10 February 2020 Finishing

The flourishing of digital cutting

For those who are willing do their homework, Intec, IGS, Vivid, Horizon, Morgana and now Duplo have options for short run digital finishing.

For those many printers that cannot justify the investment in a Highcon, there are numerous small cutting tables that are able to crease and cut, not at volume but in the small quantities needed for samples, for photoshoots, for consumer testing and for start up businesses.

These are the baby offspring of the cutting tables used in display printing from the likes of Esko, Summa or Zund. But these come from a different batch of manufacturers, many based in China. The chassis and mechanism, moving gantry and tool head that can include cutting knives, creasing blades and conveyor to take the sheet into position, its registration monitored by camera and print marks.

The first cutting tables were hand loaded and therefore needed to be looked after, or could only be used for a few sheets at a time. Polar Mohr developed a static laser cutting table on this principle and showed a version with pick and place robot and moving conveyor at the last Drupa. Like similar machines from LasX, SEI and others, this has yet to catch on. Laser cutting has had a bad rap and is still a technology looking for a mainstream market.

Plockmatic’s Morgana division sells the Valiani cutting table for small batch production, able to produce presentation boxes as well as mock ups of cartons. The company sells a version with an 815 x 610mm working area, larger than many of the more automated cutters that focus only on sheets from a B3 sheet.

Stepping into this sector, the printer can pick from the JWEI Titanium 0604. The Chinese manufacturer has benefited from on site guidance from European managers, so is a machine that is just as slick and up to date as machines that might be made in Europe or Japan. The UK distributor IGS has been fielding inquiries since announcing the machine towards the end of last year. The first to reach the UK was shown at a Heidelberg open house where the focus was on the place for digital printing at Heidelberg customers.

At around the same time, Vivid Laminating introduced the Veloblade at the Print Show. This is a natural partner to its laminating and spot foiling machine as an obvious application is in short run cartons, perhaps boxes for wedding favours with silver foil and lamination. The company has been swamped with inquiries and is responding with announcement of a larger version, perhaps capable of partnering with B2 digital presses that are already on the market or are due to arrive this year.

Intec has also improved its first cutting table, launched at Fespa in Munich last spring. The upgraded version includes a new feeder enabling the machine to run unattended. The Colorcut FB800 was designed in Poole with version 2 drawing on the experience with the first model.

Four pick up fingers improve media handling with an air separation blade, expanding the material it can handle, up to 600gsm. It will also kiss cut sheets of labels at the other extreme. One has been installed in Canon’s showroom, near Birmingham, and as sales director Kerry Button says, “This is 40% faster than the previous model”.

The onboard camera picks up a QR code which is used to download the cutting template. It ensures that the sheet is not fed in the wrong direction.

Duplo is on course to introduce the PFI Blade at Packaging Innovations at the NEC. Product manager Andy Cuff says: “We’ve seen an ongoing trend of our customers either asking about or moving into the short run packaging market. With the advent of many flexible inkjet presses and a lot of new technologies in the finishing market, now is the right time to head into it.” It partners with the DuSense and the new Digifoil version to create what Cuff calls an “unbeatable workflow”. It will be able to use three tools in the same pass, cutting, creasing and perforation on material to 1.3mm thick.

All are limited in terms of throughput. For commercial printers needing this functionality for longer runs, there is the rotary die cutter. Morgana offers its RDC at the entry level, with Horizon and Blumer also active.

IFS director Jason Seaber points out that while dies can be costly, they will last for a long time. Most swing tags or cartons retain their dimensions, changing artwork more frequently. Thus the die will not be a one off expense even if the job is. Instead its cost is amortised over a longer period.

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Intec has upgraded its first cutting table, which now includes a new feeder, enabling the machine to run unattended. Four pick up fingers improve media handling with an air separation blade, expanding the amount of material it can handle.

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Vivid shows off Veloblade at PBS

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Vivid launched the first version of the Veloblade at the Print Show in September, scoring an immediate success with it. Now the company is introducing a version with a larger cutting area.

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