Varnishes, custom colors, foil stamping, lamination: when it comes to finishing graphics, these are the processes that immediately come to mind. Too often cutting is just an afterthought. That's a mistake. As with all other finishing methods, the purpose of digital cutting is to "perfect" a product, at least according to the dictionary definition. High time, therefore, to put digital flatbed cutting in proper focus as a method for adding value and creating perfectly finished products.
Daniel Bischof, Zünd Systemtechnik AG
Cutting... the path to perfection?
At first glance, cutting printed boards, sheets, or even rolls of fabric seems easy enough. Not so. As many different materials as there are, there are just as many specific cutting requirements. Soft or hard, rigid or flexible, heat-sensitive, prone to distortions... the diversity of materials and their specific cutting parameters keeps growing, and so do the applications for which these materials are used. However, there is one process all displays, banners, posters, POP and just about any other printed graphics have in common: the finishing step that involves cutting. The cutting process can be purely functional or provide a way to further enhance or embellish the product.
Digital cutting is a part of the art of finishing that, depending on the substrate, demands a considerable amount of technical knowledge and experience. Even so, the user is no longer required to possess these prerequisites. In fact, this is an area where Zünd Cut Center, Zünd's highly intelligent and user-friendly CAM software can take over. An integrated material database contains optimal cutting parameters for every conceivable material and application, which ensures the best possible processing methods and corresponding parameters are used every time. For effective finishing, manual cutting has mostly become a thing of the past. Only digital cutting and a fully integrated, end-to-end workflow is able to deliver consistent, repeatable, top-quality finishing results.
Cutting and more
Are automation and the resulting profitability and flexibility also part of the finishing equation? Yes they are — indirectly, at least. Graphics finishing can be costly and frequently occurs in small batches. This makes efficient, cost-effective finishing methods especially important. The ability to finish "batch size 1" quickly and economically, with guaranteed fast turn-around times and impeccable quality, are just a few of the demands today's PSPs put on their finishing equipment. This is where the modular design of all Zünd cutting systems plays a critical role. It provides users with the options to adapt their cutting solutions any time to meet specific production requirements. Zünd cutting systems can grow right along with the demands they need to meet. PSPs are investing in an open production system that can keep up with growing individual demands for material-handling automation and ever more diverse processing methods. Aside from the traditional methods using a variety of standard cutting tools, processes for further enhancing product finishes include routing, creasing, perforating, kiss-cutting, and v-cutting. All tools and modules can be switched in a matter of seconds.
Productivity and process reliability are critical factors in remaining competitive in today's challenging economic conditions. Modern digital cutting systems provide users with the flexibility to react quickly and dynamically to changes in customer demands. With automated production lines, even SMEs are able to produce economically and provide top quality... with a Zünd G3 cutter, for example. An automatic sheetfeeder loads the materials, while a collaborative robot takes care of picking and off-loading. Job retrieval, too, occurs automatically, with a camera system that captures printed QR-codes and automatically opens the corresponding cut files in Zünd Cut Center ZCC.
Zünd tackles the issue of productivity from every angle; through simple integration in existing production environments, for instance. This enables the user to build a continuous, end-to-end production workflow. At the same time, Zünd cutting systems are extremely reliable and known for their continual uptime. Minimal interruptions in production are yet another way in which Zünd cutters boost overall productivity. Furthermore, Zünd supports the user in providing automation for individual production processes. In routing applications, for example, the fully automated router bit changer ARC keeps setup time and effort to a minimum and significantly increases process reliability. Non-stop production is another important characteristic of state-of-the-art cutting systems. Various options are available for loading/unloading both rolled and sheeted/board materials, which means material handling can be made a largely autonomous function. The same goes for picking/off-loading cut parts with a collaborative robot. For many wide-format applications, the fully automated board-handling system BHS is a highly dependable solution for automatic loading and off-loading/stacking.
Perfecting your workflow
Modular, high-performance cutting systems are used in very diverse applications. Common to all, however, is the constant pressure to remain competitive while preserving margins. Customers react to these conditions with continuous innovation and lean, fully automated manufacturing processes. The innovative technology solutions Zünd offers are designed specifically to meet these requirements. Zünd high-performance cutters are the perfect solution for increasingly digital production environments. They are extremely versatile, offering the ability to process a wide range of diverse materials on one and the same machine. And thanks to their modular design, they can adapt quickly and easily to changes in customer demand.
In conclusion: All of these possibilities make digital cutting systems ideal tools for finishing printed graphics. They offer new perspectivies in the pursuit of additional business opportunities.
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