Both rotary finishing and flatbed die cutting are mature processes with their own benefits, and certain projects will call for a different style of finishing. The more you know, the better equipped you will be to decide which process is best for your job.
Which should you use?
The biggest factor to consider, first and foremost, is the material and how thick it is. Normally when cutting with rotary, you will get a diagonal cut leading or trailing depending on if the material is extremely thick.
Equipment which is servo based can help you overcome some of these difficulties when cutting thicker substrates. With specialized rotary equipment, you can speed ratio, or you can time the entry and exit and change the speed and control tension very closely so that you can almost eliminate the problem and get vertical cuts on very thick material. Material thickness is the primary reason why people tend not to use rotary and have to run a particular job flatbed. The second biggest consideration is typically how long those runs are. It takes longer to set up a rotary press. It also uses more material to set up a rotary press. For example, a typical press from our company is 20 feet (6.096m) long and ranges in widths from 10\ to 24\ (25.4 to 60.96cm). So, it takes quite a bit of material to web that machine. It doesn’t take long to get it into registration, but it does take extra material to get it through one process to another. Flatbed diecutters don’t have all that. You load them, cut them and they stack off the back. There is less waste in the flatbed environment.
Average rotary speeds can be as low as 30′ (9.14m) per minute and as high as 300′(91.44m) per minute. If you are cutting large parts, some rotary equipment is as wide as 30\ (76.2cm) size parts. In the past you wouldn’t typically have cut folding cartons and gaskets on rotary. But now the press widths have grown and the stability of holding tension control on those materials has gotten much better. If you’re producing large quantities in the 100 million to 1,000 million range, of course you want to cut them with rotary. They just fall off the back of the press on a stacker, you can collect them, box them and they are out the door. Compare that to flatbed, with large 40(101.6cm) offset sheets where somebody must manually knock them out. That is very labor intensive.
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