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PAPER CUTTERS -- Cutting No Corners

August 2002
BY CHRIS BAUER


While production is a major factor for any finishing operation, one place where speed and productivity can take a backseat is in the paper cutting area—here safety comes first. And, according to leading paper cutter manufacturers, safety is their number one priority, as well.

"Safety standards for paper cutters have evolved over the years, forcing manufacturers to incorporate many different elements such as photo eyes, redundant circuitry and special guarding," remarks Jeff Marr, vice president of sales for Colter & Peterson.

Currently, the largest industry trend, according to Mark Pellman, marketing manager for Baum Corp., indeed is safety related—the recent adoption and implementation of the new ANSI B65.3 safety standards that became effective in March 2002. This standard is a voluntary standard that calls for infrared safety light beams as a safety feature on hydraulic-powered paper cutters, he explains.

"The use of infrared light beams has normally been found on cutters at 36˝ width and larger," Pellman notes. "This new safety spec brings ANSI standards closer to CE and other specifications that also require this important feature. Baum has included this as standard equipment before the standard was adopted and enacted."

While paper cutting machines have become safer, there have also been strides to make units faster and more automated.

"Consumers want to increase their productivity without sacrificing precision and quality," says MBM Corp.'s Donna Hall. "Electric cutters are being manufactured with digital keypads for entering precise measurements, and memory recall for frequent cutting jobs, such as business cards."

The automation trend has leaked its way into almost every facet of the printing industry, and cutting machines are no different, notes Tyrone Adams, manager of postpress sales for MAN Roland. This involves simplifying the programming of the cutter for the end user, he says.

"A related trend that I see in the bindery is the issue of CIP3/CIP4 compatibility, which enables the cutter to be programmed automatically from prepress or MIS data. That speeds setup, reduces the chance of operator error and plugs the bindery into all of the advantages of computer-integrated manufacturing," Adams points out.

There are many ways to safely speed the cutting process, confirms Heidelberg's Rob Kuehl, marketing director of Polar cutting systems. Polar cutters, distributed by Heidelberg, can be purchased with numerous options, including stacklifts to bring the material to the most convenient working height for better ergonomics; easier material preparation with the addition of a jogger; determination of quantity with a weighing scale (chipmarker); and by cutting with the most efficient handling equipment (gripper, turning gripper).

"We are selling more peripherals to help with productivity and ergonomics. These include stacklifts, joggers, loaders and unloaders," confirms Brett Stowe, managing director of Perfecta-USA. "We have had more customers asking about our swivel backgauge. This allows them to swivel the backgauge via the computer for out-of-square printed sheets."

Adams, of MAN Roland, distributor of Wohlenberg cutters, informs that units can be ordered with a standard front loading knife change device, automatic waste removal system and an auto clamp stop function that allows the clamp to move just a fraction of an inch off the stock after making the cut.

"The backgauge then moves forward and positions the stock for the next cut, and the clamp goes down for full pressure and makes the next cut," he explains. "The idea is that because the clamp does not have to travel the total distance back to the top of the knife beam, it actually increases the cutting cycle speed of the cutter."

Seeking Automation

Automation and programming are part of an industry-wide trend to simplify setup and operation of finishing equipment, says Don Dubuque, product manager for Standard Finishing Systems.

"This has been influenced by heavy turnover in shops, which leads companies to want faster operator training and the ability to cross-train easily," he observes. "We see fewer equipment specialists dedicated to one piece of equipment, so owners want operators who are cross-trained on different pieces of equipment."

Dubuque feels this is made easier with the advent of simple, yet powerful, programming and automation features. Equipment decision makers are looking for equipment which is simplified through the use of control panels and touchscreens that are similar—from one piece of finishing equipment to another.

Also, the industry trend towards on-demand jobs and declining run lengths is effecting the paper cutting market.

"Shorter runs have less tolerance for waste, and this is particularly important when a job reaches the cutter because it has already been through many other production areas," Dubuque asserts. "With this in mind, any mistake in the cutting (stage) can be very costly, which leads to the absolute importance of highly accurate, precision-engineered cutting. Also, as run lengths decline, setup time becomes a larger percentage of total job time, which drives up the labor cost on the job."

