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The cutting edge

Nov 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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For customers, cutting is a necessary evil,” says Rob Kuehl, director of product management, POLAR, Heidelberg USA, Inc. (Kennesaw, GA). “But no matter how much you hotrod your prepress workflow or supercharge your pressroom, nothing will race out the door unless your bindery can keep pace.”

Cutting takes time and labor at the end of the production cycle. Automation can rev up turnaround, save money and improve efficiency. Selecting the correct amount of automation takes some analysis.

“Automation on a cutter can begin by adding a jogger and a stacker. That's level one,” says Kuehl. “For a more demanding operation, 40-inch printers might consider adding a jogger, stacker, scale and offloader (often referred to as POLAR System 2). The next step up adds rear loading or AutoTurn, which turns and cuts automatically.”

Keeping pace

Heidelberg's P.A.C.E. (Polar Automation for Cutting Efficiency), for POLAR cutters ranging from 36 to 69 inches, features AutoTurn. It accelerates and simplifies the cutting process, especially when handling 28 x 40-inch and larger formats. Heidelberg works with printers to get material to and from the cutter as quickly and efficiency as possible. Stack lifts, TransOMats, gripper systems, conveyor tables, waste conveyors, counting systems, joggers and AutoTurn are all part of the mix, depending on the type of jobs being handled.

Winner of a GATF Intertech Award for 2008, P.A.C.E. has been installed primarily in plants with 40-inch presses. However, at Drupa Heidelberg showed the P.A.C.E. system with very large format 56-inch and 64-inch cutters. Commercially available today, these configurations are aimed at anyone with a wide-format press handling large sizes and heavy papers.

“Although the initial investment in a cutter equipped with P.A.C.E. might be higher, payback is typically within two to three years,” asserts Kuehl. “Consider, too, that the cutting system will be reliable for the next 15 to 20 years. That saves printers money and time, and makes it easier for operators.”

P.A.C.E. automation can eliminate one operator or helper in a two-cutter operation. At 40 hours per week, the savings would be $480 per shift simply by eliminating one unskilled laborer. This translates into $25,950 for one year. In addition, automation may increase efficiency by 40 percent, thereby increasing savings to $35,000 per shift per year.

Automation on all levels

For smaller printers, a new POLAR 66 26-inch cutter features network capability for offline programming with a direct connection to prepress.

The operator makes the first and second cut, then the program takes over all other cuts automatically. This allows users to make compensation cuts, done only on the first lift, allowing the program to run automatically for the remainder of the job. “This networking and programming ability is a first for this size cutter,” says Kuehl.

With the same network capability as the POLAR 66, POLAR 78 30-inch cutters are rugged enough for 24/7 operation. Kuehl notes networking capability is shipped with almost every cutter Heidelberg sells.

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C&P cuts through the digital market

Colter & Peterson (Paterson, NJ) is moving into new markets with the introduction of the Prism PC series of 21.5-inch to 32-inch machines. Designed for the digital on-demand and variable print market, this new line debuted at Graph Expo 08.

The Prism PC series, with built-in Microcut computer controls, features fully hydraulic operation, with a hydraulic clamp and hydraulic knife. “That is a departure from our standard Prism cutters, which feature gear-driven knives,” says Bruce Peterson, president and CEO, Colter & Peterson. “It's a less expensive alternative, but still provides reliability, safety and time savings.” And because the machine only turns on when cutting, it is particularly energy efficient.

Colter & Peterson plans to offer a complete line of Prism PC products early in 2009. Look for a 21.5-inch and 26.5-inch Prism PC paper cutter just after the first of the year.

Why the addition of a smaller cutting machine? “We have been getting so many requests for smaller sizes, we see adding a cutter for digital operations as an opportunity,” says Peterson. “These customers are very computer savvy, therefore the networking option upgrade offers another targeted advantage.”

The network advantage

“We have offered networking for some time,” says Peterson. “This is a feature that is growing as printers become aware of its benefits. Microcut technology, which won a GATF Intertech Award in 2006, can be added to older machines. We can network two or three existing paper cutters to one of our new machines in order to share files, network with prepress and speed up efficiency.”

The bigger, the better

In spite of its move to smaller equipment for digital applications, Colter & Peterson is committed to its Prism and Saber paper cutters. “We have extended our Saber from a 62-inch size by adding a 65-inch and most recently a 75-inch model. And we also offer machines built in Europe that are 90, 102, 126 and 149 inches wide,” Peterson notes.

The new Saber 75-inch model is designed to work with the XXL presses. Why a 75-inch model? “It's very difficult to handle a 64-inch sheet on a 69-inch cutter,” Peterson explains. “The operator wants to jog sheets from the side but finds it hard with only a 4-inch space. Therefore, Colter & Peterson decided to provide an 11-inch space for particularly easy access.”

Digital book solutions

The QuickTrim, designed for on-demand and variable perfect bound book production, is another new product from Colter & Peterson. It features a digital PLC computer setup with touchscreen controls. The QuickTrim is servo-driven and features speeds up to 720 cph.

Making size changes with the computer controls takes less time than doing it mechanically, resulting in operators being able to output more books per shift.

C&P Peripheral equipment, introduced this year, includes a full range of stack lifts, joggers, loaders and unloaders.

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More cutters!

Programmable cutting system

Baumfolder's (Sidney, OH) BaumCut 31.5 programmable cutter stores up to 99 programs with 6,464 cut steps. It is fully hydraulic and offers infrared safety beams, two-hand timed cut release and covered rear table help ensure operator safety. Programming is automatic, and a central LCD display indicates data in the selected language.

