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Choosing the Right Cutter to Finish the Job

Posted by
Aug 07, 2018 11:01am
Posted in: Shop Talk, Small Business Advice, Tips & Trends

Every shop requires finishing equipment outside of the standard knife blade, ruler and cutting mat to achieve professional results and to increase productivity. When choosing a cutter outside of this trio, it is important to look at several factors and ask yourself a few questions before investing.

What materials are you looking to cut?

 This is the most important factor to look at, as not every cutter will cut every material:

Do you trim mostly flexible materials like paper and vinyl? Then a horizontal cutter is the way to go due to the ability to work at hip-height, attach a catch basket and get a very accurate, straight trim in no time.  If the material can be cut with a pair of scissors, you need to look for a rotary trimmer. If the material requires a utility blade for cutting, then you need to look for a cutter bar or vertical cutter.

Do you want to trim and finish textiles? A horizontal cutter has the option of adding either a rotary blade for knitted or cold-cut textiles, or a bracket and glass platen for an optional heat knife that will cut and seal woven textiles all in one pass.

Is more than 50% of your work rigid board or substrate? Then the vertical cutter is your best choice due to the option of different blades and the simplicity of standing a sheet in the cutter and simply pulling down the blade. Note that a vertical cutter will not cut flexible materials.

How thick is the material you want to cut? Most vertical cutters can handle anywhere from ¼ – ½” thick. Anything thicker will require a flatbed router like a Summa F or Aristo Flatbed Cutter.

How many pieces are you cutting? For example, with Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) cutting a few sheets daily is do-able, however if you have 100 sheets to cut every day you will want to look at a flatbed router like a Summa F or Aristo Flatbed Cutter to maximize your productivity.

Do you want to bend rigid substrates to create a 90⁰ fold? Most cutters are designed for cutting purposes, however you can also score materials by controlling the blade depth on a horizontal cutter.  Look to a SteelTraK vertical cutter with the ratchet V-Groove cutting tool to make true 90⁰ fold that won’t crack the face of ACM or fluted material once bent into place.

What are your space constraints? 

Working space within a shop is always a critical decision factor. Vertical cutters can take up more floor space if you are using the optional legs, or if its not being hung directly on a wall. For horizontal cutters there are options that are designed for permanent mount or potable use. They can screw directly into an existing work-table, Foster Big Bench or onto a flatbed applicator like a Rollover with special mounting brackets.

How will a new cutter add value to your shop?

  • Reduce time and labour, which increases profitability
  • Eliminate the time and cost of re-dos
  • Decrease the expense of overtime pay
  • Help prevent on-the-job injury with superior safety features

 These 3 models are the most popular available from ND Graphics. If you would like to view the entire Foster catalogue, you can see it here.

Horizontal Cutter – Evolution E2

  • Higher production cutter for semi-flexible and rigid materials
  • Accuracy of up to 0.008”
  • Can be mounted permanently to work table or Foster Work Bench
  • Sturdy torsion bar enables a single operator to lift and control the entire cutter bar from either end
  • High-performance double cutting heads accept two blade holders at one time, making it ideal for bi-directional cutting.
  • Double cutting heads allow for:
    • Switching between two blades without changing blades
    • Using the same blade type in both directions for bi-directional cutting
    • Using the same blade type in the same direction to score and cut through in a single pass
  • Long-lasting Graphik blades can be interchanged quickly, maximizing productivity
  • Perfect for cutting up to ½”:  Acrylic (¼”), Sintra/PVC Board (10mm), Polystyrene, Corrugated Plastic, Foam Center Board, Gator Board, Cardboard, Banner, Fabric, Textiles, Self-Adhesive Vinyl, Paper or Tissue

Horizontal Cutter – Javelin Series 2

  • An introductory horizontal cutter for semi-flexible and rigid materials
  • Accuracy of up to 0.008”
  • Can be either portable or fixed. This unit can be used on site for final cuts or stored when not in use
  • The device allows operators to easily lift the cutter bar, slide the material in place and clamp down to make precision cuts
  • You can combine the Javelin Series 2 with the Keencut Surface Mounted Lift & Hold or with the Big Bench Xtra to create a complete cutting table and workstation
  • Perfect for cutting up to ½”: Acrylic (¼”), Sintra/PVC Board (¼”), Polystyrene, Corrugated Plastic, Foam Center Board, Gator Board, Cardboard, Banner, Fabric, Textiles, Self-Adhesive Vinyl, Paper, Tissue

Vertical Cutter – SteelTraK

  • Developed specifically for the tougher and thicker rigid and semi-rigid substrates used in today’s signage market
  • All blades cut on the same line. No wasted panels – no mistakes guessing where the cut line is
  • Two flip stops can be engaged or disengaged without disturbing the settings, make cutting many items to the same size quick and easy
  • SteelTraK is available in a 65”, 82” & 98” cut size
  • Includes a wall mounting bracket or optional free-standing kit
  • Perfect for cutting up to ½”: Aluminum Composite (4mm), Acrylic (¼”), Aluminum (.040), MDF Board (3mm), Sintra Board, PVC Board, Polystyrene, Corrugated Plastic, Cardboard, Foam
  • Center Board, Flexible Polycarbonate (3mm), Gator Board, Glass (¼”)

Vertical Cutter – Excalibur 3S

  • Designed for tight budgets, the Excalibur 3S vertical cutter is economically priced and provides most of the cutting capabilities of the SteelTraK
  • A new self-lubricating bearing included on both cutting heads, can handle thinner hard substrates such as ACM, PVC and foam board
  • Twin-wheel Cutting Head can cuts up to 3mm: Aluminum Composite or MDF board
  • Utility Blade you can cut up to ½” (13mm): Foam board, Ultra board, Honeycomb board, Corrugated plastics, Excel PVC foam board
  • Scoring Blade: Scores up to ¼” (6mm): Acrylic or Plexiglas

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