Speaking of costs, Marr, of Colter & Peterson, points out that prices on equipment like paper cutting machines are actually coming down, since manufacturing has become internationalized.

"In the past, paper cutters were manufactured in one country—with all components being sourced from within that country," he explains. "In today's competitive market, this is no longer happening. Recently, our market has experienced deflation as prices have dropped."

As an example, Marr says that a few years ago the price for a new, 45˝ paper cutter was around $75,000. Today, that figure is in the $60,000 range.

"The solution, from a manufacturing standpoint, is to use various components produced in "high-tech" countries, while having castings made—and most labor-intensive assembly work done—in countries where those processes cost less," he confides.


Making the Cut

The BaumCut 26.4 programmable paper cutter from Baum Corp. is fully hydraulic and stores 99 programs with 6,464 cut steps. Features infrared safety beams, two-hand timed cut release, covered rear table, built-in table light and optical cut line indicator.

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Challenge Machinery's Champion programmable paper cutters are offered with 301⁄2˝ and 37˝ cutting widths. 305 XT and 370 XT models feature a 10.4˝-diagonal color touchscreen, which uses a Windows-based system. Its 47,000 cut positions can be stored within the cutter memory; a floppy disk drive permits unlimited storage and backup of job information. XG models include dual LCD displays and a 99-channel, 9,801-cut memory. XT and XG models include hydraulic clamping and cutting, independent foot-pedal clamping, electronic clamp pressure control and variable-speed pinpoint backgauge control. A non-programmable 301⁄2˝ model also is available. Clamp opening is 4˝ and 51⁄8˝ for the 301⁄2˝ and 37˝ cutters, respectively.

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Colter & Peterson offers new Prism paper cutters in the sizes 30˝, 36˝, 45˝, 54˝ and 61˝, as well as new Saber paper cutters in the sizes 37˝, 45˝, 54˝ and 62˝. They also offer the Maxima Plus line of paper cutters in the 78˝, 102˝, 126˝ and 149˝ sizes, as well as Schneider Engineering paper cutters in 72˝ and 87˝ sizes. In addition to new machines, Colter & Peterson offers used and rebuilt paper cutters from 28˝ up to 112˝.

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Dexter Lawson offers 47˝, 52˝, 60˝, 60T80˝, 70T80˝ and 70T100˝ models, which feature microcomputer control. Backgauge speed of 8˝/sec. Full 7˝ clamp opening and enclosed design.

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Available from Heidelberg, the Polar ED offers various additional functions and operating modes such as a full-function keyboard, programmable parameters specific to each job and backgauge compensation. It is programmable for each program or a series of options for special tasks that provide more convenience and additional efficiency, even for specialized cutting work.

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MAN Roland's latest offering is the Wohlenberg/Baumann Curve Gripper System. It will allow a customer to prepare a total of five lifts that have been jogged, aerated and counted in a small work area with either one or two operators. The pre-jogged lifts are brought to the operator via the curve gripper so that the operator will spend less time handling the stock and more time cutting, thereby maximizing productivity. This system is said to increase productivity by up to 40 percent over a conventional cutting system.

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The Triumph 721 LT from MBM Corp. has an air table for easier paper handling of tall stacks of parent-size stock; a hydraulic clamp for mark-free cutting of specialty papers; an advanced keypad that can store up to 20 custom cutting programs with up to 16 steps in each; and, most importantly, the 721 LT features safety light beams to protect the operator during the cutting process.

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Perfecta-USA offers paper cutters in 30˝, 36˝, 45˝, 52˝ and 66˝ sizes. Patented overhead backgauge allows for a solid, one-piece table. Units offer touchscreen programming; quick knife change; and a new servo drive for improved accuracy and backgauge speed. Also available are Perfecta peripherals, Cut-O-Drill and complete cutting systems. The machines are CIP3 prepared.

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Standard Finishing Systems offers the Standard Horizon APC-M61 automatic hydraulic cutter. Designed for commercial, quick and in-plant printers and binderies, the APC-M61 offers rugged monoblock construction, quality engineering for precise cutting accuracy and maximum reliability, and programming simplicity. Up to nine programs with six steps each can be easily stored in memory for various cutting operations. The APC-M61 features a rigid, chrome-plated table with a maximum cutting width of 24˝ and a maximum lift height of 3.9˝.

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