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Advice choosing a new cutter & suitable softwarePosted by David Stevenson on June 11, 2021 at 4:34 pm
Hi, can anyone advise me regarding vinyl cutters? We’ve currently a Roland GR640 which has serious tracking problems (has had from the start) and several other annoying features. Ideally we’d like something that could deal with long printed graphics to be contour cut, cutting & perfing thousands of stickers at a time, and doesn’t need a baby sitter all the time. We’d also need a RIP to go with it capable of running a couple of Rolands (XR640 & VF2-640). Any thoughts?
Thanks as always,
DavidDavid Stevenson replied 1 year, 5 months ago 8 Members · 17 Replies
Jamie WoodMemberJune 12, 2021 at 8:01 am
We were in a similar position last year, and ended up getting a Graphtec FC9000. It does everything you’re looking for, unattended contour cutting, and perf in the same operation. It’s also very accurate with tracking, and can be bought with an optional take-up for long runs. We use the Cutting Master plug-in with Illustrator, so you don’t necessarily need a new RIP, but you can use it with barcodes on Onyx or Caldera. If you’re definitely going to get a new RIP, my preference would be Onyx, as I prefer the workflow to Caldera. Both give very good results, but are more complex than VersaWorks. Caldera can be run on Linux or Mac, Onyx is PC only.
Robert LambieAdministratorJune 13, 2021 at 12:01 am
Several years ago I chose the top of the range, Summa cutter, with the additional £1000 take-up system for roll-to-roll print and contour cutting. Purchased from Perfect Colours and I had no end of trouble with it. I have no doubt the machine could do what it was supposed to do and in my opinion, we had a faulty machine. But Perfect Colours did not want to know. Even though they themselves couldn’t get it successfully contour cutting accurately up the width of the gantry, never mind cutting a metre or so into the roll. They never even got to show us it working using the take-up system, because the technicians they sent didn’t know how to work it. Several months later, countless wasted prints and they reluctantly agreed to take it back and give a full refund.
We already had Graphtec cutters but we were never happy with the contour cutting accuracy over a few metres, which made me want to opt for the summa.
Having read Jamie’s reply, I am wondering if I should stick with Graphtec!
@Jamie-Wood do you have a latex printer?
The reason i ask is Latex printers can distort print output slightly dependant on the media being used. You can calibrate the machine to compensate for this, but thought i would ask anyway.
We have ONXY 11 and recent ONYX-GO, also Signlab 10.
Jamie WoodMemberJune 13, 2021 at 8:44 am
We’re using Epson SC S86000’s at the moment.
DanMemberJune 13, 2021 at 9:36 am
I too have the FC9000.
I’ve also had the summa s2 tangential cutter and in my opinion the summa is head and shoulders above the Graphtec build wise.
Why did I pick the Graphtec then?
Convenience! And to be fair I don’t think theres much in it but the cutting master plugin is far better than Summa’s go.
I can cut straight from illustrator without having to transfer to the Pc. This is a great help when I make those silly little errors and i need a quick fix.
I’m a little lost in regards to the barcode though. Onyx add the barcode automatically but I can only seem to cut one at a time. If I add the barcodes in illustrator and use cutting master, I can tell it to keep looking for the barcodes after each job.
This may well be a user issue but I can’t figure it out.
I also have had a few issues and personally I don’t feel like Graphtec take much notice.
My screen randomly goes blank sometimes, I have to restart the machine to get it back.
If I use onyx to cut from cut server and then use cutting master, my step size changes. I suppose I could get around this by setting up another user on the cutter, I believe you can have two users but not worked out how yet.
Sometimes by buttons are unresponsive and maybe a few other issues but all rectified with turning the machine off and on.
Have issues reading barcodes, I’m not sure if this is a user error as I’ve not long had the machine but I always get timed out. Maybe someone can help but If I run some jobs through which are all the same, when I send it to the cutter and hold,do I have to change repeat to I.e 40?
Also, if I have 20 of one job and then 5 of second job then another 5 of the first job again, it won’t scan. If I look at cutting master it says done.
Is it a case that I have to run the job all in one go without jobs in between? I’m not sure
Robert LambieAdministratorJune 22, 2021 at 11:01 am
what sort of lenghs are you accurately contour cutting, Jamie?
I have a large job coming up and the graphics are print, laminate and cut around 5m long by 50 inch high.
Also, do you ever have to caliberate the epson to compensate for image distortion during printing?
Are you still having as many issues with yours, Dan?
Jamie WoodMemberJune 23, 2021 at 8:59 am
We’ve done 5m long contour cuts, with no problem. We always run on a slow speed for this sort of size, which helps with accuracy. To the best of my knowledge, the Epson is self calibrating, it has a camera underneath, next to the head. It does seem to be more accurate than our previous Mimaki printers.
Colin CrabbMemberJune 23, 2021 at 8:36 am
Summa here with Latex machines – and when contour cutting stickers, will never run more than 3m per batch to avoid any tracking issues.
