Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
Best electronic cutting machine 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated June 1, 2019
Best electronic cutting machine of 2018
I browse the various electronic cutting machine available on the market and list three of the very best. I want to find something that’s designed well (both for aesthetic purposes and efficiency).
You must have heard that the best electronic cutting machine should allow you to save money, right? Sure, but that’s not the only reason you should consider getting one. Simply review and buy them.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
Why did this electronic cutting machine win the first place?
I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! The material is stylish, but it smells for the first couple of days. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing!
Why did this electronic cutting machine come in second place?
The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed.
Why did this electronic cutting machine take third place?
I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. The material is incredibly nice to the touch. It has a great color, which will suit any wallpapers. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time.
electronic cutting machine Buyer’s Guide
Silhouette Cameo Tool Bundle
If you’re interested in making craft projects such as stickers, vinyl decals, and custom cards, consider getting an electronic cutter. These electronic die cutters and plotters cut designs out of a variety of materials. They use software that lets you create, upload, or purchase designs to be cut. And often, if you put in a pen instead of a blade, they can draw too. A quick tour of Instagram hashtags shows the wide range of projects people make with these machines.
Some crafters use manual die-cutting machines, which are mostly limited to cutting paper. If you already own one of those, and it does everything you want it to, you have no need to upgrade. But the expense of buying single image dies adds up, and manual die cutters that cut fabric can cost about as much as an electronic cutter. If you want to cut anything with vinyl, make stickers, draw with pens, create more elaborate projects, or work with a wide variety of materials, you should choose an electronic cutting machine.
Keep in mind that there’s a learning curve with these machines, especially with the software, so it helps if you’re comfortable with online tutorials and manuals, or have a friend who can teach you. It also helps to start with easy projects, such as a simple vinyl decal, to learn the basics.
How we tested
Once we had our four models for testing, we spent a lot of time with the Silhouette Studio and Cricut Design software—about 1hours total—on both a MacBook Pro (macOS) and an HP Spectre (Windows PC). Before we started cutting anything, we used both programs to try to create basic designs, looked at their collections of projects and images, and asked the companies directly about certain features. We looked at online tutorials and at the Cricut and Silhouette help sections to learn some new techniques, and we noted which software felt more intuitive, with clearly labeled tools to help us get started.
We also timed how long it took for us to set up the machines (all four were under minutes), and how easy it was to start making a project. We looked at the machines’ cutting speeds and noise level—following a suggestion from Silhouette School’s Melissa Viscount, who said some crafters used these machines while their children were napping.
Even if you’ve never touched the Cricut Explore Air before, you can start cutting ready-made projects in a few minutes.
Cricut Design never crashed on us, while Silhouette Studio crashed repeatedly on our Windows laptop (an HP Spectre) but not on our MacBook Pro. Cricut’s canvas, the software’s workspace for making projects, is easier to navigate than in Silhouette Studio thanks to its big, well-labeled icons. And if you’re drawing a layer instead of cutting it out, Cricut assumes you’re drawing with a Cricut pen, so the software shows all the pen colors the company makes for you to select from. Silhouette Studio, in contrast, uses a generic palette of colors that aren’t matched to Silhouette’s own sketch pens. We like that extra touch in the Cricut software; it’s especially useful for anyone who wants a clear visual of their finished project.
First-generation Cricut machines used image cartridges, which are still sold, and the Explore Air can use these. We don’t recommend buying new cartridges, since the digital library is more affordable and more flexible, letting you pick and choose single images. But if you happen to have a stash of cartridges, you can put them in the Explore Air 2, which will link them to your account and let you use the digital versions (you won’t be able to resell the cartridges once they’re linked).
In our testing, we found that the Explore Air made perfectly clean cuts in cardstock (the Silhouette machines snagged the paper a bit), and the materials dial was accurate. It easily cut through vinyl and left the backing paper intact, which is what it should do. The Silhouette Cameo also did a decent job calculating material thickness, but the task was a bigger hassle with our budget pick, the Silhouette Portrait, which needed more adjustments to get the cutting depth right on cardstock and vinyl. The Explore Air 2’s blade struggled with fabric and felt, but so did those of the Silhouette machines. Only our upgrade pick, the Cricut Maker, handled fabric well. We also liked the replacement blades for the Explore Air 2, and in general we think Cricut’s blades are better than Silhouette’s. The cutting area of the Cricut Explore Air is the same as on the Cricut Maker and the Silhouette Cameo It works with mats that are 1by 1inches and 1by 2inches, sizes that allow you to create full-size iron-on decals for T-shirts, vinyl decals for walls (within reason), and three-dimensional projects such as treat boxes and play masks for kids.
We also preferred Cricut’s customer service over Silhouette’s. You can contact Cricut by phone during weekday business hours, and the company’s online chat is available 24/Silhouette’s chat is available only during business hours Monday through Friday, and as of this writing, the phone number has disappeared from its website. You may never have a question that needs an answer from your machine’s maker, but if you do, you’ll have a better time getting an answer from Cricut.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The Cricut Design software is Web-based, so if you have really patchy Internet, the software might not work very well. The Explore Air also took a few more minutes to draw and cut intricate designs than the other machines we tested, but since it made cleaner cuts than the Silhouette machines, and the software never crashed on us, we didn’t mind being patient.
The Bluetooth also underperformed, with a limited range of a few feet, but we found this to be true with all the Bluetooth machines we tested. It’s just not a great feature. And the Explore Air can’t receive software updates, a new feature Cricut has made available on the Maker in an attempt to increase the machine’s longevity. Eventually the Explore Air will become outdated, though that’s true of lots of equipment (like TVs and sewing machines) that still works perfectly well for years.
Care and maintenance
Close your machine when you’re not using it, so dust doesn’t settle into the cutting area. Wipe any dust or paper debris away from the blade and cutting area with a clean, dry cloth, but only after you’ve unplugged the machine. Cricut recommends using a glass cleaner on the exterior, but do not use anything with acetone. Silhouette doesn’t give cleaning recommendations, but you should be able to follow the same advice with a Silhouette model.
Silhouette estimates that a blade lasts about six months, depending on what you’re cutting (Cricut doesn’t estimate a time for its blades), and cleaning it will help you get the most out of its lifespan. Silhouette and Cricut both have instructions for opening the blade housing to clean it out if the blade isn’t cutting properly. If the machine starts to make a grinding noise, Cricut also has instructions for greasing the machine (the company will send you a packet of grease that it recommends you use).
