- What is a Printer/Cutter?
- What Are the Advantages of Printer/Cutters?
- What Can You Do With a Printer/Cutter?
- What Do You Need to Get Started?
- What Skills Do You Need to Develop?
The world of print and cut is an exciting place with lucrative opportunities waiting around every corner. But what is print-and-cut and what can you even do with a printer/cutter? If you’re interested, you’ve come to the right place. For over 30 years, we’ve pioneered development in digital printing and cutting technologies - so you can bet we know what we’re talking about.
1. What is a Printer/Cutter?
Back in the ‘80s, we earned a solid reputation for developing top-quality large-format printers and near-invincible cutting plotters. Both these technologies work in much the same way - by passing a print head or a cutting blade left and right, while ‘pinch rollers’ feed the material in and out.
Pinch Rollers: these rollers are positioned at several points (at least two) along the print bed underneath and above the media. These are clamped together holding the media firmly in place while it’s fed backward and forward.
With the release of the ColorCAMM PNC-5000 in 1995, we married these technologies together in a single integrated device. Today, models range from compact desktop devices to high-speed wide-format printer/cutters suitable for all levels of production.
2. What Are the Advantages of Print and Cut?
If you already use separate devices to print and cut, you might wonder if you really need to buy a printer/cutter. Depending on your workflow, you might not need to, and your two-machine setup works perfectly for your business. But there are certain inescapable truths about printer/cutters:
- SPACE: Obviously, a single device will take up less space than two, which is an important consideration for smaller businesses with relatively small premises.
- CONVENIENCE: There’s no need to move media from the printer to the cutter to complete the job as the printer/cutter treats both operations as a single job.
- PRODUCTION: Further to the previous point, an additional take-up collects each job on a second roll, letting you leave the device to produce unattended long-runs.
These advantages carry a lot of weight, but the most powerful benefit is arguably the versatility offered by print-and-cut.
3. What Can You Do with a Printer/Cutter?
The range of products you can make with a printer/cutter is so vast that users seldom scratch the surface. Like any wide format printer, you can print signs, posters and banners. You can also cut window lettering, heat transfer vinyl and vehicle graphics like you would with a cutting plotter but you can also create applications which mix both technologies perfectly.
Die-cut Stickers and Labels: You can print and cut intricate stickers with pinpoint accuracy, letting you branch into vehicle graphics, product labelling and more.
Packaging prototypes: Instead of outsourcing packaging design proofs, cut your lead time and increase your margin by bringing prototyping in-house.
Full-colour heat transfers: With a modest investment, you can add a heat press to your set-up and start making custom clothing or tote-bags.
Of course, any of the above can be achieved using separate devices, but for the convenience alone, it pays to invest in an integrated device if you want to start a diverse print-and-cut business.
4. What Do You Need to Get Started?
There are three key things that determine the quality and efficiency of your output. If any one of these elements doesn’t perform, your end product will suffer and that could ultimately cost you your reputation.
- DEVICE:Obviously, the printer/cutter itself is an important part. If it has been manufactured with high standards, it’ll serve you well for years provided you follow the cleaning and maintenance guidelines. Since your business will likely revolve around it, any prolonged downtime could be fatal, so it always pays to deal with a manufacturer with a warranty package that can get you back up and running as soon as possible.
- INK:The debate about third party inks continues to rage among print professionals. If you can get a similar ink at a lower cost, you can improve your profits in the short term, but you can expect to notice issues with consistency early on. After that, there’s a chance that your device could develop performance issues, since it was only ever optimised for one particular type of ink. In the end, whatever gains you made from scrimping on ink you will likely soon lose.
- RIP: The Raster Image Processor, or RIP, is the piece of software which interprets graphics on your computer into something your printer/cutter can understand. When you ‘send’ an image to a printer/cutter, the best RIPs will calibrate your print job depending on the type of media or the application letting you nail colours perfectly, produce crystal-clear images and text, and cut with pinpoint accuracy.
As we mentioned, if one of these elements is out of place, your entire operation is at risk. On the other hand, if these three pillars are developed to a high standard in tandem, by the same manufacturer, they will likely work in perfect harmony with each other and give you more reliable results.
5. What Skills Do You Need to Develop?
Although the technology behind printer/cutters is quite simple, there is a slight learning curve to overcome. Fortunately, the devices are so easy to use that you can achieve professional results with even the most basic knowledge. If you want everything to go smoothly from the start, look for a manufacturer which can provide training specific to your device.
Other than that, the following skills are useful:
- DESIGN SKILLS: Not only can you broaden your own capabilities, you can also work more easily with customers’ design files.
- APPLICATION SKILLS: Certain applications, like vehicle wrapping for example, require specialist skills and hours of practice.
- SALES/MARKETING SKILLS: If you want your business to succeed, you need to develop your commercial skills.
Thanks to the internet, blogs, podcasts and video tutorials for any of these skills can easily be found. You can also find a thriving online community of print professionals on various social media platforms and in most cases, they’re more than happy to share their expertise.
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