Choice of Blades
"Regular steel should not even be considered," says Kuehl. "HSS knives give you the quality and longer durability needed to meet desired needs, and carbide knives are very expensive and are usually reserved for specialty stock."
Adler agrees that HSS knives are the ones Fort Dearborn uses for most jobs. However, he believes the blade is "such a marginal cost of the cutter that you should buy what you think is the best. We have one of our divisions experimenting with carbide, but I think the jury's still out on it."
Dan Maliniak, vice president of Allied Bindery, in Madison Heights, MI, also sees the advantages of HSS over carbide. "Carbide blades cost twice as much to buy, cost twice as much to sharpen and don't last much longer," he says.
The blades at Fort Dearborn are changed nearly every other day.
Once a decision is made on the type of blade, the next step is how to service it. Blades must always be sharp—a dull blade can result in paper pulls and nicks in the finished product. Thus, there must be a backup supply of blades readily available.
Adler says the blades at Fort Dearborn are changed nearly every other day to keep them at their best. "Servicing the blades is a critical component of the cutting process. If you have to change the blade once a day, then change it once a day," he says, noting that Fort Dearborn keeps multiple sets of blades on hand at all times.
Now that the size of the machine and the type of blade have been decided, a printer or binder is left with the most difficult questions: How much optional equipment is needed? How much can the budget afford?
Zeigler recommends buying every option possible, such as Polar's Autotrim. With Autotrim, the cutting table opens up after the cut is made, allowing the waste to fall through and be transported to a bailer or waste removal system.