The cutting mats for all of the machines come with a plastic film to cover the adhesive side. Hold on to these to extend the life of your cutting mats. You can prolong your mat’s life by scraping away any bits of material left on it after a project using a spatula tool (Cricut has one, and so does Silhouette) and making sure to cover the adhesive side of the mat with the plastic film in between uses. Once the adhesiveness has gone, you’ll have to replace the mats. You can find tricks to refresh the mats, but we’ve never tried them.
The Cricut Explore Air and the Cricut Explore One are older models in the Explore line, and we’ve been told that they will eventually be discontinued. The machines are nearly identical, but the Explore Air has Bluetooth and a double tool holder. Both are pretty readily available online but tricky to find in major craft stores. Both use the same Cricut Design software we like, but because of their unpredictable in-store availability issues, and the strong possibility of their being discontinued soon, we can’t recommend them for most people.
Reviews of the Sizzix Eclipswere unimpressive at the time of our research, and it isn’t widely available.
The Pazzles Inspiration Vue has no image library, and we saw that it had very few reviews—which were pretty terrible.
A lot of factors go into considering whether a manual die cutter or digital die cutter (or a combination of both) is best for a scrapbooker. To get the best of both worlds, some crafters choose to invest in both types of die cut machine.
Manual machines are more affordable as an initial investment, but the cost of individual dies for them can make them more expensive to use in the long run. Stampers may love a manual die cut machine for the ease of working with the large variety of dies available that match their favorite stamps. Manual die cut machines also have an ability that digital machines don’t – they can also emboss paper and thin metal using plastic embossing folders. Using steel rule dies, manual machines can also easily cut a huge array of materials.
Digital machines have the advantage of the flexibility of digital – design files can be resized and even modified to fit the design style of the crafter. Digital machines also have the advantage of 24/access to online stores to purchase just the design that you need for the project that you are working on. But digital machines are not as portable as manual machines, especially because they require power to operate.
We’re big proponents of creativity by hand and we encourage crafters to get out from behind their computers and to the table to physically create, by hand, as often as possible. There are many health and emotional benefits of handmade self-expression. For this reason, if you’re truly on the fence, and not sure which type of machine will be best for you, you may want to go with a manual machine. It will keep you off of your digital device and at the creative table longer.
Sizzix Die Cutting Machines
Sizzix offers different sizes for different crafters’ needs. They offer an 8.5” wide machine (the Big Shot Plus) and a 6” wide machine (the Sizzix Big Shot) as part of its line. In addition, the Big Shot line includes the Big Shot Pro, a 13” wide machine. For those who would like assistance with their cutting, Sizzix offers two machines with electric motors instead of cranks, the Big Shot Express and the Vagabond When it comes to accessories, a wide range is available for the Big Shot machines, from magnetic platforms for thin metal dies to a clip on tool caddy. You can view and compare all Sizzix machines to read reviews and more.
Spellbinders’ Die Cut Machines
Spellbinders has the Spellbinders Platinum, which can take dies up to 8.5” wide, and its smaller sibling the Spellbinders Platinum 6, which can take dies up to 6” wide. One of users’ favorite features of the Platinum machines, besides their sturdy steel core construction, is that the machines fold so that they take up less space for easier storage. The Platinum works with steel rule dies or thin metal dies (when used with the accessory Platinum magnetic platform). View and compare all Spellbinders machines and read reviews.
With their feature called PixScan, the Silhouette Cameo and its little sister the Silhouette Curio machine can cut out anything (including stamped designs) that you can take a picture of with your smart phone’s PixScan app. The Curio, despite being a small machine (with a cutting area 8.5” wide), has some powerful features not available in any other digital die cutters – the ability to etch metal and emboss. Both machines are run from Silhouette’s Studio software, with access to its massive online store of cutting files.
Cricut Explore Air
The Cricut Explore Air machine connects via Bluetooth wireless to your computer or iOS device to cut from the company’s Cricut Design Space software. The Cricut Design Space online store gives Cricut Explore Air owners access to purchase designs from a library of more than 50,000 files that include licensed designs from brands like Anna Griffin, Disney, Sesame Street, and more.
The Sizzix Eclips 2
The Sizzix Eclips offers users true scoring for perfect folds and a laser cut preview that offers a sneak peek of the cut for perfect cutting every time. And, it uses the Sizzix eshape store, which is home to designers such as Brenda Walton, Tim Holtz, Sharyn Sowell, and Jen Long. Procedures for using digital cutters can vary immensely because of the complexities of software design, but the general concept is the same for most currently popular models. For most digital die cutters, basic cutting begins by designing and arranging your cut in the machine’s software on a computer or mobile device. Then the material to be cut is placed on a cutting mat, and loaded into the machine’s cutting path. After the material is in place, the machine is activated. Once completed, the cutting mat and material can be ejected from the machine and removed from the mat to prepare the mat for another use.
Size of Output
With digital die cutters, extremely large designs can be sectioned into smaller parts and then pieced together to create huge designs – perfect for creating large signs and wall art. This cannot be accomplished in the same way with a manual cutter. There are some manual cutters like the Big Shot Pro and Big Shot Plus that do create quite large shapes and are worth a second look if you prefer manual cutters.
Cutting Large Volumes
For quilters, or for crafters who do large quantities of duplicate cuts for things like swaps or large events, a manual die cut machine with a steel rule die is the fastest and most cost effective way to cut large quantities quickly. For papercrafters who want to create several copies of a single shape for cards, invitations, or other projects, however, either type of machine will suffice.
Different manufacturers have licenses with different designers to produce content for their machines. Although metal and steel rule dies from most brands can be used with any of the manual machines, this is not the case with digital cutters that use proprietary files. So if you are a Tim Holtz super fan, you may want to consider the Sizzix eclips over the Cricut Explorer Air. Have a kid that is all Disney all the time? Then the Cricut Explore Air is probably your machine. Each machine has its own licenses and its own aesthetic.
Slice Digital Die Cutting Machine.
This Digital Fabric Cutter has a large LCD screen, multifunction buttons and rechargeable batteries.
This lightweight machine is portable and easy to store, as it is quite small.
The machine comes also with an adjustment wrench, a glass mat, foam brush and adhesive.
There is also an user manual, a quick start guide, and an SD card.
The cutting machine has low battery alert, and cuts fabric, felt, oilcloth and vinyl and produces nice fonts and shapes for cards.
An older version of this machine is the
This machine cuts paper, cardstock, vellum, vinyl, acetate, photos and lightweight fabrics up to ½ mm thick.
As it happens, this machine cuts designs in sizes, ranging from 1” to 4” and it’s fully rechargeable. The cutting machine can run around ½ hours and, if it runs out of battery, you can always plug it in.
The machine features a large screen, with a simple menu and tips for embossing and drawing.
This machine won’t cut chipboard or anything thicker than that, and you do need to cut each letter individually, while holding down the slice.
