What does a flatbed cutter do?
Flatbed cutters are designed to automate the process of cutting various substrates, such as card, vinyl and plastic. Through automation and CAD software, it reduces the amount of labour required whilst greatly increasing productivity and cutting precision.
They’re extremely useful for companies or individuals involved in the design or manufacture of many products, including carton mock-ups and signage. Finished products could include vinyl letters for wall graphics, pop-up displays and event signage, or even 3D logos and office interiors. Given their great utility, we can certainly see why people would be looking for reviews.
What’s special about a flatbed cutter?
The thing that makes flatbed cutters so valuable to these companies or individuals, is their unrivalled precision and speed. The user is able to design and send the digital file to the cutter to accurately cut, crease or route a design. It transforms the design from a drawing to precise cut pieces much quicker than by hand. The user can replicate the design and finished product, however many times they want!
Furthermore, most flatbeds offer a range of tools/bits and blades for cutting multiple materials. Depending on the cutting heads that are available with the flatbed, you could cut the same paper design into vinyl, foam or even wood!
Most manufacturers offer a range of equipment from entry-level series all the way up to the high-end models. You’re also able to acquire them in varying sizes, depending on what the requirements are.
The Swiss company Zund makes a range of smart and sleek-looking cutters. We’re particularly interested in its compact and economical S3 model. The entry-level S3 comes in various sizes, but each size has one of three distinct widths. The medium is 1330 mm, large is 1800 mm and XL is 2270 mm. Despite compactness being its main selling point, there is no size small option.
Fast and accurate drive system
The Zund S3 flaunts a faster cutting experience. With an intelligent software system it’s able to perform at fast speeds whilst retaining full control of its movement, ensuring a precise cut.
Adaptable and multi-functional
Can cut multiple materials in one job
With this model, you can swap and change tools with a wide range of different modules for different purposes. You’re able to equip the flatbed with tools for cutting, routing, perforating and marking. The S3 can hold up to two tools at any one time. Depending on the workload and the diversity of the work you perform, this could be insufficient.
Like the Summa F-Series, the Zund range also offers the Tandem Operation feature. Once again, this is a manual process without extra machinery, but having this facility means that faster production is always possible, provided the job is only half the size of the flatbed.
Automatic tool initialisation
The S3 also has the ability to adapt to various material depths. This automated system feature enables the cutter to determine the cutting depth required dependent on the material beneath the cutting tool. This means that the S3 is able to perform cuts in materials of varying thickness throughout the same run. The indicator on the machine is designed to flash red or green depending on whether it’s set up correctly.
Materials on the Zund flatbed cutters are held in place by a generated vacuum. Zund claims that the vacuum used is energy efficient and also adjustable across the width of the machine.
What we like about the Zund S3
With the Zund S3, you’re able to combine the best elements of the Summa and JWEI models. The Summa provided increased productivity through simultaneous action with its tandem mode. On the other hand, the JWEI model allowed a continuous feed of material to keep the work flowing without much manual intervention.
The Zund takes both of these ideas and combines them through the use of automation. Whilst not included with the cutter, it is compatible with a robot add-on from Zund. This robot is able to automatically place and pick up multiple items at once and then stack them neatly after job completion. What’s even better is that it does this whilst the cutter is working on the remaining designs, ensuring the machine is always in operation until the full job is done.
No real drawbacks with this top-end cutter.
This is a real contender for your cutting requirements. Due to Zund’s reputation for reliability and longevity to cut accurately, the investment is certainly worth it in the long run.
Summa F-Series Cutter F3232
The Summa F3232 is one of the latest cutters from Summa as part of their F-Series. F, we’re guessing, stands for flatbed, since their L-Series are all laser cutters. Unlike the L-Series, the F-Series is entirely focused on physical cutting and comes with a tool for each possible application.
The Summa F-Series flatbed cutters are available in numerous sizes, starting at 160 x 120 cm up to 327 x 320 cm. The F3232 is the largest of all the F-Series range and will provide you with the most working space.
The F3232 boasts an unbeatable contour cutting accuracy and comes with 8 cutting tools and 2 different drag modules.
Summa F3232 Features
We mentioned that the Summa F3232 comes equipped with 8 cutting tools and 2 drag modules. What makes this even more interesting is the ability to equip the flatbed cutter with up to 3 of these tools at once. If you’re working with multiple materials, of varying thickness and rigidity, this is especially useful and a welcome boost to productivity.
A vertical force of 10 kg
This flatbed cutter’s tangential module offers a vertical force of 10 kg, making it extremely powerful and capable.
The F3232 comes equipped with pneumatically-driven clamps that will firmly hold the material down on the flatbed, whilst still allowing for the conveyor system to work properly.
Summa’s F-Series cutters are equipped with built-in cameras that enable users to scan a job’s unique barcode. It will match the barcode with the specific cutting pattern associated with it, meaning it can quickly run different jobs, one after the other.
Especially designed for kiss-cutting and cutout tools, the F3232 comes with an F-Performance Mode, which speeds up the cutting by up to 40%. This is ideal for when results are needed faster with the same precision. It’s likely that other tools for thicker materials will not be able to benefit from this.
The Summa F-Series flatbed cutters come with a safety pack. Four posts emit laser beams which create a perimeter around the cutter and pause any machinery when the beam is crossed.
