We have put together an overview of cutting plotters with a working area of about 1 metre in length and width.
Compact plotters are designed for line and shape through-cutting, punching, creasing and die-cutting. Plotters are used for the production of advertising, printing, POS materials and packaging in small runs.
These machines do not take up much space and can be installed on a table or a special stand. All are sheet-fed, however Graphtec offers the option of a roll-fed version.
The flatbed plotters have two types of pressure: electrostatic and vacuum. Only two of the Graphtec models in this review come with an electrostatic table, the others with a vacuum table. In the latter, the compressor is not built into the body, but stands next to it, which causes noise during operation. This is avoided by acoustic mufflers, such as those offered by Intec.
The carriage holds one or two tools. In addition to cutting blades, creasing blades or marker holders are installed in the plotter, so that the machines can crease or draw at the same time as cutting.
The cutting blades are selected to suit the properties of the materials. The flüger cuts paper and most foils down to 1-2 mm. Depending on the angle of sharpening, the knives process different materials: 30° for paper, self-adhesive, vinyl film; 60° for thicker and thicker films, thin rubber; 45° standard knife for normal and thin self-adhesive vinyl and masking films.
The tangential knife is suitable for cutting small parts, processing thin films and working with thick cardboard, rubber and imitation leather. Optionally, a special oscillating tool can be fitted, which is suitable for thicker sponge and foam materials, such as corrugated cardboard and foamed cardboard.
Most plotters have digital cameras that read reference marks, barcodes and QR codes. The software finds the cutting file linked to the code and automatically starts the job. The software also monitors the correctness and accuracy of the cut.
British manufacturer Intec supplies the Intec ColorCut FB series of compact flatbed plotters for cutting and creasing. The machines are suitable for sample making, packaging, card and label cutting. The range includes four units handling SRA3 to B1+ sheets.
In this selection we focus on two machines: the flagship Intec ColorCut FB1175 and Intec ColorCut FB750, which supports all basic functions. They differ in table size, knife pressure, working speed and material thickness.
The Intec ColorCut FB750 cuts B2-size sheets or sheets up to 475×670 mm and has an effective cutting area of 456 x 640 mm. It can perform two operations at the same time as the carriage is fitted with holders for two tools. The knife pressure is up to 1kg, which allows you to cut and die, crease and perforate materials up to 600 microns in thickness. The plotter operates at speeds of up to 600 mm/sec.
The Intec ColorCut FB1175 is the flagship of the range. The worktable accommodates B1+ or 800 x 1,100mm sheets, with a maximum cutting size of 750 x 1,095mm. The advanced dual tool cutting head provides up to 1200 g pressure on the knife and 1500 g pressure on the creasing tool. This makes the machine capable of handling paper and cardboard up to 1000 microns, or 1.2mm thick. It is one of the fastest machines, processing materials at speeds of up to 1200 mm/s.
Intec machines are sold with special ColorCut Pro software which accounts for misalignment or sheet positioning errors of up to 5mm, allows the setting of QR codes and registration marks, cutting with or without registration marks. When “Productivity Mode” is enabled, the plotter can handle multiple smaller sheets. After cutting on the first sheet, the machine will automatically find the next one and start processing it. If there are mixed jobs on the table, the machine automatically counts the code, finds the required cutting file and starts working. There’s no need for the operator to make any manual adjustments.
Both models are fitted with a stand by default and an acoustic muffler is also included for silent operation of the vacuum compressor.
GD 500/700 Cutting Plotter
The Gulmen Digital GD500/700 flatbed is equipped with a 495mm x 685mm vacuum knife table. The knife pressure reaches 600g. The unit operates at a speed of 700mm/s and cuts paper, self-adhesive materials up to 1-1.5mm thick. It can read marks from 5mm on coloured and transparent materials in 3 seconds, reducing production costs and increasing productivity. Vulcan also starts cutting by barcode and QR code. Tools (vane knife, nib, creasing nozzle) and a stand are supplied with the plotter.
