Paper Cutters — Honing a Competitive Edge
"Controversial" would be too strong of a word to describe the status of CIP4 integration in finishing operations, but there are differences of opinion about its utility—especially at its current state of development. For obvious reasons, the more market segments (prepress, press and postpress) served by an equipment manufacturer, the greater the incentive and opportunity it has to implement the technology.
Whether it's done digitally or not, there are significant gains to be had from linking postpress operations to upstream processes, asserts Rob Kuehl, marketing director for Polar cutting systems at Heidelberg USA, Kennesaw, GA. Since as much as 70 to 80 percent of the cost of a job already is in the sheet by the time it reaches the bindery, waste becomes very expensive at that point, Kuehl says. The bindery has to find a way to make the materials it's given work, which is typically done by throwing people at the job, he adds.
"CompuCut (and other CIP4/JDF compliant) software can provide a digital link to prepress, but the postpress manager still needs to get involved at the job planning stage to avoid problems in finishing," Kuehl continues. Nonetheless, extending the digital workflow into the postpress arena does provide its own set of advantages, he says. This includes instilling a systematic approach to the work, which results in higher productivity and a better quality.
According to Kuehl, what buyers are looking for in a cutter is safety, reliability, productivity/automation and flexibility—in that order. The safety features of Polar cutters include an electronic light curtain that stops the blade if it is penetrated, a covered backgauge and a 0.5 second time delay in applying the clamp pressure. Along with CompuCut programming, the productivity of the cutters is optimized by a backgauge speed of 30cm/sec., which provides the ability to produce three to four cuts per minute, Kuehl claims.