This set contains a basic Shapes Design Card& Design Guide, a glass cutting mat, blades, blade replacement too, blade adjustment wrench, a power cord and adhesive.
You get also a user manual, an applicator brush and the slice cordless design cutter.
The machine is large so you need a room to store it.
Sometimes, the machine does not show the trace and there can happen some material wasting.
Keep in mind to keep the original box or the warranty is void.
For the money, though, this is a great vinyl cutting machine.
When you want to do it almost professionally, the
This machine features a cutter laser point with contour cutting and the speed is around inches tall by 2inches a minute.
When you order this, you get high quality blades, a Grafix weeding tool kit and a Greenstar Vinyl Starter Pack, containing 1rolls of 24”x5yd in most uses colors.
The Greenstar Vinyl Color Guide Booklet that comes along is useful, as are the GreenStar Classic Application tape rolls.
The package contains also squeegees, two magnetic sign blanks, a Design Mini Pack, and a self healing Cutting Mat.
The cutter has year warranty and there is free lifetime phone support on the cutter (even when the warranty has expired).
The Laserpoint helps you contour cut around graphics, has high–precision „steel barbed” axis for greater accuracy cutting.
The digital force and speed are adjustable and you can manually contour cut just as well.
And, if something goes wrong, you can pause cutting and restart thanks to the emergency stop/start feature.
This is not the fastest vinyl cutting machine and you might want to slow it down on thicker materials, but it does a great job for all kinds of other materials and designs.
The machine has an LCD control panel, a dual configuration function, Ethernet ability (you can run several machines from one place) and the option for additional push rollers with tension settings.
This machine automatically detects registration marks with color variants thanks to the ARMS system.
This machine comes in five model sizes, each one of them giving max versatility to applications.
This cutting machine gets you successfully through vinyl media, window tint film, automotive paint protection film, diamond grade media and sandblast resist stencils.
28-inch USCutter Titan Vinyl Cutter with Servo Motor, Stand, Basket Plus Design and Cut Software.
This vinyl cutting machine is for the professional sign makers and do-it-yourself vinyl cutting enthusiasts. You can cut various materials with this ranging from window film, hard paperboard, mask material to sandblast stencil, adhesive and so on.
The included software is easy to use and the illuminated LCD screen and large control panel buttons make it easy to operate this machine.
The force and speed are adjustable by a touch of a button and the digital readout gives precise readings.
The USB interface is MAC and Windows compatible and the machine itself is plug-n-play.
Along with the cutting machine itself you get a floor stand and material basket, blade holder, Titan blades, a pen holder, stand assembly tools, USB cable and free lifetime phone support.
The Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Machine Vinyl Starter Kit Bundle does an amazing job for those of you out there who have just discovered the art of cutting.
The machine comes in a kit that includes software for Windows XP/Vista 7/and Mac, instruction guide, cutting mat, cuttable designs, vinyl trimmer blade, USB and power cable vinyl.
The touchscreen is very responsive and easy to use, looking sleek and pretty at the same time.
The machine is lightweight and it lets you cut even edges off the back of the paper, giving great cut quality.
The paper peels pretty easily off the cutting mat, leaving very little residue after use.
The machine is a bit louder than expected and the mat leaves a slight adhesive feel to the back.
Things to Know When Choosing a Vinyl Cutter Machine
Any new or experienced sign maker faces the reality of finding the best vinyl cutting machine. A high quality plotter can help you make your dreams come true while a bad equipment can only give frustration and failure.
Die cutters work for cardstock and paper but you can cut rubber, fiber, foil, paper, fiberboard, foam and even sheet metal with the tougher models. Even the simple models can cut and emboss, while the more advanced models can draw, print, scan and weld.
A common mistake when buying a vinyl cutting machine is taking the decision simply based on speed, force and price. But things have changed in the last years, and getting the best vinyl cutting machine takes good consideration of many other things: motor, tracking, contour cut image printer, and others.
A vinyl cutting machine has a drive motor that can be either mechanical stepper or servo motor. If the first one is economical but noisy and losing points on precision on small graphics, the second type is smooth, silent, more precise on small paths and great at tracking. It’s almost obvious that the most fit vinyl cutting machines at present have servo motors.
So, you only need to take a look at the drive motors and tracking for you to buy the best vinyl cutting machine (for you!). The reality changes though if you need a plotter that precisely cuts small fonts and tracks in excess every 1ft, then you need to take a look at other things also. You might find out that vinyl cutting machines do other things also and have so many other qualities to think about.
For instance, you need to take a look to the tangential emulation as the full tangential blades lift and rotate at corners so the blade doesn’t bind. The tangential emulation orients the blade direction, giving more precision to the vinyl cutting machine, without any loss in speed or productivity.
Nowadays the cutters need to turn printer images into contour-cut decals so the need for advanced hardware that enables the plotter to optically detect printed registration marks has grown amazingly. The top vinyl cutting machines these days use all of these technologies that require the use of integrated and capable software.
It doesn’t matter if you get the best cutting machine for crafts or the best cutting machine for vinyl: a cutter with ARMS should have a great software for best print and cut graphics results. You should also seek a vinyl cutting machine that has adjustable pinch rollers and a media cut-off feature that lets you begin each job with a clean straight edge, reducing the waste of materials.
Don’t forget to think about the die when you buy the cutting machine and get one that accepts most popular die brands. Versatility is also an important quality of the best die cutting machine for vinyl as it should provide cutouts in the most various sizes.
Take safety into good consideration when getting your cutting machines. They have moving pieces that may cut/pinch, and smaller pieces that are choking hazards for children/pets.
Warranty coverage is also an issue to look for. This warranty may go from six months to three years, depending on the model.
There are four slots on the Silhouette CURIO to hold cutting blades and tips.
Portrait can cut a wide variety of materials including vinyl, htv, paper, cardstock, foil papers, magnet material, rhinestone template, stencil material, contact paper…the list goes on and on and on.
Scoring and embossing and etching on foiled cardstock worked similarly on both machines. It’s tough to photograph this paper, but I was pleased with the results.
Curio’s USB must be connected to the computer where Silhouette Studio is being used to access the embossing and stippling tools – or it has to have been the last machine plugged into the computer.
The Silhouette Curio cut settings windows include two panels for tools – a red and blue – since the carriage can hold two tools at a time for a single pass.
What to look for in a Vinyl Cutting Plotter
Now you know that what kind of machine you need depending on your requirements, but you still don’t know that what different features to look for. Well don’t stress we have this sorted for you, below are some essential features that you should look for.
