December '20

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C utting technology has stayed fairly consistent over the past few years. What has changed is the size of the machinery, the software, the level of automation, and the many tools and add- ons available. Graphics shops that don't have a lot of space can purchase smaller cutters or equipment that does more than one type of cutting. High-production shops can add models that take up more floor space but can process substrates more quickly. WHAT'S ON THE MARKET Most sign shops can get by with a five-foot cutter because they typically cut sheets that measure 4' X 8' or 5' X 10', says Steve Sheetz, Safety Speed Manufacturing. The company makes vertical panel saws and panel routers. "A lot of shops don't have space to add multiple cutters," Sheetz elaborates, noting that as the reason why Safety Speed began offering a combination machine that has both a panel saw and a dust-free sub- strate cutter. Shops that do a lot of printing or laminating can't have a cutter that produces a lot of dust. "Dust-free cutters are cutting using knife blades, scoring blades, and rotary wheel blades," Sheetz says. "Operators are pushing the blade through whatever substrate they are cutting. It is not motorized, so you are not throwing pieces of material and dust out while you cut. The limit on that is the strength of the operator. If you are making a lot of cuts, it can be pretty tiring." James Belcher, Graphtec America, states that his company's cutters run the gamut from small- er hobby machines that work well for crafting and entry-level home-based businesses to inter- mediate level and high-volume production level cutters. The company's cutters can cut from the thinnest to the thickest of substrates and come with operating software that enables shops to design and cut out an image, but it also keeps its equipment open architecture so that custom- ers can use their existing software on Graphtec machines. Cutting through Change THINKING OF ADDING A CUTTER? HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW B Y P A U L A A V E N G L A D Y C H S I G N A G E & P R I N T I N G Above: Some cutters, such as this one, feature an easily interchangeable vertical panel saw and sub- strate cutter. (Image courtesy Safety Speed Manufacturing) Below: As users get more comfortable with their machines, they can begin to expand into different uses, such as cut- ting fabrics. (Image courtesy Gerber Technology) Above: Mounted on an 11" - wide aluminum base with hinges, this machine features a narrow groove that accepts the blade tip during cutting. When shop- ping for a cutter, there are a variety of tools and options to consider. (Image courtesy Safety Speed Manufacturing) 2 0 G R A P H I C S P R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M

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