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Trouble Flex cutting (die cutting) on Summa S2T160

Discussion in 'Summa' started by Signed Out, Jan 2, 2020.

  1. Signed Out

    Signed Out Very Active Member

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    Aug 6, 2010
    Upstate NY
    Trying to dial in the flex cutting on our summa s2 t160. We are wanting to do larger runs of die cut stickers. Mostly smaller decals, 4"x3" on average rectangles with rounded corners, about .125" radius. We have no problem flex cutting these decals if the rectangle shapes have square corners vs. radius corners. What happens when we try with radius corners is it will cut the first row perfectly, then the remainder of the sheet we only get about 1/3 of the decals to cut correctly, and it's random which cut good and bad. You can see that the cut doesn't line up at (usually 2) of the corners, leaving a little tag of material. Our only solution so far has been to only cut 1 row at a time but this wastes a lot of material because it has to print barcodes for every row instead of every about 10 rows.

    We have tried a few different materials, but I don't think this is the issue as square corners cut fine. We are using 2.75 mil vinyl with 2 mil laminate, printed with epson s80, onyx 19. We aren't contour cutting these at all, just flex cutting. Yesterday we installed an additional pinch roller hopping that would solve the problem, but it doesn't seem to have helped at all. We've experimented with different flex cut settings, and feel we have them pretty good as the square corner decals cut great. But maybe there's something we're missing here? Another thing we plan on trying is stepping down from 54" material to 30" to see if maybe the vinyl shifts less? Should also probably try some different degree blades?

    Have also read on the forum that some people are foregoing flex cut altogether and manipulating their contour cut settings to cut all the way through with good success.

    Hopping someone can chime in who has experience doing high production flex (die) cut stickers with their summa.
     
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  2. PHILJOHNSON

    PHILJOHNSON Sales Manager

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    Jul 23, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    Good morning,

    I will start by saying that the roll fed cutters aren't really designed for high volumes of die(perf) cutting and if you need to cut high volumes you might consider a flatbed cutter as that will be a much more consistent process with more predictable results. That said, there are a few things you can try to dial in your flex(perf) cut settings. Here are some things I would try -
    • Reduce your flex length and full length values: You can adjust these settings either on the on board menu or by using the Summa Cutter Control software that was included with your cutter. A flex cut is basically a game of connect the dots with the dots being the "flex length", or tab width, and the gaps between the tabs being the "full length". For curves you need to reduce these values and I would maybe start with something like 1mm for your full length and 0.5mm for your flex length. Always run a test cut after adjusting your settings to ensure everything is set correctly and that you can easily punch out the finished test cut rectangle without the tabs grabbing or tearing on the tabbed portions.
    • Make sure your flex and full pressure settings are properly setup: A big misconception when using the flex cut is that more knife depth is needed because you are cutting all the way through the material, however you're better off increasing your flex and full pressure as opposed to increasing your knife depth. If too much knife depth is being used it can affect the perf cut quality and your perf cuts may not align correctly. Also, if you use too much knife depth and your finished perf cuts start to separate while the cutter is still cutting, that will make accurate tracking of your materials a challenge and that could cause your start and stop points to not match up correctly.
    • Reduce your cutting speeds: When flex cutting, it is important that you don't run these jobs too fast. I would reduce the cutting speed to something like 100 mm/sec when flex cutting to allow the cutter to complete the flex cuts properly. If you run these jobs too fast the cutter may not complete the flex cuts correctly, especially in the curves, so slowing down the process should allow the cutter to more accurately fed and execute the cuts so the start and stop points match up better.
    • Ensure that you are using the device values for the flex cut as opposed to letting your software assign your flex cut settings: This is pretty self explanatory, but after getting your flex cut settings dialed in and successfully test cutting, make sure you don't have your cutting software override those settings. Offset, speed, pressure, and length setting changes can cause your flex cuts to turn out poorly if these settings are changed by the software.
    • Use new/sharp blades: The process of flex cutting will wear down your blades much quicker than kiss cutting will and it is important that you keep a nice, sharp blade in the cutter when flex cutting in order to get the best results. More frequent blade changing is needed when flex cutting so keep some extra blades on hand and change them more liberally if you are doing heavier volumes of flex cutting.
    I hope some of these suggestions help get things dialed in a bit better for you, but please feel free to PM me or email me at philj@airmark.com if you want to pick my brain on this process and I would be happy to help.

    Best regards,

    Phil Johnson
    Airmark Corporation
    (800)527-7778, ext 112
    philj@airmark.com
     
  3. Signed Out

    Signed Out Very Active Member

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    Aug 6, 2010
    Upstate NY
    Thanks Phil, really appreciate the lengths you go on these forums to help everyone out.

    We tried the suggested settings of 1mm, 0.5 mm, and the cutting did seem to track better. But the finished edge of the decals are now, almost serrated knife like. You can feel and see the little ridges. Also takes a lot longer to cut this way. We were running those settings at 10mm and 1mm, which works great for square corner rectangles, but not with the radius corners. Going to try a few settings in between to see if we can find a happy medium.

    Wondering if this serrated effect we are seeing is something you've run across before, perhaps it's an indicator that our depth or pressure settings are off?
     
