As the business of wide format printing gains momentum, print and sign shops increasingly need to find automated digital finishing systems to keep pace with the demand
Jenrite now has the agency for Esko cutting tables and 3D design software. Craig Simmons, product manager at Jenrite, believes that the timing will suit the burgeoning sign and wide format industry. He says the Kongsberg automated digital finishing systems provide unmatched performance, versatility and durability. Print and sign businesses that have increased their throughput can make the most of this technology.
“Since they were introduced in 1984, well over 2,000 Kongsberg cutting tables have been installed in more than 70 countries. Almost all of those are still in daily production.”
Simmons says, “The Kongsberg i-XN Series handles a wide range of materials, providing automation, high productivity and outstanding precision, with virtually unlimited vacuum grip.”
Different tools can be inserted simultaneously into the configurable tool stations of the i-XN’s Flexihead and Multicut tool heads. These include tangential knife tools; micro and kiss-cut tools; oscillating knife tools; creasing tools; and pen plotting tools.
The Flexihead handles a variety of materials ranging from paper, pressure sensitive film or vinyl, to cartons, textiles, plastics, corrugated, and foam board. All the Flexihead tools can be combined with a high-power router in the Multicut tool head in two customer configurable stations, allowing processing of rigid materials such as Dibond, Forex, Sintra, PVC, wood and acrylics up to 25mm thick.
The Multicut router spindle features 1kW of milling power, and adjustable spindle speeds up to 60,000rpm. It allows for milling, contour cutting, routing, drilling and engraving directly from CAD/graphics designs.
Designed to provide an efficient and versatile finishing solution for short run production of articles for visual communication, labels, signs and displays, the Kongsberg i-XE10 is a digital finishing solution for small format, lightweight and flexible materials. Simmons says, “The i-XE10 Auto is an extremely versatile machine, allowing you to extend your offerings. It offers automated short-run production on a big range of materials. It handles materials from thin coated and uncoated papers, folding carton, over pressure sensitive vinyl to thin polycarbonate and much more. The i-cut Vision Pro registers the actual dimensions and positions on the printed result. Then, finishing is adapted to the shape of the graphics.”
Automated material handling
The Kongsberg i-XN can be equipped with a conveyer system for automated material processing, allowing material to be continuously retrieved from a roll of material, or sheets can be automatically fed through the Autofeeder sheet feeding system.
The Autofeeder system features a pick and place unit along with a loading table, on which sheets are stacked for finishing. The sheets are picked up with suction cups and placed on the i-XL conveyer belt for transport onto the finishing table. Finished material is then collected from the belt on an off-load table. The sheet feeding system handles thick or rigid materials as well as thin, flexible materials. Sheet sizes can range from 200 mm x 250 mm up to 2130 mm x 3000 mm.
Simmons says, “The conveyer system is designed for seamless integration with i-cut’s continuous workflow operation. Non-stop production can be accomplished, virtually unattended. Production applications, requiring continuous loading of material by pushing material on the conveyer belt and moving the belt, are made easy.”
Software for hard jobs
Esko says businesses can eliminate errors, save time and reduce waste with its i-cut Suite, a collection of pre-production software targeted specifically at users of large format digital printers and/or digital finishing systems.
Simmons says, “i-cut Suite tackles all bottlenecks in your workflow. From pre-flighting PDF files, preparing graphics, creating layouts, to printing, and finishing in perfect registration. i-cut Suite streamlines every step of the way.
“Starting with i-cut Pre-flight, which brings a simple PDF pre-flighting solution for large format digital printing; it is the starting point for a true workflow. Problems are reported automatically, before going to print. There’s no need to go into Adobe Illustrator and lose time trying to figure out why the file will not print properly. i-cut Pre-flight will tell you automatically.”
Another feature, i-cut Layout, optimises sheet layout. He says, “Rectangular shapes, irregular shapes, double sided jobs, oversized jobs, i-cut Layout will always come up with the most cost efficient layout. i-cut Layout creates cutting paths, generates bleeds automatically, makes sure that jobs are nested in the most cost effective way and tiles oversized jobs quickly and accurately.”
Esko says its i-cut Vision Pro feature ensures die-less cutting contours match the printed images. Simmons adds, “Often with other methods, slight distortions between printed graphics and contour cut may cause unacceptable results. i-cut Vision Pro registers the actual dimensions and positions on the printed result. Then, finishing is adapted to the shape of the graphics.
“When everything is ready for production, i-cut Layout will create two files, one for printing – a PDF - and one for cutting, containing all relevant cutting information. i-cut Layout even sends along relevant tooling information. This prevents errors later on in the digital finishing process.”
Esko says that i-cut Vision Pro optimises each cut contour for each graphic on each sheet, adding that i-cut Vision Pro is capable of automatic and dynamic compensation of any dimensional changes, distortions or material variations, like shrinkage or stretching. Simmons says, “i-cut Vision Pro makes sure that die-less cutting contours match the printed images perfectly. It registers the actual dimensions and positions, with a camera, on the printed result. Then, finishing is adapted to the shape of the graphics.”