Technology has made it easier for companies to work on projects, leading to them spending more time on the creative part of their business. One of these technological advancements is cutting tools that can be used for either flat die-cutting or rotary die-cutting.
The main aspect differentiating between the two types of cutter lies in how they are fed into the machine. A rotary die cutter requires that material is fed through a cylindrical tube, while a flatbed die cutter uses suction technology to hold down material and allow an individual (or machine) with knife-like precision, cut through tough materials like laminates, rubbers, foils, and leathers. Furthermore, the flat bed die cutting process allows the material to be placed on top of a flat, stationary table. On the other hand, a rotary die cutting machine has an arm that is constantly rotating and picking up pieces of material with knives mounted on it. It is then fed into a tube and cut according to the contours of the tooling plate (metal plate which encases the design).
With flatbed technology, one can use any sheet materials that are capable of supporting their own weight without sagging or warping under pressure. A vacuum table creates negative air pressure below the work area, so it pulls down on the material itself for stability purposes. Once loaded onto a flat surface, rolls can be added via lengthwise lanes along each side of the table, creating more even pressure against all sides. With this method, one can also cut thicker substrates like chipboard, leathers, rubber, and vinyl.
Here is a step by step procedure on how the flatbed die-cutting technology works:
1. The operator feeds the material into the die-cutting machine that will be used to cut through it. In addition, the operator needs to set up the machine with the type of die that will be used.
2. The operator sets up a job file on the computer and enters data like material thickness, cut allowance, scale factor, etc., together with some die information like tooling material, etc., before inputting it into an interface of an electric cylinder.
3. When all this is done, the die cutting machine takes in material (flatbed) or through a cylindrical tube (rotary). At this point, one end is securely held while the other end is continuously fed forward towards the blade unit. Once it gets to it, pressure is applied onto the material through suction pads that act as vacuum cups which suction force can be adjusted. As soon as it gets to this stage, the cutting process begins.
4. Both rotary and flatbed die cutters use blades that are attached to an electric cylinder (rotary) or a blade unit (flatbed). At first, the material presses up against the blades, but once they start moving, no more pressure is applied since suction pads give way for them. The blades move forward at high speed, creating cuts that are accurate within 1/1000th of an inch tolerance. For certain materials like rubber or neoprene that require greater softness on dies, water is used, which keeps the temperature low enough so no damage will occur on dies due to heat during the process.
5. The results of the cuts made can be observed on the retracted part of the material. Since it is retracting, if any small pieces remain uncut at their edge, they can be cut out manually.
6. The material is now cut through and only needs to be separated from the excess material which has been trimmed off. This is where a knife-like blade comes into play. It cuts along the design line, separating both parts successfully with minimal effort being put in by the operator.
7. The completed sheet of parts can now be observed clearly since all that remains now are just individual sheets separated according to their designs/cuts made earlier, minus any waste materials that were previously trimmed off by machines or thermoformed tools.
8. Die-cutting projects like this can now be used as parts for making toys, book covers, cabinet doors, etc.
Finally, flatbed and rotary die-cutting technologies use suction to hold down materials during the cutting process. The main difference between the two is that flatbed dies are held down by suction pads that look like tiny vacuum cups, while rotary dies require a cylindrical tube as they cut through the material. Material such as laminates, leathers, rubber, and foils can be cut efficiently with this technology, plus it makes for highly accurate cuts since blades move forward at high speeds without leaving any room for errors during the process, making projects easier to accomplish. Therefore, flatbed die-cutting technology is more suitable for small production runs since it’s less expensive to set up and the quality of finishes is great.