For every buyer, it is the feature which indeed decides design capabilities regarding size and that what kinds of job you are going to perform. Depending upon the selected model the printing surface varies from a few inches up to a foot for personal level machines. On the other hand, commercial tools give you the range equivalent up to two feet, letting you design larger projects like banner and signage which are often required.
The operating software
All the vinyl cutters which you will find in market work on a predefined software package. Its operation is simple just hook it to your computer, install all the drivers and start designing and cutting via the provided software. The key aspect while looking the cutters is the software package offered, as some of them are pretty easy to understand and work with while some are pretty complicated.
Silhouette Cameo Electronic Vinyl Cutting Machine
Following closely is this vinyl-cutting machine from USCutter. Similar to its larger 28-inch stable mate, it has won the hearts of many users because of its simplicity and seamless operation. The well-designed control panel together with the large LCD display makes adjusting the cutting force, speed or choosing a mode rather easy. It features ABS sides for extra precision and aluminum alloy construction for durability. Moreover, if carrying or moving worries you, you will rest easy since it features a 4-wheeled carriage.
You don’t have to stress yourself cutting vinyl or struggle to adjust the speed, power and pressure. With the 24-inch LaserPoint II cutter, you enjoy simplicity, convenience and a seamless experience. This unit comes with a strong and solid frame for support, a clear and user-friendly blue & yellow backlight LCD and a superior motherboard. The easy to install machine cuts in different ways including contours thanks to the Laser Registration feature and VinylMaster Cut Software. The sad bit is that it is rated 110V and will require a step-up transformer to work in some regions.
Right from its launch into the market, this vinyl cutter and plotter has continued to dominate the industry. It’s a people’s favorite due the two easy-adjust pinch rollers that make it perfect for different materials, and the superior ball-bearing roller mechanism that provides smooth operation. The included VinylMaster Software improves precision and functionality while the Roland compatible holder can accommodate different kinds of cutting blades. Some consumers would have wished if the legs were a bit sturdier.
Designed for light and heavy work, this vinyl cutter should make life less complicated. Not only does it look simple but also makes every operation simple thanks to its good design. The SC vinyl cutter comes in 24-inches and works with a range of cutting blades thanks to the Roland compatible holder. It features 60 and 45-degree blades as well as an ink pen adapter. The laser alignment supports contour cutting while the included VinylMaster Cut & Design Software simplifies the operation. This cutting machine would have ranked higher if it came with a stand.
Like the legendary TITANS, this mighty machine will make cutting vinyl seem rather easy. This is all thanks to the superior design and mechanism that allow smooth and seamless operation. The unit is made of aluminum alloy and can withstand regular use. It comes with solid stands for improved stability, a basket for better functionality and VinylMaster Software for better precision and faster operation. Adjusting the cutting force and speed is easier courtesy of the control panel and the well-lit LCD display.
Brother Vinyl Cutting Machine
The Brother brand is not only known for superior sewing machines but also reliable and effective vinyl cutters. To prove this claim, all you need is to look at the ScanNCut CM100DM. It comes with a built-in in 300DPI scanner that allows you scan anything you desire. The 600plus integrated designs give you a wide choice while the large LCD Touchscreen gives you full control concerning editing, scanning, welding, modifying, resizing and much more. It also comes ready to work and requires no software installation.
If you wish for a powerful, more compact and silent vinyl cutter, then the 24-inch, Graphtec CE6000-60 should be perfect. Although very powerful and suited for heavy-duty use, this unit is relatively light and very portable. It’s a good choice for many applications including sign making, apparel decorators, etching, decals, stickers and much more. It works well on materials such as vinyl, stencil, window film, laminate, card stock and much more. This cutter and plotter is eco-friendly and has minimal impact on the environment.
With your machine, you will receive a standard blade holder, a standard blade, a holder for the deep cut blade, standard and low track mats measuring 1by 1inches, a spatula, and six color pens.
The combination of style and versatility may easily make this the best die cutting machine that suits your purpose. Also, the Sizzix 66042measures about 1¼ by 13/by 5/inches and includes rollers made of solid core steel and gears made of solid steel. The exterior is made of ABS plastic for long-lasting use. A great feature of this flexible machine, also, is that it works well with dies from other brands.
Servo vs Stepper Motors
There are two types of motor options for plasma cutting machines, a servo motor and a stepper motor. Servo motors are of a higher calibre than a stepper motor. A servo motor has an outstanding range of motion and can shift into many positions. It also can inform the controller of its exact location. More restricted in its range of abilities, a stepper motor has a restricted range of motion and fewer position options. Whereas the servo responds to the commands of the controller, there is no way, in fact, to know if a stepper motor has succeeded in what the user requested. Servo motors are traditionally more expensive, and you may not require that level of advancement. The most important thing to remember, regardless of the motor, is which plasma cutting machine will be most beneficial for you and produce high-quality cuts.
It can be overwhelming trying to sift through what makes one cutter costlier than another. One thing to be aware of is that different plasma cutters have different torches. These torches may require maintenance and replacement due to constant wear. The plasma cutting torches have several parts, known as consumables which will break down over time. It is to your benefit to look into a plasma cutting machine which has the fewest number of replacement parts. Fewer consumables mean less cost put towards repairs.
Inquiring about the longevity of these replacement parts will be beneficial. Choosing a plasma cutter with long-lasting parts will be a wise investment. Although it may seem costly up front, it will be worth it financially speaking in the long run. When deciding between machines, take note that some companies will rate replacement parts by some cuts, while others use a different way of measuring.
Whatever your need is, there is one thing that is certain- a plasma cutter is a useful and powerful machine. Keeping all these factors in mind will hopefully help you in deciding which is the best plasma cutter to suit your needs.
Hobart 50056Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter
The preset pressure is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable features, as there are very few plasma cutters which have this. It offers high quality cutting for any project without the controller needing to make any adjustments. Without an additional air-compressor to lug around, this machine could not be easier to transport.
Loaded with numerous smart design aspects and manufactured by a commercial class company, this machine is efficient, easy to use, and reliable. The cooling features located on the torch tip dampen the heat when finished cutting, and the cutting arc is also unique in that it begins with a smaller arc. Not requiring contact with the table, this also you to take advantage of the tips and combustible capabilities.
Although a lower voltage, high-quality cuts are not the least bit sacrificed. Offering clean cuts with exact precision, this robust machine with built in LED alerts has remarkable features and is highly recommended.
Ramsond CUT 50DX Air Plasma Cutter
Looking for a plasma cutter high on quality but low on cost? If so, then the Ramsond CUT 50DX Air Plasma Cutter might be the ideal machine for you. This 4th generation cutter has new and improved internal parts, making it much more sturdy and reliable than its previous ones. Add the fact that it is extremely affordable, and this is a tough bargain to pass up. That being said, if you are looking for a cutter that can handle a heavy workload, you might want to look elsewhere. What this machine offers works best for DIY enthusiasts and those looking for a cutter for household projects.
