By Cassandra Balentine
Part 1 of 2
Integrated wide format print-and-cut devices are available to easily produce applications like labels, stickers, and decals. With both mechanisms on one device, print service providers (PSPs) expand into new markets with a minimal investment in equipment and training. Standalone printers and cutters are also available for near line production of these applications.
Benefits of Print & Cut
By combining cutting techniques inline or near line with digital print technologies, PSPs add new services and revenue streams with a low initial investment cost, high-quality output, and versatility.
Barry Budwit, VP/GM, Summa America, points out that labels and stickers are a quick and easy way to promote business. “These jobs are normally short run and on demand, which are interesting for PSPs to attract other revenue streams,” he adds.
Jay Roberts, product manager, UV printers, Roland DGA Corporation, recommends adding label, decal, and sticker printing services to current product offerings to expand business opportunities. “Integrating an advanced UV or eco-solvent wide format printer/cutter to a shop’s existing workflow allows the operation to attract new customers, take on different types of label, decal, sticker printing jobs; and increase profits,” he shares. In addition, the ability to accept short-run label, decal, and sticker printing jobs allows the PSP to keep its machines running between larger projects to maximize overall revenue.
Matt Gusse, VP, sales and marketing, Advanced Color Solutions, believes the expansion of in-house capabilities is always beneficial to a PSP. “If you’re outsourcing, bringing the technology in will not only cut down on production time, but increase margins while creating additional revenue centers,” he offers.
Gusse also sees benefits to printing on one machine and cutting on a separate unit if production calls for heavy output, high-speed cutting, laminating, or other possible factors. “I think having a printer/cutter is great with the ability to add a cut-only machine when needed. This gives most owners the most versatility, lowest investment, less space needed—all without sacrificing quality or profit.”
Special effects like white, primer, and clear inks are available on some wide format printer/cutters.
Incorporating effects like white and clear inks help create a range of eye-catching dimensional and textural effects, ranging from gloss and matte finishes to custom textures and simulated embossing. Roberts points out that these effects significantly enhance the “wow” factor of product labels as well as decals and stickers by helping create graphics that really pop and catch the viewer’s eye.
Gusse believes that most PSPs do not already offer these options, so those that do generate a premium. “Sometimes as high as three to five times more for the ability to print white or clear,” he offers. “As you get into UV printing of decals, even more options become available, like creating unique raised effects and layering.
He cautions that while special effects are eye catching, white and clear almost always slow down production printing speeds and add variables into maintenance.
Both print and cut capabilities must be considered when investing in hardware for creating labels, decals, and sticker applications that require both functions equally.
“It’s extremely important for the printer/cutter to handle different cutting techniques and a variety of applications,” says Roberts. For example the Roland VersaUV LEC series UV printer/cutters can contour cut through the top layer of lined media or create a perforated cut on non-lined media like card stock. “If you can switch out the cutting tool, the Roland VersaUV LEC also creases media for easy, accurate folding. It can even hold a pen tool, which allows pre-cut testing for accuracy and concept-of-proof cutting needs,” he adds.
Budwit adds that Summa provides a true tangential cutting head, enabling users to cut materials quickly and concisely up to 47 mils thick. “A true tangential cutting head features a motor controlling the direction of the blade at all times, enabling cutting of thick and hard substrates with unsurpassed high detail and quality,” he explains.
Print-and-cut devices’ software solutions are essential for ease of use, quality, and productivity.
Many RIPs are available to drive printers, which allow for page set and sizing, color management, and other job management and design features. “How good a RIP is depends upon its ease of use and how it interacts with the printer/cutter device,” shares Roberts.
Roland VersaWorks RIP software is included with all of Roland’s printers and printer/cutters. In addition to simplifying both printing and cutting, the software helps maximize speed and production within the RIP. VersaWorks RIP software saves valuable production time for users of Roland’s print/cut devices by streamlining workflow and optimizing the order in which items are cut.
Gusse says most of his experience is with Roland and the VersaWorks “in the box” RIP program. “It makes it easy to point and click within the software to generate the workflow that’s right for you. Regardless if you’re just printing and cutting or printing, laminating, and cutting, the software is crucial for consistent output and ease of handling,” points out Gusse.
Budwit points out that software is designed to automate processes as much as possible. “For example, the barcode function unique to Summa offers the ability to read barcodes with the onboard sensor. This way, an entire roll of differently printed jobs can be processed by the cutter. The barcode automatically communicates with the software to retrieve the necessary cut data and initiate the cutting. After finishing the job, the cutter automatically searches for the next barcode and repeats the process. This allows for an entire roll of printed graphics to be cut without user intervention.”
Print and cut and standalone printers and cutters are considered a fairly easy technology to master, requiring limited training time.
Printers and cutters are easy to use—even for beginners. “Learning how to use the RIP for our print/cut devices is just as easy,” assures Roberts. In addition, Roland offers training directly from its authorized dealers and hundreds of informative videos, webinars, and how-to documents at its website.
Gusse says the learning curve is minimal for a print provider new to creating applications like labels, stickers, and decals on a printer/cutter. “We are in and out the same day 99 percent of the time with owners/operators being more than confident. Several hundred print/cut machines are in the field with new users every week,” he shares.
Budwit adds that while it’s important to know how the machine works, overall it is user friendly. “Each of Summa’s finishing systems contain a lot of internal intelligence and ultimately user friendliness, which makes them accessible—even if you’re not that experienced.”
Printing and Cutting
Applications like stickers, decals, and labels benefit from the on demand nature of digital printing and related cutting. Many integrated printer/cutters as well as standalone cutters that complement printers are on the market to handle these applications quickly and easily.
The second part of this series highlights select printer/cutters and cutter/plotters on the market.
Apr2019, Digital Output