Robert LambieAdministratorJune 23, 2021 at 3:13 pm
thanks for that jamie.
i might be describing this wrong. when I say calibrate, I mean. when any vinyl goes through a printer there can be a slight distortion to the image based on the type of ink or heat used to cure the ink. cheaper materials like monomeric will distort more than cast etc
we can not see it with the naked eye, but if you print say a circle 50 inches and then contour cut the vector. the vector will be a perfect circle but the print may creep inside or outside the circle based on the distortion.
an easy remedy is bleed on the image, but when you try doing that over 15+ metres, particularly roll-to-roll contour cutting. that tiny margin can be way off halfway into the vinyl if not compensating for the distortion.
if this type of things happens in the latex, you print a metre black square and measure height and width. if it’s 1000 higher but 1002 length then you alter the calibration and it compensates for this distortion when printing for contour cuts.
I doubt it would need to be used on a few metres of vinyl at a time, but long runs and roll-to-roll it needs done. just one time though, for whatever media is used.
Robert LambieAdministratorJune 23, 2021 at 3:25 pm
what model of summa do you have colin and do you have the additional take-up system?
David StevensonMemberJune 24, 2021 at 8:26 pm
Hmmm, it seems my dreams that of unattended cutting of 50m rolls are shattered 🙁 I’d hoped we could print a ton of stickers, shove them in a cutter and have it cut away while re-calibrating itself in the background. There’s a couple of jobs we have take a couple of days of solid printing/cutting to complete. The plan was to split the job between our XR & VF ,then load onto the new cutter to finish. Wouldn’t be the end of the world though if we had to run shorter lengths as long as we didn’t have to arse about changing the blade position for perf & cut like we have to with the GR640. Whoever in Roland that thought that would be a good idea have obviously never used a cutter. I’d hoped a firmware change would have removed the stupid feature but not to be unfortunately. Still fancy the look of the Summa though, although looks can be deceiving as Rob discovered
Jamie WoodMemberJune 25, 2021 at 5:49 am
You could potentially do this on the Graphtec FC9000, with the take up. We do a lot of full rolls of contour cut vinyl. On the Graphtec, you have ‘conditions’, which you can pre-configure. For instance, we have condition 7 & 8, set to kiss-cut (7), then die cut (8), in one operation, with the cutting tool in the front position. You can do it without the take-up as well. Just set cutting master to do 10 rows (or however many you’re comfortable with), then slice off and continue.
Sometimes we’ll do more than 10 rows, and just pause the machine whilst slicing the completed part off, then continue.
David HammondMemberJune 25, 2021 at 9:12 am
We’ve recently upgraded to the VF2-640 (belting machine)
Previously our OKI would run through Signlab VPM, and print and cut was a doddle with our graphtec, now it’s a little more tedious, having to impose jobs up in illustrator, add marks, save, print, then reopen to cut.
We’re considering getting a Roland Cutter to work alongside our Graphtec to run all the print and cut work through.
David StevensonMemberJune 25, 2021 at 5:57 pm
We’ve also just upgraded from a EJ640 to a VF2-640 with Orange & greens ink. Like you say David it’s a belting machine, which is more than I can say for our Roland GR640 cutter. It’s tracking is pathetic with the roll running off every few metres. It takes ages to find the 1st registration mark even after running the sensor over it several times, and without a doubt the most stupid and annoying feature is the need to swap the blade position forward and back in the holder when swapping between cutting & perforating!!! That on it’s own is enough to make us want to get shot of it. It also constantly brings up a motor error if you don’t either switch “pre-feed” on which helps mess up the tracking / alignment because it feeds the material out before starting cutting, or forget to unroll enough material for the job. Never once had any of these problems with our XR640 which is rock solid. The only good point is it works most of the time with Versaworks, that’s when it’s not crashing even when running on a 12 core PC with 32gb of ram!!!
Rant over lol
Simon WorrallMemberJune 25, 2021 at 10:36 am
Just a wild shot in the dark David.
Check that the famous Roland outer wheels are not cracked.
David StevensonMemberOctober 4, 2021 at 7:54 pm
Apologies for the delay in replying Simon. The tracking has been an issue from the machine first came through our doors. It’s incredibly accurate on small text but ask it to track a few metres and it’s a nightmare. Thankfully we’ve an XR that we can stick long jobs on to cut if need be.
Steff DavisonMemberJune 25, 2021 at 6:44 pm
Used to contour cut 50 meter rolls unattended all the time. Summa with summacut server. Occasionally had tracking issues but we were contour cutting approx 3000 sq meters a week using above method. At the time (4 years ago couldnt find any other manufacturer who offered a solution, apart from summa)
David StevensonMemberOctober 4, 2021 at 7:56 pm
Apologies in the delay replying Steff. The Summa sounds the job for sure. Would be nice to get an upgrade that actually works unattended as it should. Haven’t time to be babysitting machines