This plasma cutter has a lot going for it, including easy setup and operation. The torch, however, is not pilot arc compatible, so you must be vigilant in maintaining the proper distance. If cutting up to ⅜”, you can expect precise and clean cuts. Cutting at ½ “ is where you might notice some rougher edges. Therefore, this works best on thinner material, and it is wise not to go beyond ½ inch as that is when the quality begins to suffer somewhat. Lightweight due to the digital inverter technology, this machine is easily transportable. This plasma cutter can also be easily switched between 120v and 220v.
Lotos CT520D Plasma Cutter
The Lotos CT520D Plasma Cutter is quite the impressive machine with a lot in its favour. First, this cutter is unique in that is a in machine capable of tig welding and sticks welding, in addition to basic cutting. At 3pounds, it might not be as lightweight and easily mobile as other models, but the extra feature more than makes up for it. Indeed, having these two welding features added eliminates your need to purchase them separately.
With a maximum thickness cut at ½”, this machine may be somewhat limited in comparison to others. However, the fact that it is dual voltage is a bonus, as it can be utilised with both 110v and 220v. Considering that you can use it for TIG welding makes this plasma cutter one to keep an eye on.
It does need an external air compressor and a foot pedal for can be purchased individually for welding projects. Although not the cheapest of all the plasma cutters out there, when you consider the versatility of this machine, and the fact that it includes a TIG and sticks welder, then the price is more than justified. Easy to use and sturdy, this machine also comes with a simple to use 220v adapter, however, if you are more interested in using it at 120v, you will need to purchase that separately. Although this plasma cutter does not have a pilot feature, it does offer consistently clean and precise cuts at ½”.
If you are looking for a cutter that can do more than cut, then this will be an ideal machine for you. With great versatility, it also offers clean cuts below ½”. Add to it the welding capabilities, and you are looking at a machine of great value.
Laser Cutter Materials
Depending on the type of laser that is utilized, there is a wide range of compatible materials available. With the COlaser cutter, you can use wood, leather, acrylic, glass, plastics, foams, as well as cardboard and other paper materials.
When using fiber or neodymium lasers with higher intensity, the material options expand into metals, more types of plastics, and even some ceramics.
How to Design for Laser Cutting
When creating a design or pattern for laser cutting, you can use either 2D or 3D design software. Laser cutters essentially function like an average 2D inkjet printer but come with drivers that allow the laser cutting machine follow specific designs. While these specific drivers are highly common in 2D design software, there is less support from 3D software.
Laser Cutting Techniques
Vector Cutting: With vector cutting, the laser beam is continuously fired, cutting directly through the material. This technique is solely used for vector graphics and extremely small lines.
Raster Engraving: Contrary to vector cutting, the rastering process burns off only the top layer of the material instead of cutting all the way through it. The design is engraved in a different color, integrating the image within the selected material. To do this, the laser is usually preset to a lower power level. Instead of a high-powered pulsing beam, the laser cutter unfurls finely detailed dots to produce the design without cutting through the material. By managing different dots per inch (DPI), you can control the way the raster effect is produced. This technique works well with wood or leather, but may not work as intended with others types of materials.
Vector Engraving: Meeting in the middle of vector cutting and raster engraving is vector engraving. Also known as “Kiss Cuts,” this method follows vector lines but only cuts into the surface of the material.
Laser Cutting vs. 3D Printing vs. CNC Milling
When it comes to selecting the best manufacturing technology for your application or project, there are many factors the make laser cutting more beneficial than 3D printing. While additive manufacturing is useful for prototyping purposes, the current lack of material properties makes it a tough sell for user-end production. Laser cutting is a subtractive manufacturing technology that cuts away from a material, rather than building a design up from scratch.
But with laser cutting technology, existing materials are able to maintain their mechanical advantages after being cut or engraved. While both are considered go-to tools for rapid prototyping, laser cutters provide more versatility with 2D geometries.
Laser Cutting Services
If you don’t want to splurge on a desktop laser cutter, or just have one project to undertake, you can utilize a laser cutting service bureau. There is a wide range of manufacturing services that offer both 3D printing and laser cutting. Here are some that are best known for the latter.
This service provides over 100 materials to choose from, allowing you to make anywhere from to 100,000 laser cut products, parts, or prototypes. Ponoko also offers same day production and shipping, as well as design templates to ensure your idea is properly executed.
Offers CO2, Neodymium, Fiber, and other custom laser types. As a business unit of the medical component company Amtek, Laserage seems best equipped to take on projects in the medical sector. They also take on aerospace, electronics, and other industrial endeavors. This manufacturing service provides laser welding and drilling services as well.
Even 3D printing service bureaus like Sculpteo now offer laser cutting services as well. With over 60 possible material combinations, the French company claims to work around your workflow and template. If you have an idea that necessitates both 3D printing and laser cutting, Sculpteo is the service for you.
Zmorph 2.0 SX Basic
Targeted for the beginner market, the XYZprinting da Vinci 1.0 1-in-is perfect for those looking to dip their toe into 3D printing and laser cutting technology. Manufactured by the Taiwanese company XYZprinting, this printer is the most affordable option for those hoping to purchase an all-in-one option. The da Vinci 1.0 1-in-is equipped with a laser engraver that allows you to laser cut cardboard, leather, wood, and more. While the printer itself costs €490, the laser engraving module will bring the total cost to around €670.
Vinyl plotters are complicated devices that at times can be difficult to use. They may also occasionally develop technical hitches that would require a technician’s input in repairing it. What you should do is to ensure that the manufacturer’s customer service is outstanding. This will make it easy for you to get the necessary assistance whenever the machine develops hitches.
Cutting blade and vinyl trimmer
This vinyl cutting device is a significant acquisition to have in your home. It is reliable, and the quality of work it gives is outstanding. I would vouch for it considering that it also has extra items included in the kit.
Cricut Explore Air Machine
This is another series of the Cricut brand with exciting features that certainly appeals to any scrapbooking fanatic. If there is one element that makes this model highly regarded in all Cricut models, then it has to be its ability to cut and write up twice the speed of the other models.
The machine is fitted with Smart Set dial which is imperative in assisting you to get the best setting ideal for your specific project. This cutting machine is also compatible with several devices such as a PC, Mac, iPad, or iPhone from where you can be able to create your designs.
The kind of technology that this model exhibits makes it a must have cutting machine in your home.
USCutter 28-inch Vinyl Cutter Plotter
Any beginner that has a fairly big budget will see the value of this model given that it comes inclusively with all the necessary components and software to allow you start on your projects instantly. Considered to be one of the most reliable vinyl cutters in the market, the USCutter plotter has unmatched flexibility given that it has pinch-rollers that are adjustable.
