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Paper Cutters--Slicing Through the Competition

March 2000
Paper cutters do not advance as quickly as press and prepress systems, but competition for the cutting-edge is heating up.


BY ERIK CAGLE


In an age when high-tech gizmos have proliferated the commercial printing landscape, the paper cutter stands as a testament to meat-and-potatoes machinery, joining such luminaries as the internal combustion engine, the hammer and the light bulb.

Monitors and computer automation have managed to sneak their way onto the old school tool, but in the end the cutter remains what it was 25 years ago—a cutter. John Porter, division manager of LDR International, the distributor for Itoh in the United States, believes customers need to remember that the machine itself is the most important consideration when it comes time to "cut a check," so to speak.

"It is our firm belief that the most important feature of a paper cutter should be the construction of the cutter itself: the frame, the knife bar, the gear box and how the knife is drawn through the paper," Porter states. "Customers sometimes become enamored with the computer features and fail to look deeply into what is really needed to cut large volumes of paper accurately."

The Itoh is no lightweight; the unit has a one-piece cast iron frame and a heavy knife bar that is drawn through the paper with two arms—one at each end—and two gear boxes. This allows for the accurate cutting of large quantities of paper.

With CIP3 programming spreading throughout many plants, LDR/Itoh recognized the need to offer computer controls, along with a television monitor. It features increased storage memory and a floppy disk so that customers can upgrade software and download jobs for storage with job jackets.

Precision and Accuracy
Mark Hunt, director of marketing for Standard Finishing Systems, manufacturer of Standard Horizon cutters, concurs that accuracy is one of the highest priorities in the manufacture of cutters.

"A quality cutter is only as good as the accuracy of the cut it delivers," he states. "Several factors influence cut accuracy. The knife carriage needs to be housed in a perfectly rigid frame to ensure consistent knife travel. Horizon cutters have a unibody cast frame for maximum rigidity and strength.

"The next factor is the means of powering the knife, to ensure that knife pressure can be maintained consistently," he adds. "A mechanical knife system is inherently more accurate than a hydraulic system, which has the potential for slower knife speed and loss of power due to inconsistency of the hydraulic pressure. This, combined with maintaining a sharp cutting edge and sufficient clamping pressure, are the keys to cut accuracy."

 

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