they provide to customers. “This is especially true regarding printers and cutters in the signage market, as they are often used together as part of a larger workflow. Epson, as a printer manufacturer, is part of the workflow process, so customers place great importance on hardware that works seamlessly with the other pieces of the overall solution,” he shares.
“It’s important for printer and cutter manufacturers to have strong partnerships to benefit the PSP’s overall experience using the equipment,” adds Arakaki. “Nobody likes to spend hours figuring out how their equipment interfaces with each other and setting it up. I think it’s great when manufacturers have a relationship to make sure the overall workflow is optimized for ease of use for their end users, that way its keeps their customers happy and productivity high.”
While Mutoh’s printers do interface with many popular cutters and RIP software solutions, Arakaki says the company offers both printers and cutters that the customer can be confident will work seamlessly with one another.
Roland offers advanced, high-quality printers and vinyl cutters that can be used together in a print and cut workflow. For instance, a Roland VersaEXPRESS RF-640 wide format printer can be paired with its CAMM-1 GR-640 large format cutter to form a highly efficient, productive, and reliable combination. The company also offers a portfolio of integrated printer/cutters.
Making the Grade
The reputation and services offered by equipment vendors is a critical element in any purchasing decision. If you’re in the market for a printer and a cutter, there are two vendor reputations that need to be taken into account. It is also important there there be a good working relationship between the cutter and printer vendors.
McCausland says communication is essential, both in the short and long term. “It’s important to understand the features/benefits of complementary products that are currently on the market, as well as what the future product roadmap looks like, so we can ensure future products have some synergy,” he adds.
Arakaki agrees. “Technology is always changing and when either company updates software and firmware or releases new products, the manufacturers really need to be in top communication to make sure updates are carried out seamlessly to ensure there are no interruptions to a PSP’s workflow.”
There are advantages to operating a print and cut workflow as opposed to integrated printer/cutter solutions. While either set up will get the job done, separate devices enable productivity as both machines can run simultaneously. A variety of considerations determine which solution is best for a particular print environment including footprint and budget.
Sep2019, Digital Output