It is fitted with a blade holder that allows the user to save significant amounts of money on the basis of getting access to fairly inexpensive blades to use in the machine. One area that makes this particular model impressive is the fact that you can easily assemble all the tools that it comes with by simply following the kit instructions.
Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
Spatula: The spatula makes it easy to carefully scrape intricate designs off your cutting mat.
Hook: The hook makes it easy to weeding out shapes that are still hanging on to your cut out design.
Fabric Blade: Silhouette machines can be used to cut fabric for sewing projects, too. They sell a blue blade specifically for fabric, but in reality, the only difference between the blue blade and the black standard blade is the color. This ensures you don’t use your fabric blade on paper, or vice versa, but since the fabric blade is slightly more expensive, just buy a regular blade and make sure to mark it so you can distinguish it from your paper blade.
Teach Yourself Adobe Illustrator for Free
Adobe Illustrator has long been the illustration tool of choice for graphic artists. Ready to bring your designs to life? Here’s how you can learn Adobe Illustrator for free.
Read More, there’s a slight learning curve, but once you have the hang of the features – it’s an easy program to use with huge potential. The best way to learn how to use the software is to follow different types of tutorials that use text, images, vectors, and other options.
Some Silhouette Studio specific tutorials to check out include one on how to use the software’s text tool and this list of videos from Silhouette that explain the various features of the software.
The best advice I can give for learning how to use the software is to follow tutorials for specific projects. Some tutorial recommendations are included at the end of this post, and they will give you a good walkthrough on how to use the software for various projects. This is the best way to find out just how much it can do.
How to Convert Any File Format Online with Free Tools
If you need to convert a file, here’s the ultimate list of sites you should turn to.
Once you’ve created the image you want to cut, you will place your material on the sticky cutting mat that comes with the Silhouette and line it up into the machine. The Silhouette comes with a small blade that slots into the machine to cut your shapes.
In the Silhouette Studio software, you can tell the machine what kind of material you’re using and it will guide you on which blade settings you should use. As you get more comfortable with your Silhouette and start experimenting with different materials, you will probably find yourself playing around with these settings to get the best cut. Silhouette’s blade FAQ also has some good tips on understanding how the blade works with different thicknesses.
As you start using your mat, don’t be alarmed at the cut marks in it – that’s completely normal. The blade, however, should never cut clear through the mat.
Duplicators are the most common type of key machine. Manual duplicators allow you to control all functions of copying a cylindrical key. After clamping the original and key blank in the jaws, you apply the Y force against the cutter and the X motion. Different people will use different amounts of Y force, resulting in inconsistent key duplication. A large person usually exerts more pressure (Y force) than a small person.
For partially this reason, the semi-automatic machines have become the standard of the industry. These key duplicators allow you to clamp the keys and release the carriage toward the cutter. After that, a spring keeps a consistent Y force pressure against the cutter. You still control the X movement. Most of us will run through this left-to-right process twice out of habit. This assures us that a thick key with deep cuts is fully duplicated or as the cutter begins to wear, the key will be duplicated to the proper depths.
Fully automatic duplicator machines used to be found mainly in hardware stores either being leased or provided for little or no charge as long as a specific number of keys were cut every month. Many lock shops have them, and they have their place in your lineup. These machines have a fully controlled X motion and Y force. After clamping, a lever or button is pushed, allowing the machine to begin copying. A spring-fed carriage applies the blank against the cutter and a screw or shaft begins the X movement. These machines are usually rather slow and some run through two cycles to be sure the key is fully cut to depth. Some thick keys may need the process repeated.
Duplicators usually use a fixed cutter wheel depending on the application. A milling cutter for duplication of standard keys will be different than one intended to cut slots in flat steel or corrugated keys used for safe deposit boxes or warded padlocks.
Semi-automatic duplicators have the feature of being quick and the advantage of consistency regardless of who is using them. The benefit is that your customer gets a dependable duplicate key time after time.
Code machines may be motor-driven or hand-powered. Computerized code machines have simplified the entire process of generating a first key. Code machines will cut a key to a specific set of cuts, usually provided by an external or internal code source or master key system chart. Code machines can use interchangeable cutter wheels with different profiles or angles, or may use a single cutter that controls cut width and shape by computer.
An ‘extra’ key can be made from a code machine if you know the cuts of the original. Rather than a duplicate key, this actually becomes an original key by code. Code machines have the feature of being versatile and the advantage of repeatable accuracy. The benefit is that you can generate a key to factory specifications every time.
NOTE: A code cut key is usually cut to the original equipment manufacturer’s specifications. A duplicated key is cut to the depths of the pattern key.
While in a somewhat separate category, punch machines are non-motorized code cutters. These bench top machines are powered by pressing down on a handle. This Z-motion forces a punch through the key blade at a depth controlled by a dial or slide. Code clippers are also hand powered by squeezing two handles similar to a pair of pliers. Punch machines use a fixed punch profile to cut keys. Punches can be dedicated to cut one brand of key or may be flexible, allowing you to interchange brand-specific components.
Punches are lightweight and very portable. The benefit is that you can carry it anywhere and create a code key in seconds without electricity.
Tubular machines are made specifically for tubular keys and can fall into the duplicating or code cutting category. Tubular keys come in different diameters and pin positions. Standard tubular keys are.137″ in diameter and utilize seven pins in a circular format. The pins are centered or offset from the 1o’clock position of the tab. Offset left and offset right are still considered standard. Standard tubular duplicators should duplicate left, center and right keys. Other tubular machines may be required to handle other key diameters. Tubular code cutters can be motorized or hand cranked.
The PC+ is a computerized code cutter/duplicator that uses make/model/year to identify the vehicle. The 3100 Key Duplicator is an automatic key machine that can also be used manually. The 2200 Key Duplicator is a semi-automatic key machine that is handle-operated. The 1100 Key Duplicator is a manual. The Curtis No. 1Code Cutter is a hand-held key origination machine for vehicles, motorcycles, and recreational vehicles. The No. 1machine has interchangeable cams and carriages in order to originate keys for most automotive pin and wafer tumbler locks. In addition, Barnes Distribution offers a complete line of vehicle code books.
Jet Hardware, an aftermarket key blank manufacturer, has been marketing key machines for more than 20 years. Jet has six different duplicators. The 70is a basic manual key duplicator, and the 7020 is a basic semi-automatic key duplicator.
