What is Vinyl Cutter Plotter ?
If you are going into the sign-making business, you may want a cutting plotter. Cutting plotters are unique time-saving devices used in sign and billboard businesses. A cutting plotter can eliminate numerous hours or labor spent tediously cutting signs. And it also provides greater accuracy than the human hand can provide. Sign and billboard businesses aren’t the only ones who use these large-scale cutting devices that are similar to traditional printing plotters; tinted vinyl installers (for automobiles) use them, too.
- Basically, a cutting plotter is a large-scale cutting machine that can cut out large images (or letters and numbers) that are generally used in signs. This is done on a single flat surface through the use of a specialized cutting knife similar to a traditional plotter pen.However, unlike the traditional plotter pen, a cutting knife on a cutting plotter must be able to rotate even more freely in order to make needed cuts as the plotter head moves. Therefore, cutting knives on these machines are mounted on top of ball-bearings to aid with this process.
Space and Size Considerations
- Cutting plotter machines generally stand upright, usually on the floor of an office area, since they are quite large. But some do sit on table-like surfaces. However, there must exist adequate space in front or behind the plotter, regardless of whether it is standing or on a flat table.This additional space is necessary in order to allow the large paper—or other material being cut—to lay undisturbed while additional portions of the project are being cut. Eventually, all of the cut material will slide off the flat drawing surface onto the floor or catchall area directly beneath the plotter.
How It Works
- Typically, automated plotter knives cut into a piece of material (paper, mylar or vinyl) that is lying on the flat surface area of the plotter. This automated-cutting is achieved because the plotter is connected to a computer, which is equipped with specialized cutting design or drawing computer software programs.These specialized computer software programs are responsible for sending the necessary cutting dimensions or designs in order to command the cutting knife to produce the correct project cutting needs.
The material to be cut (usually vinyl) is either roll-fed or sheet-fed through the plotter automatically and once it reaches the flat cutting service, the cutting knife quickly makes the needed cuts before the item rolls off the flat cutting surface to make room for the next item to be cut.
Difficult Materials to Cut
- Some materials, such as leather and fabric, cannot be accurately cut by utilizing the roll-fed or sheet-fed process of the typical cutting plotter. These materials must be cut using another method, since they do not have a rigid backing to aid in keeping them moving smoothly through the roll-feeders.These types of materials can still be cut with a cutting plotter. Instead of feeding it through a roll-feeder, the material is placed on a vacuum cutting table that has strategically cut small air holes all over it.
A vacuum suction system sits beneath the hole-filled table and acts to secure the material in place as the cutting knife makes the needed cuts. A sheet of plastic on top of the leather or fabric provides an additional steadying pressure on the item being cut. The plastic is cut as well, but that does not present a problem with the desired material that is being cut in the process.
Future of Cutting Plotters
- Although cutting plotters are still currently in demand due to their precision-cutting capabilities, that may not always be the case in the near future, as sign and billboard industries continue to move towards alternative—and more advanced—technologies.However, at the present, cutting plotters are still needed in conjunction with the technological advances being made in the printing field. For example, the wide-format inkjet printers that many billboard companies are using for sign creation now can still only print a product; they can’t cut it. Until a new machine is created with wide-format inkjet capabilities that can also cut to perfection, it would seem that the future of cutting plotters remains secure.
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