  4. Saturn

    Saturn Member

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    Aug 14, 2018
    Oregon
    I will lead with the fact that I am using a baby Mutoh which only prints on 24" vinyl—and I use the 30" S2 tangential as a result, so my experiences won't be coming from someone that use a more "standard" size printer and plotter. That said, I think I achieve pretty good results using a similar stock and equipment. Here's an example of a few different die-cut stickers in the 3" x 3" ballpark.

    Even using 24" vinyl I have a total of 5 pinch rollers (includes the 2 main drive ones on each side). I don't use the perf-cut feature, but I pay very special attention to how far out the blade is set. I set it so that no matter the pressure it simply will not cut deeper than the depth of the material (lamination, printed vinyl, backing paper). For the samples linked about, I have been using around 300gr pressure, and 300mm/s (12in/s) for a velocity. I use the 45 degree tangential blades from Phil at Airmark.

    Perf-cut really frustrated me in the beginning, as I assumed that was the only way it could be done. It definitely was slow and fussy. Although I could probably get better results setting it up now, using what I've learned, I haven't had any reason to look back. One caveat is that I cannot combine kiss and die cuts in the same file or pass for a single sticker job. These must be done two pass now, although they're rare enough it doesn't matter for me, if I was doing a lot of "sticker sheets" I would revisit perf cutting.

    I don't think this is quite the issue you're tackling yet, but I know the backing paper can affect the quality of the cut too (at least as far as I delved into it). Definitely needs to be thicker rather than thinner. I had excellent results with Oracal 3165 and GF-203, but not so good results with Oracal 3164.

    Just thinking out loud seeing what sticks. ;p

    One question—How large, quantity wise, are the jobs you're trying to run?
     
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  5. PHILJOHNSON

    PHILJOHNSON Sales Manager

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    Jul 23, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    The serrated edge that you are feeling are all the small tabs on the edge. By reducing the values you have created a bunch more tabs and that is why the feel of the edge has changed. What Saturn has suggested will work too, but you do need to keep an eye on the quality of the cuts as your blades start to wear. If you can find a material combination that holds together during this scoring process you can get some nice results and you wouldn't have the tabs. If you have too much knife depth or pressure doing that process the shapes could start to separate and fall out while the cutter is still cutting and your material won't track correctly. Also, if you don't have enough pressure and depth they may not punch out correctly. Either way you go there may be some inconsistencies with the cut quality but monitoring things closely as your blades wear will help to reduce cut quality issues.

    Feel free to email or PM me if there's anything I can do to help.

    Best regards,

    Phil Johnson
    Airmark Corporation
    (800)527-7778, ext 112
    philj@airmark.com
     
  6. Signed Out

    Signed Out Very Active Member

    1,048
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    Aug 6, 2010
    Upstate NY
    Could you explain in a little detail how you are setting blade depth? Are you doing test cuts at 300 grams or full force to determine if it could cut all the way through?

    To answer your question, we are looking to do a run of about 1,000-2,000 per week for now. When justifiable we will definitely be looking into adding a flatbed cutter.
     
  7. Saturn

    Saturn Member

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    Aug 14, 2018
    Oregon
    Make sure the blade you're using is fresh and not nicked. I use this cheap hobby microscope to triple check things before I put it on.

    For GF-203 laminated with Oracal 210 (which i think is ballpark what you're using) I start out around 270-300 grams with a fresh blade, and rotate it out so it's just barely visible. From there I use the 'Knife Pressure' setting to test the cut, even though I'm not changing the pressure at this point, just slowly rotating out the blade. This uses a small amount of make-ready and can be done fast right at the plotter. Turn slowly, maybe a twelfth to a tenth of a turn per test. Here's an image of that test cut. You can see the first one on the right still had some backing tear-out. This all leads up to the next step...

    This image shows a file I created just to test or troubleshoot cut depth and offset. Nothing fancy, just some black lines on white vinyl (or whatever you're final material is). That initial cut test from the plotter menu will get you close, but you may still need to dial out the knife VERY SLIGHTLY to get these shapes to pop out cleanly. If I can get this far I'm pretty much ready to go. Fresh blades WILL require you to dial up the pressure a tiny bit, and rotate out the blade. Don't start a 2,000 piece job without watching very close for the first 500 or so. You WILL need to extend the blade a tiny bit initially. After that, for your scale, you should only touch it again every couple weeks to maybe rotate it a sixteenth out until it's time to replace, if at all. If you can feel a groove wearing on the rubber strip, you're way overextended and your quality will suffer. The strip should outlast the blade by far if you things set properly. The stickers should remain in the sheet until you get them to the table for popping out, and like I mentioned before, circles and squares should nearly fall out just by tapping them/pushing on them, but complex stuff can require a good technique.

    This is all just my experience from a relatively short amount of time doing them, so do lots of your own thinking on it. It goes way faster after you've done it a few times. If you have more than one person doing this process I admit it could be a harder learning curve, especially if they don't go through the steps but once every 3-4 months. Any issues I come across on the Summa are typically operator error, so when I have them it's nice to reflect that I will probably just be having a /facepalm moment shortly, or learn something new.
     
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