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Need To Know


With more print businesses bringing finishing in house in an effort to maximise revenue and profit, Rob Fletcher looks at how investment in a new guillotine can help boost income

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Making the cut

While previously regarded as something of an afterthought, finishing is now big business for print companies, offering a whole host of opportunities to create additional income and add new revenue streams.

It is for this reason that an increasing number of print-service-providers (PSPs) are bringing finishing in house, thus cutting down on outsourcing costs and taking full control of this process.

Guillotines are a core part of the finishing process and, as such, should form part of almost any print finishing setup. Here, we look at some of the latest entry-level machines available to the market, as well as more advanced technology for those PSPs seeking to enhance their established finishing department.

New opportunities

First up, Morgana offers a range of guillotine solutions at both entry level and advanced products. Ray Hillhouse, vice president of sales and marketing for the Plockmatic Group Offline Business Unit, says a guillotine is an essential piece of equipment for the majority of businesses involved in print.

“A guillotine allows users the opportunity to buy their chosen substrate at the optimum price by buying larger sized sheets and trimming them down to a preferred printing size – possibly cutting down from A2 to A4 sheets,” Hillhouse says.

A guillotine allows users the opportunity to buy their chosen substrate at the optimum price by buying larger sized sheets and trimming them down to a preferred printing size

“Beyond the basic cost cutting exercise, the guillotine opens up a whole raft of print work that might require an image to bleed off the edge of a sheet. This requires over-sized sheets and an accurate trim to remove the excess paper after the printing process.”

As to what print companies should look for in a guillotine, Hillhouse advises investing in a machine from a trusted brand, citing the old adage “buy cheap, buy twice!”

“We have worked with a great many printers who have initially selected the cheaper option, only to swiftly regret it,” Hillhouse says, adding: “Regular breakdowns, poor service, or simply cheap components or materials in the build of a guillotine have let them down. The cheapest option is rarely the best.

“From a safety aspect the inclusion of a light-beam guarding the front table area is a critical feature in any modern machine. If the beam is broken the cut either cannot be started, or will stop immediately if a cut is in process.

“The ability of the machine’s operating system to store and retrieve multiple cutting programs is often a standard feature. This allows for frequently used cutting sequences to be recalled at a moment’s notice, saving both time and, hopefully, errors.”

Looking at what Morgana has on offer, Hillhouse says while the 55cm EBA 5260 has proved extremely popular, recent years have seen more customers choose to invest in the larger 66cm and 72cm models due to digital print manufacturers moving to larger sheet sizes and promoting long sheet applications.

Morgana’s latest, entry-level-type solution comes in the form of ‘THE 56’ from EBA, which has a 15.6” multi-touch control screen, a cutting width of 56cm with a stack height of 8cm.

“This provides for increased operator efficiency and productivity by working smarter from the tablet-like display,” Hillhouse says, adding: “The machine incorporates an electro-mechanical precision blade drive and hydraulic clamp drive [patent pending], along with an IR (infrared) light beam safety curtain.

In terms of more advanced solutions, Morgana supplies the Mohr range of machines, which are heavier duty and available with 56, 66 and 80cm cut sizes. Hillhouse picks out the 66cm model as the most popular with customers, though many features are the same across all three machines.

Morgana supplies the Mohr range of machines, available with 56, 66 and 80cm cut sizes. Pictured: the D56 PLUS model

“All three sizes are supplied in either ECO or PLUS models: the ECO model is controlled by a 5.5” touchscreen, whereas the PLUS model is controlled by a colour 18.5” touchscreen, which also shows job visualisation, taking the operator through each step in the cutting process,” Hillhouse says.

“The PLUS models can also be equipped with a barcode-reading capability, delivering the desired cutting programme by reading from a barcode added within the trim of the printed job. “

Taking control

Next, Terry Cooper Services (TCS) offers a range of finishing solutions to industry, including guillotines. Chris Cooper, director of TCS, says that every PSP and print finisher should have their own guillotine in house, explaining that outsourcing the cutting process has logistical problems, while businesses also lose control of the job.

“The guillotine is one of the most overlooked machines in any workshop; it is only when it breaks down that they start to realise how important the guillotine is to their business,” Cooper explains.

“Technology has clearly moved on with other print and print finishing equipment, yet the guillotine seems to be labelled as a simple machine with only three moving parts: clamp, knife and the back gauge positioning table. This is not the case; the guillotine process has plenty of features and benefits to help with a more efficient throughput of the cutting process.”

TCS offers three levels of guillotine to suit different market sectors and customer’s needs. For those looking to purchase their first guillotine, Cooper says that the entry level Grafcut machines offering cuts from 52cm to 73cm cut would be a good choice.

“These machines come with a choice of fully hydraulic or electric clamp and knife cycles with colour touch screen back gauge control systems,” Cooper says.

The next level of guillotine from TCS are the Challenge Titan models, which range from 50.8cm cut to 77.5cm.

“Challenge has been making guillotines for over 150 years and its latest models come with TC Control and network capability to enable the user to program the guillotine offline then send files to the guillotine for the operator to use,” Cooper says.

“‘Barcode ready’ Challenge Titan cutters with the TC control system can add an optional barcode reader to run multiple production jobs quickly and efficiently. Once the job arrives at the guillotine simply scan the printed barcode on the job and the cutting program will instantly load into the machine.”

In terms of a higher-end solution, the final tier of guillotines from TCS comprises the CCM Premier range, which start at 78cm cutting widths and range up to 168cm. Cooper describes these guillotines as full production machines that are built and designed to be used in busy print shops or finishing trade houses.

Available from Terry Cooper Services, machines in the CCM Premier guillotine range from 78cm cutting widths up to 168cm. Pictured: the CCM Premier 137

“All CCM Premier machines offer JDF compatibility programming allowing the most complex of jobs to be cut,” Cooper says, adding: “Having twin linear guides, the high-speed back gauge increases cutting time at the guillotine along with quick knife and clamp optimisation.

“The Windows-based, full-colour touch screen gives the operator great visual information, whilst in production mode the operator can edit the job on the ‘fly’ to improve production throughput without having to reprogram the job, this is then auto saved for the next time this job is recalled.”

Quality and consistency

Elsewhere, Ashgate Automation stocks a number of finishing machines, including the ‘Ideal’ range of guillotines aimed at the short run, fast turnaround market. Managing director Lewis Price says, as their name suggests, these devices are ideal for this type of market where speed is of the essence and outsourcing would not be financially viable.

“When investing in kit, printers should look for consistency, safety features and build quality which is where this German range comes into its own,” Price says, adding:” It starts from an entry level electric bench top machine designed to handle formats up to A3 to a choice of electric floor standing machines, with a range of features including those with high cutting performance for increased productivity.”

Price describes the new Ideal 56 in particular as the most advanced programmable guillotine with a 56cm cutting length. A smart machine with intuitive controls and digital functions for flawless precision, Price says it is designed for increased efficiency and productivity with an IR light beam safety curtain and hydraulic clamp drive.