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Paper Cutters Honing a Competitive Edge

November 2001
Are your blade's a little worn? The newest cutters on the market will bring some sharp features into your bindery. (The online version of this story features information not included in the print version.)


Cut. Knife. Blade. Guillotine.

The terminology alone shows why safety is a must when it comes to paper cutters. Two-handed cut activation, non-repeat knife cycles and auto-stop infrared light curtains are just some of the safety features that have been mandated by law and market demand.

Because manufacturers are not willing to compromise much in this area, all the latest cutters are endowed with solid safety features. This means buyers must look to other areas to differentia between models. Features like programmability and integration of joggers, lifts, unloaders and bundlers are becoming essential on cutters.

The programming features now offered on cutters are becoming increasingly sophisticated. The base level of computerization—a keypad or touchscreen and visual display—has become the standard, even for smaller cutters. The next step up is the ability to download job setups (from another cutter or central computer) via floppy disk or network connection. The current apex of cutter control technology is integration of the CIP4/JDF specification, which some cutter manufacturers have started offering.

The CIP4 (International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress) organization is working to develop the Job Definition Format (JDF) specification as a way to digitally integrate the print production process. The goal is to have job parameters digitally captured once at the front end of the process, then pass that data along the production chain to speed makeready at every stage and eliminate communication errors. Prepress and press operations have been making the biggest push for CIP4/JDF adoption, but its full benefit can only be realized by also tying in the bindery and finishing.

"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.

Significant Gains From CIP4

Whether it's done digitally or not, there are significant gains to be made from linking postpress operations to upstream processes, asserts Rob Kuehl, marketing director for Polar Cutting Systems, at Heidelberg USA. Since as much as 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 is given work. This is typically done by throwing people at the job to make adjustments to the sheets, he adds.


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