By DPS Magazine Staff
Many printers are familiar with magnetic and magnetic-receptive media options. However, when you consider all of the heavy metal involved in finishing, one might wonder what possible challenges could pop up.
“Magnetic material is relatively easy to work with and can be cut easily. However, the proper blades and settings are required,” says Brian Ebenger, VP, business development, Xcel Products, Inc.
Raum Divarco, GM, Cutworx USA, insists that the application is always one of the key factors for any project—magnetic or not. He points out that when finishing magnetic and magnetic-receptive materials, brand, thickness, and intended cut process should be considered. “For example, maybe the available finishing platform is a traditional platen-style die cutter. If the material is magnetic or magnetic receptive, you may have to take steps to minimize the material wanting to stick to the platen plate.”
For digital die cutting machines, Divarco recommends considering the type of tooling used. “While these materials are generally relatively thin, they can wear out low-grade blades. If your project is for more contour cut shapes you may need to consider if blades will cause a raised edge—otherwise known as a lip—along the cut. Some of these results may be unacceptable for your customer. There are options for asymmetrical tools that significantly reduce the raised edges on thicker materials.”
Additional considerations may come into play if the magnetic vinyl has adhesive mounted to it. “Certain adhesives might require your operation team to occasionally clean the blade. This is to minimize drag force from friction as well as reduce tracking adhesive residue,” adds Divarco.
According to Sara Marshall, applications specialist, Zund America, Inc., with a Zünd digital cutting system, cutting printed magnet foil is easy. “Even if the material comes off a roll, the vacuum system provides the necessary hold down to keep it flat and enable precisely cut edges with very minimal bleed.” She adds that Zünd digital cutting/routing systems are capable of cutting any material—short of plate glass and steel—including magnetic and magnetic-receptive solutions.
Magnetic-receptive options aren’t magnetized when printed, so they won’t stick to metal. But, Ebenger points out they tend to be thinner and lighter than magnetic materials.
“Magnetic-receptive materials are generally thin and the volume of the job and the setup of the layout might require some extra thought,” agrees Divarco. “If the layout is set up to be common cut for smaller pieces, you might need to make sure your vacuum zones are optimized. Smaller pieces on what can be more rigid type materials may slide around. An option to minimize parts shifting could be depth control to allow the pieces to be stripped out of the sheet. Your operation team could also consider putting down magnetic sheets as the cutting underlay. For smaller pieces or sets of images this can assist in collating when the sheets come off the table.”
Above: Zünd cutters equipped with a Zünd UCT are able to cut any thickness of magnetic foil with a drag blade at full machine speed—40 in/s.
Several finishing tools are well suited for magnetic and magnetic-receptive media options including a router; die cutter; digital cutting system; and manual cutters, knives, and scissors.
“Tangential drag knife cutting tools would be some of the most commonly used for cutting magnetic materials. There are various profiles, grades, and thicknesses to choose from for every project,” shares Divarco.
To cut printable magnet foil, Marshall says customers will use a Zünd Universal Cutting Tool (UCT) with a standard drag knife (type Z10) blade. “The tungsten carbide blade easily makes its way through the material on common shapes, complex contours, and tight edges. This material can be cut at the maximum speed of 40 inches per second (in/s).”
Of all the options, Divarco notes that router and laser cutting are the least practical. “Router cutting can work but is prone to being messy. This is especially true with adhesive-backed materials. There will be shavings and other potential sticky debris and the processing speeds are much slower than using knife blade tools. Overall, it is a poor choice in the process for this application.”
Marshall adds that other blade and tool options can be recommended depending on the thickness of the material and the complexity of the shapes; however, Zünd does not recommend using a laser to cut this type of material.
“Laser processing for this application is not recommended in my opinion. Certain materials shouldn’t be laser cut depending on their composition. You can get burning, melting, and various other effects that are easily avoided with a knife cutting system,” suggests Divarco.
Of course, the thickness or thinness of the material affects which tool should be used and at what setting.
“All settings impact the cutting of the material so the gauge will play a critical role in the success of the material,” says Ebenger.
Thicker materials typically need a robust cutting solution, adds Divarco. “The thin blades used on thin sheets for contour cuts might not have too much resistance or deflection at .015 inches. The same thin blade might struggle to process materials when the thickness gets to .06 inches. The thicker the material gets, you may need to manage overcuts in interior corners for contour shapes.”
Divarco adds that some tooling options, like asymmetrical tools, help keep cuts smooth on thicker materials.
For larger volume runs Divarco suggests exploring partial depths of cuts similar to kiss cutting. With depth control and the fairly dense nature of the materials, you can easily strip out most of the pieces from the sheet. “This helps manage cycle times for sheets on and off the table.”
The Colex Finishing, Inc. Sharpcut Flatbed Cutter can easily cut magnetic material. It is capable of cutting up to 64 inches wide and up to two inches thick offering versatility, speed, and price.
Among its cutters, Cutworx Miura XY cutters are well suited for cutting flexible magnetic and magnetic-receptive materials.
Zünd cutters equipped with a Zünd UCT are able to cut any thickness of magnetic foil with a drag blade at full machine speed—40 in/s.
When it comes to finishing magnets, considerations for thickness and material composition should be top of mind.
Sep2023, DPS Magazine