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By Bill Schiffner
Finishing has been a popular product service in print shops for decades, and continues to grow in today's competitive marketplace. Output providers continue to look for new cutting, routing and finishing solutions to help them provide the latest products and services to meet their clients' needs. They are demanding increased automation capabilities, seamless integration into their existing workflows, and features that will expand the overall versatility of the finishing services they can provide.
Hartman says that high-end shops will also need to consider material handling - a means to transport material from the printer to the cutter. As digital printers get more productive, better material handling will be needed to keep up with the volume of printed output. "On the other side of the spectrum, there are many, many small shops that are investing in entry-level cutters to match up to entry-level wide-format printers, to complete entry-level solutions," he added. "This is a significant trend."
Utilizing More Diversified Substrates
"The workflow is changing more and more toward high-volume digital production consisting of longer single jobs, which are now printed and finished digitally, or multiple smaller jobs queued for the same/similar types of materials to minimize changeovers. Output providers are taking advantage, more and more, of the various levels of automation, from semi-automated to fully automated/unattended production for rigid and flexible materials."
Demand for Cutting Vinyl
"The apparel market is a sector where there is still significant demand for vinyl cutters," he commented. "The selection of materials available for heat transfer applications continues to grow, with glitter and hologram specialty transfers becoming increasingly popular."
He points out that a growing number of digitally printable heat transfer materials that can transfer to a much wider variety of apparel substrates (beyond cotton and poly blends) are also showing up in the market. He says vinyl cutters are using these digitally printed heat transfer materials, along with the ability to cut rhinestone templates, to take garment decoration to the next level.
Changing Marketing Trends
He points out that time to market also brings with it a tremendous pressure for prototypes. "Every level of the value chain is accelerated. Pieces must be printed quickly. Prototypes must be cut automatically. It also means that software must be available that can automatically send jobs from design to print, to cut. If you do not have a plan in your operation to deploy technology across the design-to-print-to-cut spectrum, you are at serious risk from those competitors that do."
"Finally, the greater ability of software systems to work with cutting and routing systems has fostered more creativity. We are seeing it in the ability to design more three-dimensional displays. It is not a huge trend yet, but it is happening. Of course, digital wide-format output is growing. This means more complex signs, displays and packaging. Textile printing is also growing rapidly," he added.
More Finishing Solutions on Display
Cutting Edge Innovations at Roland
"Roland's proprietary Quadralign technology, which allows the optical registration of Roland's GX-640 to read crop marks produced by 64-inch Roland printers, represents a major advancement. Advanced software, such as R-Wear Studio, has significantly expanded the capabilities of Roland's cutters, while also making them easier to use than ever before."
Valade reports that attendees at the 2013 SGIA Expo were able to check out their popular GX-24 Desktop Vinyl Cutter, as well as, Roland's most technologically advanced cutter to date - the Pro GX-640. "We showcased our innovative Quadralign technology, which allows Roland's cutters to be paired with the company's 64-inch print-only devices to form powerful print and cut combinations," he commented.
A Trio of ValueCuts from Mutoh
Universal Laser Systems
The ILS series offers Universal's Camera Registration (UCR) that features a camera mounted inside the laser system to locate and determine the exact positions of registration marks on printed materials. Software adjusts the predefined cut path to fit the material. A laser system user simply places material close to the correct position in the laser system, and the UCR automatically makes adjustments to the cut path to fit the material where it is placed.
Vision Engraving & Routing Systems
Vytek Laser Cutting
Kern Laser Systems
Flatbed Finishing from Summa
New Summa products on display at the SGIA Expo will include the S Class 2 (S2), the second generation of Summa's S Class range of flagship vinyl cutters. S2 features several substantial enhancements and upgrades to the original S Class, such as a seven-times-faster internal processor, full-color touchscreen display, Ethernet connectivity and the ability to store and run cut jobs directly from the cutter using a USB flash drive.
Summa displayed the F Series F1612 Pro Flatbed System, "It's one of the most versatile and affordable flatbed finishing systems available. A brand new F Series routing system is available, expanding the capabilities of the F1612 into new realms and applications. In addition, Summa also showed the usual lineup of DC Series printer-cutters as well as the popular SummaCut Series of vinyl cutters," Owen concluded.
Zünd Cutting Systems
"With Zünd Cut Center 2.0, the latest version of the Zünd user-interface and workflow software, we have made the digital cutting process even easier and more productive. Zünd has been focused intensely on providing increased automation on all levels - software and hardware." Alsten added that the focus of their exhibit at the 2013 SGIA Expo will be on further productivity increases, again in terms of software and especially in fully automated material-handling (loading and off-loading).
Colex Flatbed Cutting System
"The Colex cutter/router is special in that it allows finishing technicians to perform intricate cuts with the Sharpcut multi-functional mechanized capabilities. The Colex unique solution is its Triple Interchangeable Tool Head station that selects the proper tool for the job. Unlike most routers, the Sharpcut, in addition to its fixed knife and special oscillating knife for cutting and routing, can execute kiss cutting, creasing operations and V-Cut-90 degree angles as well as routing rigid substrates," he explained.
Waden added that the Sharpcut Flatbed Cutter can be equipped with a semi-automatic board feeder, thus increasing productivity substantially while minimizing manual labor.
"This provides users with the best affordable digital cutting automation system. The Sharpcut can also be equipped with a digital roll holder, allowing the cutter the versatility to cut blank or digitally printed rolls and boards."
Finishing Solutions from Esko
Bill Schiffner has covered the imaging industry for more than 20 years. He has reported on the many new digital technologies that have reshaped the imaging marketplace. email@example.com
This article appeared in the SGIA Journal, July/August 2013 Issue and is reprinted with permission. Copyright 2013 Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (www.sgia.org). All Rights Reserved.
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