What we like about the Summa F-Series
Our favourite feature from Summa is the tandem mode feature. This allows the flatbed to be divided in half and used for 2 jobs one after the other. Whilst one cutting job takes place, the operator is able to replace the previous job with a new sheet of material. It avoids idle periods and saves time between cutting jobs.
With the F3232, there’s no automatic feed option for the tandem mode feature. In their demonstration video, it’s clear that you have to manually line up and replace the material after each job is complete, requiring constant vigilance.
This JWEI series is specially designed for stickers, labels, folding cartons and other materials of similar thickness and rigidity. It can also be used for creating media related prints and cuts. It’s designed especially for on demand or short-run production, rather than large projects such as with the Summa F-Series.
This JWEI model prides itself on its automated features and continual workflow and proves to be a cost-efficient model.
The JWEI is equipped with a camera that is used to precisely plot and crease. Unlike the Summa, the JWEI is not able to read barcodes and switch jobs instantly.
Multiple cutting functions
The LST-0604-RM is able to perform a variety of different cuts and creases during the same job. It has 2 tool holders fitted, one to hold a creasing wheel and the other to hold various knives. It’s capable of through cutting, kiss-cutting, creasing and plotting.
Special tungsten carbide blades
The blades and wheel are made from a tungsten carbide. This metal is especially tough and offers superior longevity to standard blades.
The JWEI benefits from a vacuum clamp that holds the material firmly in place. Whilst this is active, the flatbed cutter is able to perform its task without the worry of the material being unstable, misaligned or moved.
The model has a touch screen interface attached to it. This is useful for taking any immediate actions an operator may need to take but doesn’t offer advanced controls or space for a computer.
What we like about the JWEI Model
The best thing about the LST-0604-RM from JWEI is its capacity for a continuous workflow. With a feeding mechanism the material can be loaded on to the flatbed, cut and then passed along to be stacked to make room for the next. At the feeder side, the material can be stacked up by the operator and left to run until the job is completed. The stacks platform automatically adjusts so that the cutter can easily retrieve the next sheet of material.
There is an option within the computer software to select how many copies of a design you want to produce. Once you’ve entered the figure, you can leave the cutter to its job. We like it because it’s automated and efficient and requires no manual intervention until the job is complete.
The major drawback is that, according to JWEI, the maximum cutting depth is 1.5mm and the sheet size is small. This model is ideal for individuals working with only thin and small materials such as paper or carton but doesn’t offer the versatility that other flatbeds offer in their ability to cut deeper and larger sheets. Cutting materials such as plastic and wood would require a different flatbed cutter altogether due to the limited modules available.
The Dyss X7, manufactured in South Korea, is available in a wide range of sizes with its maximum being as wide as 3.2 metres and as long as 4.6 metres – certainly the longest flatbed cutter in this review. The Dyss X7 is primarily intended for the packaging industry, and is especially designed for cutting corrugated board, folding box board, display board, Correx, foam and honeycomb structural design boards. It’s also capable of cutting aluminium, PET and polypropylene plastics, offset coatings blankets and flexo plates.
The Dyss X7 boasts affordability, with cutters costing between £50,000 and £100,000 mark, dependent on the tool configurations. With competitively placed pricing, the extra length and the ability to cut through deep material, we can see why the Dyss X7 is a popular choice.
Dyss X7 Features
Fully automatic alignment
This Dyss model uses registration dots on the corner of each design to determine the cutting area.
The X7 is compatible with 10 different cutting tools and it’s able to equip up to three tools at once. This means that the X7 can take on multiple tasks within the same job.
The cutter also has a 1kw router used for the precise cutting of acrylic, wood, aluminium and other similar materials. Combined with the different cutting tools on offer and the triple head, it appears to be able to cut through most sheets regardless of material.
Heavy duty capabilities
The Dyss X7 can be fitted with a specialist creasing tool that can achieve cuts of up to 150mm deep. When the tool is equipped, the cutter is capable of 48 kg of downward force! This is almost 5 times more than the Summa F3232 which only offers 10 kg of force.
4.6 metres long
The longest model available is 4.6 metres long, allowing for more material to be cut at once. In addition, the flatbed cutter can be accompanied with an automatic roll feed and conveyor system that can accommodate even larger cutting jobs if required.
What we like about the Dyss X7
The Dyss X7 is able to handle a variety of materials. It’s versatility and affordability make it great for small businesses that are perhaps looking to expand their product range and capabilities.
The K-Cut software for the Dyss X7 proves to be intelligent. Using a camera, it records and detects printing and media distortions and then calculates and executes the adjustments required. This maintains a precise cut and results in reduced waste. K-Cut software also provides the option to build a library of tool and speed combinations for the varieties of materials the Dyss X7 can handle.
The cutter also recalculates after every job is complete in order to compensate for potential changes in the position and rotation of the new material.
The intelligent software, whether it’s the K-Cut camera system or the KASEMAKE software is an additional option. One of Dyss’ main selling points is that the camera software is able to reduce costly mistakes and labour costs, but you aren’t able to fully benefit from this without buying the software separately on top.
Each flatbed cutter has its benefits and drawbacks. The Zund S3 is the fastest and most accurate of these cutters. If you want full functionality, it would be worth buying a different Zund model altogether like the Zund G3 series.
For more information on any of these models or manufacturers, please feel free to contact our experts.