The Jet 7060 Ultimate Extra Heavy Duty Semi-Automatic key duplicating machine is designed for commercial/institutional applications where hundreds of keys are duplicated a day. The 7080 Jet Deluxe key duplicator is a combination of a semi-automatic and automatic. The 7090 is a deluxe semi-automatic key duplicator. The 8000 fully automatic key duplicator can be operated manually for special applications. All of these key duplicators are furnished with Msteel high speed cutters for long accurate key duplicating life.
INTRALOCK TOOLS LIMITED
ITL offers three computerized code machines. The ITL9000 has more than 800 built-in manufacturer depths and spaces and works with most popular master key systems. New codes can also be added. It uses a serial port to communicate with user systems. Sealed and pre-lubricated bearings offer repeatable accuracy of 1/1000th of an inch.
An industrial version, the ITL9700 Code Machine features a carbide cutter, and four cut modes. A new Medeco Autoswing head is optional.
The ITL950C is a mobile code machine with over 500 codes built in, including most Domestic, Japanese and Korean codes. It will operate on 12VDC or 120VAC power.
Kaba Ilco Corporation offers more than 3key machines, with choices ranging from the simple to the extreme. The selection of machines was greatly enhanced with the addition of the Silca line.
The popular Bravo III (Photo 15) is a semi-automatic duplicator with four-way reversible jaws and wide spacing between the vise jaws to accommodate long and large headed keys. It has a micrometer-type cutter guide adjustment system and a carriage release button that will only activate when the key gauges are in the down position.
The Nova 2000 (pictures on p. 16) is a basic duplicator for both center-milled and side-milled high security auto keys. It will also duplicate dimple-type keys. Accessory adapters enable the machine to duplicate other high security key types.
The Quattrocode is a computer operated key machine with many automated functions. It can decode a worn sample key, compare it to an on-board database and automatically adjust to factory original lock specifications. Included popular high security code series are stored on-board for cutting keys by code.
17) The BP20is sold in 1versions. Manufacturers supported include Arrow Flexcore, Corbin C70, Dexter/Master, Falcon/Weiser, I/C A2, I/C A3, I/C A4, Kwikset, Schlage (Obverse/Primus/Everest C/ Everest Primus), Schlage Everest B, Schlage Reverse and Weslock. The Blue Punch is a dedicated machine designed to cut factory original keys by code. After clamping, the depth slide provides accurate depths and the carriage advances automatically as the handle is pushed down. These portable, compact hand-powered machines can be operated in a shop, service vehicle or right at the customer’s door.
Rytan Incorporated offers four duplicators and two punch code machines along with a variety of specialized locksmith tools and equipment. The original RY100 universal semi-automatic duplicator is available, and the new RY2000 has been upgraded with the addition of new four-way vises, a new carriage, standard wire brush kit and a new cutter.
The RY25ramm cuts standard and Medeco keys with its tilting head. The RY4manual duplicator, like all Rytan products, is made in the United States.
The new RY2000 Extreme Punch comes in two versions. The RY2000 will accept up to nine different Quick Kits, one at a time. Cut Schlage, Schlage Reverse, BEST I/C, Dexter, Kwikset, Weslock, Weiser, Arrow and Corbin.
The RY2000 Dual Machine is allows you to set up the machine to cut two different manufacturers by simply changing one space bar. A variety of manufacturer combinations are available.
A key machine is an investment. It is a tool that will allow you to make money. Check with your distributor to find out what options are available. Some machines come with a group of free key blanks. Free key blanks are almost as good as cash. Some distributors may be willing to work with you by offering extended dating. There are companies that will allow you to lease or finance a key machine.
This is the only fabric cutter that rivals the precision and accuracy of Silhouette Cameo. Think of at-least 100 different fabric materials that will give way with the sharp edges of Cricut blades. This cutter is fast and smart at the same time with the right technology for transferring and printing designs via Bluetooth.
Whether it’s the German precision blades or the Smart-Set dial at the front of the cutting machine, using the machine doesn’t require extra strength or stress. Just at the push of a button, you are cutting through numerous materials.
You are at wish of buying the Deep Cut Blade of the machine for an immortal precision. However, even without that, you are way ahead of most other fabric cutter in the market.
This fabric cutter should stay right on top of your list if you are in search of a specialized tool to cut your fabrics. This is a deviation from the smaller AccuQuilt cutter you are used to, an electronically controlled cutter.
It may sound like an exaggeration, but you need to see this cutter riding over layers of fabrics without coughing. Built to handle double 6-inch-wide fabrics and at it maximum, 1inches of fabrics.
Desiccant Air Dryer & Filtration Systems
These systems are not inexpensive but can pay for themselves relatively quickly because of the money you’ll save on consumables. They can also improve the overall accuracy of the cuts. This is crucial in many CNC applications, but obviously makes sense for any type of application where clean and accurate cuts are required.
Here is the system we recommend based on our testing. It’s a great value for the money.
It offers much of the same functionality of the Powermax4including an auto re-fire capability that allows for cutting materials like grates and other perforated metals. It also offers quick and secure attachments for the torch, gas, and power.
To be totally honest the comparison eventually came down to price. The consumables for the Miller are slightly more expensive and the unit itself costs a bit more as well. Other than that, it would make a solid addition to any shop.
The controls and operation of the 62X-treme are simple and straightforward. It comes with the XT-40 handheld torch, which has been redesigned to be more efficient than previous models with consumables.
The unit can be switched between 120V and 220V. We didn’t test 120V but would have to assume that cuts made with less power would suffer.
Includes automatic averaging. Takes three readings over a 10-minute period and averages them together automatically so you get the most accurate portrait of your blood pressure.
Dual settings mean two users can store readings. Each user can store as many as 100 readings on the same device simultaneously.
See how your readings compare to normal levels. The device includes a blood pressure level bar. Here you can check your reading against healthy levels.
Detect irregular heartbeats. If you experience an irregular heartbeat while you are checking your blood pressure, the monitor will inform you.
Fits on a wide range of arms. So long as your arm is anywhere from 9-17” in circumference, this monitor cuff will fit you. The D-ring cuff is not a standard blood pressure cuff; it is designed for ease-of-use so that a single person can get an accurate reading without assistance.
Every CNC machine from the lowest cost and smallest to the largest shipyard machine must have some form of the following components.
CNC control. The brains of the entire machine, converts cutting program into electrical signals that direct the direction and speed that the machine cuts at. Also signals the plasma cutter, height control and other peripherals how and when to operate.
Mechanical components. Each machine has to have moving components such as a gantry (long axis), a torch carriage and a Z-axis (up and down) that manipulate and move the plasma torch to produce the cut parts desired.
Fume Control System. Plasma cutting generates a lot of fumes and smoke. Every machine requires either a downdraft fume control or a water table control.
Allows for automatic control of the necessary modes of height for excellent consumable life and cut quality.
