By Olivia Cahoon
Part 1 of 2
Many print shops favor semi-automated cutting devices. Depending on the size of a business, volume of work, and job type, it may make more sense to use a semi-automated cutter versus a fully automated device. These solutions are available in vertical and horizontal orientations, with a number of blade types.
A variety of environments are suitable for a semi-automated cutting device. Users include manufacturers and print service providers.
In fact, Jim McNickle, marketing director, Fletcher-Terry Company, believes all shop sizes are suitable. “All shops looking to increase its facility capability in the area of double mitre saw cutting for market expansion opportunities are a fit,” he offers.
Most semi-automated cutting devices are used in manufacturing environments as part of a process to enhance productivity, efficiency, and overall production quality. Mike Osman, president, CWT Work Tools USA, says this allows companies to offer more solutions to current and potential client bases, and take on longer or more complex projects that previously may have been too much to handle.
“This equipment replaces somewhat outdated hand produced techniques that were up to this point, either very time consuming or impossible for a person to produce the quality of cut or meet the demands of the industry,” he adds. Additionally, Osman says these devices are now more affordable and are a necessity in any shop environment that requires versatile tools.
Semi-automated cutting devices are available in vertical and horizontal orientations. According to Osman, both orientations essentially function the same. However, there are some key factors to consider when deciding which is best for production workflow.
This includes how much volume or capacity the production facility is attempting to achieve. “A vertical layout has a larger area or surface to layout rigid substrates and works best when adding automatic loading and unloading add-on devices,” explains Osman.
Vertical devices also allow operators to cut roll materials 63 inches or less. “It’s even better if the device has a conveyor belt transport type system,” he adds.
Devices with a horizontal configuration can also perform the same functions as a vertical device, but it normally has less area to layout multiple pieces. According to Osman, this configuration typically comes with a conveyor belt and is designed to cut larger roll material more efficiently. “If your process demands larger or dual roll cutting, then this is a better setup solution.”
A variety of blades are available for semi-automated cutting devices such as knife blades, scoring tips, scoring wheels, cutting wheels, and saw blades.
Knife blades are available in a variety of configurations such as drag knives or tangential knife technology. “They are used for cutting flexible and semi-rigid materials,” says McNickle. Drag knives are typically used for cutting designs for rigid substrates such as billboards, light boxes, and window graphics.
According to Osman, most drag knife blades are basically the same with little difference—some double edged and others long. Double-edged blades have blades on both ends for more use. “Some are very thick and heavy duty while others are thinner and have a sharper angle, more detailed cutting, and designed to avoid over cuts.”
Scoring tips, which McNickle says are for scoring and breaking acrylic materials, are available inline and offline. These are typically used prior to folding heavy weight papers like covers, card stock, and cardboard.
Scoring wheels are durable, sharp, and precise cutting wheels. McNickle says these are used for scoring and breaking glass or wall tile. Additionally, cutting wheels offer the ability to cut aluminum sheets, ACM, and MDF materials.
Saw blades are designed for accurate cuts, reliable performance, and extended cutting life. According to McNickle, saw blades cut wood moulding, metal frames, and engineered plastics such as acrylics, foamboard, and phenolic.
There are also blades designed for oscillating, which tend to be much longer to get through thicker, sometimes softer type material like felt, says Osman. Small blades are designed for kiss cutting and detailed work. “With so many options to choose, it is imperative to have a blade and bit guide to assist the operator in choosing the correct blade of the desired result as well as what to keep in stock,” he offers.
Semi-automated cutting devices can change the way a company moves forward towards future growth and goals. “A well trained staff and a good understanding of these systems within a current or new workflow can really launch the company into success much quicker,” says Osman.
The second part of this two-part series provides a selection of semi-automated cutting products.
Oct2018, Digital Output