By Lisa Guerriero
New equipment in the die-cut market is fueled in part by the increased prevalence of short-run personalization and packaging in the digital space.
Die-cutting capabilities give print providers many options for unique designs and shapes, observes Kevin Corwin, product manager, Rollem International. The machines offer the ability to “offer more diverse product offerings to existing customers, all in one small footprint of a machine.”
A key benefit of in-house die cutting is the savings that come from finishing jobs on demand, instead of outsourcing or keeping superfluous inventory, notes Kevin Chen, product manager, Duplo USA Corporation. “If operators need to die cut five sheets, they can cut only these five sheets without increasing cost.”
Applications and Trends
Die cutters are commonly used for applications like greeting cards and stationary, retail tags, mailers, door hangers, bottle-neckers, and business cards—a different shape gives new life to nearly any small, printed item. “Don’t be square, be round, oval, or scalloped,” quips Corwin.
The market is changing as digital printers expand into packaging and labels, several vendors note. Neal Swanson, director of marketing communications, Standard Finishing Systems, observes that, “we see a definite increase in the desire to produce lightweight, short-run packaging products,” thanks to improvements in digital printing and the rise of short-run finishing solutions.
Die-cut technology reflects the demand from digital printers. Scoring or creasing ability is available on digital-friendly machines for printers who want to make cartons. Virtually every die cutter available to digital buyers is capable of kiss cutting. “Labels, stickers, and clings are the most common products requiring kiss cutting,” notes Rollem’s Corwin. “Die cutting opens market share to the growing segment of packaging and labels.” In addition, some die-cut equipment manufacturers also make complementary folding/gluing devices.
Providers of rotary die cutters say they are ideal for new users because their magnetic cylinders make them easy to operate. This “allows the die-cut process to take place right on the digital print floor,” notes Swanson.
A small footprint is valued in die cutters of all kinds for the same reason, digital print providers usually want to incorporate them into an existing work space.
Bringing die cutting in-house isn’t solely an equipment decision. “Because the die-cutting process is foreign to the average person, it is important that the purchase of a die-cutting machine includes complete training and technical support. This includes familiarizing the customer on how to order the dies, run the machine, safety, as well as further finishing processes,” recommends Dennis Marking, regional sales manager, MBO America.
Die cutters are not limited to paper. Many models also handle paperboard and certain plastics.
Many solutions are on the market to offer on demand, die-cutting capabilities. Here is a selection of highlights from die cutters that target the digital space.
Brandtjen & Kluge, Inc. offers several steel rule die cutters that also perform embossing and foil stamping. Their platen cutters accommodate sheets up to 17×24.75 inches for the EHD and EHF Series, and an image area up to 22×30 inches for EHG Series Half-Sheet Press. All are capable of kiss cutting, die cutting, and scoring. Applications for the machines include greeting cards, letterheads and stationary, pocket folders, book covers, labels, packaging, business cards, and security printing.
The UD-300 Rotary Die Cutter, from Duplo USA Corporation, is compatible with a range of paper stock up to 14×20 inches at 3,000 sheets/6,000 cycles per hour, with a monthly duty cycle of 480,000 sheets. The UD-300 also performs multiple cuts, slits, slit-scores, kiss cuts, perforations, and window punches. “Operators can change from one job to another in less than five minutes and dies are changed within 30 seconds, allowing for more productivity,” notes Chen.
Typical applications include door hangers, retail tags, business cards, trading cards, and stationary. The machine measures 81.10×27.17×46.85 inches, plus an optional conveyor, where the finished pieces can be shingle stacked.
KAMA offers its ProCut automatic die cutters as well as the ProCut Foil finishing die cutters. The ProCut automatic die cutters feature the ability to cut, crease, perforate, as well as kiss cut items such as stickers, cold embossing, and Braille. The machines are ideally suited to replace cylinder cutters. The company recently released KAMA SBU for inline stripping and blanking without tools and AutoRegister for precise sheet alignment that adjusts to each sheet to print a mark.
The ProCut 53 fits a range of equipment including the Heidelberg SM 52, Ryobi 582, HP Indigo 5600 and 7600, and Xerox iGen 4. The ProCut 76 fits a range of equipment including the HP Indigo 10000 and HP Indigo 30000, Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 75, KBA Rapida 75, man roland 500, and Xerox iGen 4 EXT.
The KAMA ProCut Foil finishing die cutters are developed as modern equipment for the cost-sensitive finishing of small- and medium-run commercial and package printing. The flatbed die-cutter with hot foil stamping model provides users with the ability to create a variety of applications in-house, offering ten functions from kiss-cutting to hot foil stamping.