The Baum A2 Air Side Tables adapt to the BaumCut 31.5 cutter, enabling heavy loads to be moved to and from the cutter. These heavy-duty air tables can be arranged in several configurations to adapt to floor space and workflow requirements.

Easier jogging is achieved with the automatic Baum B2 jogger. Automatic gauges on both sides feature hard-chrome plated table surfaces for corrosion resistance. The table can be inclined to the right or left with four angular adjustments for each side. Jogging intensity can be infinitely adjusted. Air supply during jogging can be activated as needed. The Baum B2 jogger can be operated offline, or integrated as a complete cutting system.

The Baum L2 or L4 Stack Lift presents the stock at a convenient work height. It provides an ergonomic solution for reducing back strain while increasing operator efficiency. The Baum Stack Lift can be integrated to form a complete inline system with the B2 jogger.

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Multifunction paper finishing station

MGI USA, Inc. (Melbourne, FL) is introducing its UFA3 multi-function paper finishing station. The unit cuts both horizontally and vertically, as well as slits, creases and scores in one pass. The standalone unit uses interchangeable tools and an optical sensor for pattern validation. It can accommodate sheet sizes up to 13 x 19 inches and paper in weights up to 100-lb. cover. The new model features full automation.

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Paper guillotine cutter

Challenge Machinery (Norton Shores, MI) introduces the Challenge/Daeho iCutter series paper guillotine. It is available in sizes from 34 inches to 61 inches. The device offers a CIP4/JDF-compatible machine with an easy-to-use, Windows-based color touch-screen display. The heavy-duty cutter has a dual gear-box-driven knife and rugged construction.

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Automatic hydraulic cutter

Standard Finishing Systems (Andover, MA) is offering the Horizon APC-M61 IISB automatic hydraulic cutter. Up to nine programs, with six steps each, can be stored in memory for various cutting operations. The cutter features a rigid chrome-plated table with a maximum cutting width of 24 inches and a maximumlift height of 3.9 inches. It can be connected to the Horizon i2i bindery control system, a JDF-enabled digital workflow that allows set-up automation and job status visibility across the bindery.

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Jill Roth is executive editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at

xpedx shows wide range at Graph Expo

“As demand for shorter runs and quicker turnarounds continues to grow, printers need new postpress equipment that is compatible with their offset and digital presses,” says Dennis Killion, xpedx's (Cincinnati) newly appointed corporate director of marketing for graphics.

xpedx is expanding its postpress offering including offline UV coaters, cutters, binders, bookletmakers, folders, and new offerings in mailing and fulfillment.

At Graph Expo, xpedx demonstrated the following equipment:

  • An offline UV coating system from FMA, Inc.
  • A Morgana DigiFold automatic creaser/folder.
  • A 20-inch Baumfolder.
  • A Perfecta cutter.
  • A folding and inserting system, tabber and addressing printer from Secap.

xpedx reps also were available to discuss C.P. Bourg collators, bookletmakers and perfect binders. xpedx has signed national distribution agreements with FMA Inc. and C.P. Bourg.


Crossmark Graphics' cutting operations

Making the cut

Crossmark Graphics Inc. (New Berlin, WI) is a commercial printer with a specialty — lenticular printing. Adding a new 41-inch Heidelberg XL 105 Speedmaster to its fleet of 26-inch presses, the company is now able to serve major clients who ask for very long runs.

“We do promotional material such as brochures and folders for many pharmaceutical companies, and those runs start at 200,000 and top out around 1.5 million,” explains president Jim Dobrzynski, Sr. Between the pharmaceutical work and the lenticular work (such as 2 million bookmarks for Nintendo), long runs dominate.

To accommodate short-run work, Crossmark also boasts an HP Indigo six-color digital press.

Doing more with less

After adding a 6-color XL 105 press with aqueous coating two years ago, Crossmark was ready to look at potential savings opportunities in its postpress operations.

In April 2008, Crossmark invested in a POLAR P.A.C.E. cutting system from Heidelberg. The system includes a jogger and a Trans-O-Mat system that includes a stacker and unloader. “The system is extremely automated,” says Dobrzynski. “While the machine cuts, the operator jogs and the Trans-O-Mat stacks and unloads.”

There are other advantages, also, says Dobrzynski. “We have a number of jobs that repeat on a regular basis. Although programming the Pace system is simple, we save time by saving the frequently used programs in the robotic system.”

Was the investment worthwhile? “Absolutely,” says Dobrzynski. “With the addition of the POLAR P.A.C.E. system, we were able to eliminate a helper on the cutter. Today, one person produces 20 percent more work than two people on our older, less automated cutter.”

The next step

With 55 employees and a 66,000 sq.-ft plant, learning how to get the most from internal processes is a primary concern. Toward that end, Crossmark instituted CIP3 operations in its pressroom with the addition of the new 41-inch press. “Our productivity in the pressroom has increased because we get up to color much faster, and the accuracy is good,” explains Dobrzynski.

As the company monitors continuing success with automation in the pressroom, Dobrzynski and his team are looking at ways to more fully integrate the next steps in automation into the postpress operations. Dobrzynski wants to go slowly. “It's not just the technology that has to be taken into account,” he says. “The internal operations have to be up to the mark. That is what we are currently working on. But there are some definite advantages to moving toward CIP4 operations. For example, now we do programming at the cutter. With further automation, all of that information would come from prepress and be transferred to the cutting system. So we are working on moving in that direction and hope to have CIP4 in operation by April 2009.”