The Emergence of Laser Diecutting
The hi-tech technology is beginning to make headway in the diecutting industry, but it won't replace mechanical cutting methods altogether.
THE DIECUTTING PROCESS is centuries old. While the equipment has progressed through the years, the basic method has remained the same—until now.
Laser diecutting has made a splash at many trade shows around the world in recent years, as companies such as AB Graphic International and LasX Industries, Inc. market new laser diecutters, and HP and Mark Andy add the technology to their presses. Traditional mechanical methods of diecutting will never die out due to laser cutting's growth, but the newest equipment offers a host of benefits that are worthy of attention.
Laser diecutting is beginning to emerge as a viable, attractive alternative to mechanical diecutting methods—including platen and rotary diecutting. However, these traditional means of cutting have proven more than effective in cutting any kind of material used in packaging at speeds that bring smiles to the faces of converting and printing shop owners. They've proven their worth in design capabilities, too.
"Very complex shapes don't seriously reduce press speeds like [it does with] lasers," said Michael Bittner, an associate of Kocher + Beck USA, who represents several different machine manufacturers.
Platen and rotary diecutting methods are also efficient for medium to long runs. This was a major advantage a few years ago, but as the demand for short-run package printing jobs increases, so does the demand for a diecutting technology that is better suited for such performance requirements.
Enter: laser diecutting. Laser diecutting may be a few years off from industry-wide acceptance, but its innate capabilities are seemingly well-suited to today's changing package-printing industry. For starters, since laser diecutters require no die inventory, short runs can be cost-justified, Bittner said.
In addition, he said, "Same-day digital production often necessitates laser cutting. [And] short runs can be gang run more practically."