The ProCut 53 Foil fits a range of equipment including the Heidelberg SM 52, Ryobi 50, HP Indigo 5600 and 7600, Ricoh, and Ryobi. The ProCut Foil 76 fits a range of equipment including the HP Indigo 10000 and HP Indigo 30000, Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 75, KBA Rapida 75, Roland 200, 500, Komori Lithrone, Ryobi, and Xerox iGen 4 EXT.
MBO America offers the BSR 550 Servo, a rotary die cutter that cuts, kiss cuts, perforates, scores, micro-perforates, embosses, and de-bosses. It performs at speeds of up to 12,000 cycles per hour, 540 feet per minute. It’s compatible with a minimum product thickness of 24 or 60 pound text, and a maximum of 150 pound cover or 19 point.
The BSR 550 Servo’s 21.5-inch working width is aimed at digitally printed products, and it features inline or offline configurations. “If the die is already on hand, job changeover takes only a matter of minutes,” says Lance Martin, director of sales, MBO America.
The device is appropriate for the short-run market, and cuts a variety of materials, including plastics, paper, and board stock. Applications include bottle hangers, folded cartons, pharmaceutical outserts, greeting cards, mailers, business cards, specialty decals, and labels. It features a footprint of 13 feet four inches by four feet four inches wide. MBO also offers a variety of feeder options—including palletized, continuous fed, or pile.
Marking notes that the device’s inline stripping station is important to the overall process. It uses a vacuum table and a timed air blast to remove waste.
Muller Martini offers the die-cutting machine line from the Swiss manufacturer BOGRAMA worldwide. The die cutters expand saddle stitchers from Muller Martini in the lower and middle performance range. The machines can be attached to Valore, Presto, BravoPlus, and PrimaPlus saddle stitchers.
According to the company, BOGRAMA die-cutting machines deliver diverse production capabilities to manufacturers of saddle-stiched printed products. Utilizing an inline configuration with stitching-trimming-die cutting, many different creatively die cut, punched, and perforated products can be produced in one-up as well as multiple-up configurations.
Rollem International offers three sizes within its Delta Series of die cutters, each offering die cutting, kiss cutting, scoring, and perforating capabilities. Embossing capabilities may be available depending on the configuration of the machine.
Corwin says Rollem designed the die cutters specifically to serve the digital print market. “We wanted to deliver a product that would meet the following criteria—short runs, quick changeovers, ease of operation, and an affordable price point,” he explains.
The Delta 5 model handles sheets up to 20×15 inches and performs die and kiss cutting and creasing on stocks up to 22 point. Changeover on the Delta 5 model is completed in about ten minutes.
The Delta 6 model handles a 24×24-inch sheet and sheets are fed in either portrait or landscape orientation. The Delta 7 is geared toward larger-capacity digital presses, handling a 24×30-inch sheet.
All three models operate at speeds of up to 5,000 per hour, depending on the stock. The cutters come with an optional folder/gluer unit for packaging items, which runs inline with the Delta and accepts the die cut box for final folding and gluing.
Many applications are suited for the Delta Series, including greeting cards and stationary, shaped direct mailers, door hangers, labels, and packaging.
Standard Finishing Systems offers two rotary die cutters for digital printing, the Standard Horizon RD-4055 Rotary Die Cutter and the Standard Horizon RD-3346 Rotary Die Cutter. The RD-4055 is compatible with various substrates up to 0.019 inches thick, for digital and offset sheets up to 15.74×21.65 inches. It is also meant for kiss cutting, creasing, perforating, slitting, hole punching, and round cornering of substrates. Feeding, die cutting, and separating are completed at up to 6,000 cycles per hour. The RD-4055 features a 141.2×32.3-inch footprint.
Available options include a trim waste separator with delivery conveyor and a receiving tray for product and waste. The RD-4055 is designed for larger applications such as direct marketing mailers, die-cut novelties, labels, stickers, greeting cards, and pocket folders, as well as packaging applications that require an additional folding process afterward. Recent application testing indicated good results in embossing and de-bossing, says Swanson. The RD-3346 measures 107.9×27.4 inches and handles the die and kiss cutting of various flexible substrates up to 0.013 inches thickness, for digital and offset printed sheets up to 13×21.65 inches. Feeding, die cutting, and separating are achieved in up to 5,000 cycles per hour.
Applications for the RD-3346 include labels, tags, business cards, as well as playing cards.
The machine includes a trim waste separator with a delivery conveyor. Swanson notes that both machines are suited to short-run jobs.
Both the RD-4055 and RD-3346 are user friendly, with touch screen operation and job memory storage for common format and repeat applications.
A Perfect Cut
Label and packaging applications often require unique shapes and complex cuts. As these output types continue to hit the digital scene, new products—such as those described above—emerge to meet evolving demands and open the door to new opportunities. dps
Jan2015, DPS Magazine