Since the 1980s, digital print and cut has opened doors for businesses of all kinds – from print service providers to independent producers. In this article, we’ll explain what print and cut is, what you need to get started and the different products you can make with a print and cut solution.
What is Print and Cut?
Typically, when people mention ‘print and cut’, they are referring to printing on self-adhesive vinyl and contour cutting outlines and shapes. In the past, stickers were die-cut using individual dies for every shape, which was time-consuming and costly. Digital printing has made this a very simple process with very little manual intervention required.
Although there are a few ways to print and cut vinyl, in this article, we will look at integrated printing and cutting using a single device known as a printer/cutter.
What do you Need for Print and Cut?
This device uses an inkjet system to print onto rolls of material or ‘media’. The print carriage contains the print heads which deliver the ink, and a cutting blade which accurately cuts the vinyl. There are several types of printer/cutter available and choosing the right print and cut machine will depend on your business and what you wish to achieve.
Read more: Digital Printer Buying Guide: Which Print Technology Do You Need?
One of the key factors determining what you produce will be the type of ink you use and how it is configured. You can choose between different types of ink, like eco-solvent or UV ink, and this will determine the type of device you need to buy. Within those categories, you can also choose which colours are included – known as the ‘ink configuration’.
Note: Once you have configured your ink, changing your mind is a costly and complicated process, so it pays to research the types of ink and their advantages prior to making your decision.
Before deciding which device and ink configuration you need, take a look at the different kinds of print media available. For most print-and-cut jobs – like stickers, wall graphics or vehicle graphics - self-adhesive gloss white vinyl is a popular choice.
However, if you need to print window graphics, you will need to print onto a transparent media and in this case, including white ink in your configuration has great advantages.
Read more: A Beginner's Guide to Print Media
A Graphic Design Package:
To produce the artwork prior to printing, you will need a graphic design solution, ideally including a bitmap editor (like Adobe Photoshop) and a vector editor (like Adobe Illustrator). Aside from producing designs, these also help with specifying cutlines or including additional print data like white ink areas or even spot gloss details.
A Space to Work:
Consider the type of work you need to produce and make sure you have enough space for all your equipment. If you are just starting out, you can build your business from a spare room or a garage by purchasing a desktop printer/cutter. Likewise, you can also produce in-house graphics – for example, product labels – by installing a small printer/cutter in a corner of your premises.
If you need to produce more work or larger graphics, you’ll not only need a bigger printer/cutter – you’ll also need a larger workbench or application table as well as an area to safely store a larger supply of media rolls.
Depending on the jobs you are doing, you may need some additional equipment. Things like scalpels and weeding tools are useful to speed up the application process, and squeegees are essential for cleanly applying graphics. Isopropyl alcohol is great for creating a clean surface prior to application.
Also, if you wish to print custom T-shirts and other garments, you will need a heat press. Or, if you want to produce floor graphics, a lamination table will save a lot of time.
You will need a device to run your print-and-cut solution and you will also need to install, at a minimum, a RIP platform or ‘raster image processor’. This software translates digital images into a format that your device can interpret and reproduce. Be sure to check out the minimum requirements of your RIP as a slow PC can affect how quickly you can produce work.
Read more: What is a RIP?
What Can You Make with Print-and-cut?
In essence, a printer/cutter is a very simple device, yet the breadth of possible products you can make is impressive.
Stickers and Labels
When you think of how easy it is to start a business today, it’s not surprising that lots of entrepreneurs – from artisan coffee producers to independent event organisers – have a need to promote their services. In all cases, a simple print-and-cut sticker is exactly the solution they need.
The same segment of independent businesses may well be interested in custom T-shirts, uniforms, aprons or a host of other garments. There’s also a fertile B2C market of average people looking for cool T-shirts that nobody else has and setting up an online store is easier than it’s ever been.
Print and cut is an ideal solution for printing interior and exterior graphics for any business you can think of and there are lots of products and services you can offer. For example, you can create adhesive logo wall stickers to brand a local office or produce van stickers for a local plumber.
If you have a printer/cutter which includes a white ink channel, you can extend your abilities to window stickers or static clings. Here, you can print and cut permanent or temporary graphics to help your customers highlight seasonal promotions or brand their premises.
Both private and public buildings require a range of different printed signage from directional signs and signposts, to safety signage. A printer/cutter lets you produce all these in any size and using a variety of media. If you have a UV printer/cutter with gloss ink installed, you can even include Braille text in your signs.
As you can see, it’s quick and easy to get started with printing and cutting and the profit potential is impressive. Although you can buy an integrated printer/cutter, some business owners prefer to use separate devices. Check out this article to find out which is best for you or get in touch with us if you have any other questions.