Pierce height being correct is absolutely critical to the life and long-term cut quality of the torch nozzle (tip). One pierce too close will permanently affect cut edge angularity, dross, and overall edge quality. Finds the surface of the material and then retracts to the proper pierce height.
Once the pierce height is located accurately, the torch then moves down (after pierce delay timer times-out, allowing for a full pierce) to the proper cut height.
Cut height is critical to cut edge angularity, dross and warpage. Too low will cause plate collisions, too high will widen the kerf, increase edge angularity, and cause dross and warpage.
Once the X- and Y- motion get up to speed (after the height control delay timer times out) the arc voltage feedback control takes over to maintain the proper torch to work distance, controlled by the arc voltage setting.
On Industrial machines the CNC control is basically an industrial grade computer with internal motion and machine control software, and a variety of inputs and outputs that can control all of the drive motors, plasma cutters, height control and any other tools that might be mounted on the cutting machine. This device is definitely the brain of the machine that takes its orders from both the machine operator as well as the CAM (computer assisted manufacturing) software. It converts these orders to perfectly timed electrical signals that control all functionality.
Industrial CNC controls are designed to be extremely robust, living in long-term dirty, rough, and electrically noisy environments. This adds cost and complexity. On most lower-cost CNC plasma machines, a common personal computer or laptop is used as the brains of the CNC control. While these computers (designed for a relatively easy life in controlled environments) would be expected to have issues on a busy production environment, including dirt and dust but also electrical noise interference issues, they do have the capability to run the motion and limited input and output requirements on many small machines, that are equipped with a modern air plasma cutting system. Typically if you see a PC or Laptop controlled CNC plasma machine, it will be of lighter, lower-cost design and construction, ideal for the hobbyist, prototype shop, or even small shops with low production demands.
It is recommended that PC/Laptop-based cutting machines are used only with plasma cutters that use “Blowback” torch starting technology, as opposed to a plasma system that uses high-frequency, high-voltage or capacitive starting. Blowback starting, used on newer technology air plasma systems (originally developed by Hypertherm,) produces a lower level of electrical noise interference and works well with computers.
Of particular importance when choosing a CNC control on any machine is the ease of use of its operating software and human interface. While many lower-technology machines use a standard office keyboard and mouse to control functionality, the higher-end machines have adapted to touchscreen controls, making the operator’s job much more intuitive. Also, look at the different operating softwares that are used on CNC controls. Many are adapted from machining processes such as routing and milling, and are rather clunky when used for plasma cutting. Software and human interfaces that were designed specifically for plasma cutting tend to be much easier to learn and to use on a day-to-day basis.
There are many choices here. Each machine will have moving parts: the gantry or rail axis, the torch carriage or cross axis, and the Z axis (the up down axis used to control torch height). On large industrial machines that are expected to last for decades under shift, highly productive use, expect everything to be heavy, precise and overbuilt – read, expensive. On entry level, low-cost machines, expect all of these same components to be small, lightweight and of much lower construction cost. By using lightweight components on the smaller machines, money is saved in drive motor, electronics, gearing, etc., allowing the system to perform at plasma cutting speed ranges with reasonable accuracy.
Steppers and their associated drive electronics are simpler and lower cost as compared to servos, a primary reason they’re often used on lower cost PC or laptop controlled CNC plasma machines. Servos can be more intuitive for machine operators as they use encoder feedback to the CNC, providing less likelihood of lost positioning on the cutting table in the event of a collision with a tipped-up part, a power failure or other cutting anomalies that can occur.
CAD and CAM Software
Today, there are CAM software packages that do much more than simply “post process” CAD drawings. CAM for cutting applications is often called nesting software, which is used to post process and accurately position multiple different CAD files, in different quantities, to most efficiently utilize the plate of material being cut. Nesting will efficiently rotate and position parts, and often will generate reports involving costing, plate waste and utilization, and much more. CAM software in some systems today also can control and automatically set virtually every cutting parameter, such as arc current, voltages, gas preflow, cutflow settings, cut speeds, cut heights, pierce heights and more, simplifying the machine operators job, limiting scrap and increasing productivity.
On some low cost machines the CAD and CAM software are combined, allowing for a seamless transition from drawing to cutting. This is often seen as a way to allow everyone in the smaller shops to be able to draw and cut parts right at the machine on the shop floor, and effectively makes the learning curve to operate these machines much shorter.
Diecut America, for example, has just launched a digital die cutter called the Digital Flexible Cut. However, according to Nick Crabtree, vice president of Diecut America, it is targeting short run, fast turnaround applications, such as print-on-demand greeting cards, rather than the packaging industry.
And this is the fundamental limitation with the digital units that exist – they are essentially prototyping tools that do not meet the demands of the majority of packaging projects.
Conversion-UK’s Nixon puts typical output on the Euclid at 1000 Bsheets per minute. He admits that an analogue die cutter/folder gluer would be able to double this speed, but argues that on runs of up to 10,000, once set up and makeready times are taken into consideration, the Euclid will complete the job more quickly than even the fastest conventional machine.
One issue it has addressed is that of registration accuracy through AutoRegister, a system which carries out the registration of the sheet to the image, thus ensuring highest register precision in cutting, creasing and finishing digitally printed sheets.
In 2008, Kama also launched the world’s first flat-bed die cutter for Aformat, the ProCut 53, with features that Kama says make it very suitable for short digital runs: a strong press section reduces the need for time-consuming patch-up and the smaller format helps too. It is possible to change over die cutting jobs in less than five minutes and change from hot foil stamping to die cutting in minutes.
At present Kama is launching a system which performs the stripping and blanking of folding carton boxes and other products in-line with its die cutting machines, without any tools. “Avoiding tools is one of the key factors for the digital workflow – fixed costs and downtime must be kept as low as possible in order to minimise total cost of ownership on small runs,” explains Tralau.
Kama now has several digital print installations in the packaging market in Europe and Asia with the Xerox iGenand has recently installed two finishing units in the US, completing the workflow with the new HP Indigo 10000/30000 digital printing presses.
He also points out that to an extent, processes such as die cutting and folding and gluing already include a digital element in that many of the parameters of the job are stored in the machine’s control system – such as the Bobst Cube – to enable their retrieval for the setting of drives, pressures, guides and interleaves when the job runs.
The fact that long print runs still dominate in the packaging industry probably also explains why manufacturers of analogue finishing equipment aren’t exactly clamouring to develop a raft of digital alternatives.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your electronic cutting machine wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of electronic cutting machine
- №1 — Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine
- №2 — Silhouette Portrait 2
- №3 — Cricut 2003782 Cuttlebug Die Cutting & Embossing Machine