Graphtec flatbed plotters
The compact machines are Graphtec FCX4000-50, 60 and Graphtec FCX2000-60VC. They differ in speed, knife pressure and working area. The FCX4000-50 and FCX4000-60 operate at speeds of up to 750mm/s over a 660mm x 488mm and 976mm x 660mm working area respectively. Blade pressure is up to 600g. The FCX2000-60VS operates with a 610mm x 920mm plotter window, a cutting speed of up to 400mm/s and a knife pressure of up to 1kg. All models have two tools, cutting and creasing in one pass.
The FCX4000-50 and FCX4000-60 are equipped with electrostatic clamping. The machines cut paper, cardboard, magnetic vinyl, electro cardboard and adhesive films up to 2mm thick. The FCX4000-50 is table top mounted, a stand is available as an option for the FCX4000-60.
The compact, vacuum-attached FCX2000-60VC plotter is equipped with its own stand and roll holder. Processes magnetic vinyl, cardboard, paper, reflective film, micro corrugated cardboard, foam board up to 10mm. Seven blades are supplied with the machine. For safe operation the plotter has an emergency stop button which switches the machine off.
Valiani cutting plotters
Two compact models from Italian manufacturer Valiani Optima V50 and Valiani Invicta 80. Both machines are positioned as entry-level devices for small runs. They differ in the size of the working area: Optima is equipped with a working area of 550 x 880 mm, Invicta 820 x 620 mm.
Both plotters process sheets at a speed of 500 mm/sec. They are equipped with a single tool carriage with magnetic clamps. Depending on the selected tool, the devices can cut materials up to 5mm thick with a tangential cutting tool, or up to 20mm thick with an oscillating knife. The V-Studio software package, together with the cameras on the carriages of the plotters, allows the reading of the marks and cutting by print, starting the cutting by QR-code.
The machines are equipped with vacuum clamping, Invicta also has a system of pneumatic clamps on the edges of the table to hold the materials in place. The machines work with corrugated and thick packaging cardboard, vinyl sheets, leather, fabric, PVC and foam.
DLD 320 Digital knife label cutter
DLD 320 Digital knife label cutter is Automatic via user HMI Cutting in a Reel to Reel format. Engineered with smooth operation, quick set up, user friendly operation. Equipped with 2 Plotter Knife cutting heads – standard Optional 4 head cutter station. The 4-cutter head option system is a game changer, increasing the speed up to 50% when die cutting. The machine is able to Plot Cut accurately within microns, matrix waste removal, slit, count and finish off labels on a 76mm reel. The machine is equipped with a slitting reel to reel function when needing to use the machine as a slitter rewinder.
The machine can plot cut accurately within microns, matrix waste removal, slit, count and finish off labels on a 76mm reel, making the entire finishing tasks easier and complete. It is also equipped with a slitting reel to reel function when needing to use the machine as a slitter rewinder. The unwind reel is air expandable and suitable for core chuck up to 76mm diameter. This characteristic means that once the unwind mechanical clutch it is set no extra adjustments are required.
Ruizhou cutting equipment
The Chinese company Ruizhou manufactures several series of flatbed cutting plotters. The RZCAM series cuts materials up to 2mm, the RZCR series cuts cardboard, fabric, and other materials up to 50mm other plotters in the selection do not work with such thick materials.
The RZCAM series consists of 14 models, the most compact RZCAM5-0906A with a 900mm x 600mm working area. The dual tool carriage holds the vane knife and marking pen. A creasing tool can be installed if required, the basic plotters in this series only cut and draw. An oscillating knife is not fitted. The machines have a speed of up to 1200 mm/s and tool pressure of up to 2000g. The plotters are equipped with a vacuum table and laser pointer for positioning. Optionally a CCD camera can be installed for cutting through the printed image.
The RZCRT series handles materials up to 50mm thick. The smallest model, the RZCRT5-1007E, with a cutting area of 1000 x 700 mm, operates at 1200 mm/s. It comes with an oscillating knife and creasing tool as basic equipment. The RZCRT comes equipped with a CCD camera for cutting on print, a security system with optical and contact sensors. The plotters can be optionally equipped with static or conveyor vacuum tables.
There are a large number of small cutting plotters on the market from various manufacturers. The diversity of the offered tools allows the machines to be used for the processing of different materials: from paper to foam board. Such devices are suitable for the production of packaging, templates, stencils, advertising and souvenir products.