Rules of the Game
Automated rule processing bends the traditional rules associated with diemaking.
By Chris Bauer
For Many facets of the printing industry, automation is the name of the game. And when it comes to rule processing equipment, automation seems to be par for the course for many suppliers' offerings. But with all the automation and bells and whistles available on today's rule processing units, it is the simple rules of diemaking that remain the most important.
"If nothing else, it should be accurate," contends Ellen Adams, co-owner of Adams Technologies. "The lengths are the most critical of all. If you have a piece of rule and it is the wrong length and the bends are in the wrong place, you've got a piece of junk. That is the bottom line." Whether a machine cuts, miters, or has other options are all just bonus features, she says. Currently there are two types of rule processing units marketed worldwide. According to Dale Kengott, president of Ken Technologies, most of Europe and small parts of the United States prefer to process the rule first in one machine, which performs the functions of cutting, notching, and mitering, and then send it and its cad file to another machine for angle or contour bending. These "bending machines" are not automatic, since double-handling is required to finish a section of knife.
On the other hand, he continues, the majority of the American market believes automatic means the machine must perform both processing and bending functions. "Because of these two differences, competitors producing these two types of machines have only marketed their products successfully in the region whose beliefs match their product," Kengott explains. "This has limited competitors in each region, and according to some schools of thought, it has slowed some of the potential research and development that could have propelled this technology further along than it currently is today."