Cutting out DTF transfers can be a time-consuming process, and there is no way to avoid this when producing DTF. A flatbed cutter can streamline the process saving time, it also helps utilise the printable area and save on film. When cutting DTF you need to use what is known as a through cut, this means the blade cuts through the film fully meaning you must use a flatbed cutter with a vacuum bed not a roll fed cutter.
There are three main types of cut used, all are suited to different types of artwork and how the transfers will be used.
Weed border - this is a cut line generated by the Resolute RIP that has straight edges and follows the canvas size of the artwork. You can specify additional padding around the artwork if the print is to close to the edge. A weed border cuts each piece of artwork out and must leave a margin between the jobs. This is the simplest cut to generate and the most popular process used.
Straight vertical and horizontal cuts - this is the fastest method of cutting. The RIP will generate straight cuts on the X and Y axis and then a full cut around the entire film spread. Whilst this is the fastest method cutting it does have some drawbacks. You can only perform a cut from top to bottom and left to right in a single pass, therefore the film spread can only contain multiples of the same artwork. If you mix jobs within the same film spread the cut process will fail. The individual logos will need to be picked from the vacuum belt which can take time but no where near as much time as manual cutting. Straight cuts all require less film in between the logos so they use a little less film.
Contour cut & shape nesting- This method of cutting allows a process called shape nesting to be used, this saves film by tracing the outer edge of the print by a specified amount (4mm is normal) and then rotating the logos to make them fit into a smaller area thus saving on film usage. It can be complicated and will take a few seconds longer for the RIP to process the film spread but if you want to reduce your film usage it's well worth the wait. The image above shows a logo 40 up on a 1m spread, the example below is the same logo imported and then telling the RIP to shape nest it. A further 21 logos are placed making the total on the same 1m spread 61, thats a 30% saving on a single 1m job. Shape nesting is only possible if you have the R-Jet PRO FB cutter, if you use a different type of shape it will be impossible to cut the logos out by hand as shown in the second example.
Shape nesting at its best- A better example of how shape nesting can really save money and time, is when football numbers or similar are being produced. These two images show a standard copied number 1, which fits 49 up on approx 1m of film, count up how many number 1's fit on the same amount of film when shape nesting and a flat bed cutter are put to use! Thats a scary amount of money and time saved.
The number of copies has gone from 49 to 138 in the same amount of film, thats pretty impressive and proves shape nesting coupled with the R-Jet PRO FB cutter will soon pay for itself in consumable savings alone. Don't forget, this is an example and not every job will be as impressive, but in general using a cutter will definitely save time cutting transfers out, the saving on film costs is the real icing on the cake!
Tab Cut - To save time picking the logos from the vacuum belt a clever custom cut can be generated called tab cut. This works best when combined with a weed border. By telling the cutter to leave .5mm every 70mm the logos will be left attached to the film spread with a small tab which makes transport to the heat press area much quicker. The logos stay attached by the small un-cut tab and can be quickly popped out when ready to be pressed. This method means there is no time wasted picking individual logos off the belt. There is a small downside to a tab cut, the cutter runs slower but the amount of time and effort saved when moving the logos to the heat press area is so much you won't care. You don't need to stand and watch the cutter!
The Resolute RIP 11.3 can also generate cut lines form a spot colour hairline, this method is used in the old fashioned process called print and cut. You can generate a cut line by using a specified spot colour and calling it a specific name. The RIP will pick this up and generate the cut lines automatically, this means you have no control of the cut line in the RIP and it could take you longer to produce manually in illustrator or corel. However, it can be used to mix different types of cut that require different parameters in the same film spread. You can mix contour cuts with weed borders, tab cuts and similar.
R-Jet PRO DTF FB cutter - Resolute now supply a flatbed cutter that is designed for DTF cutting, we can also supply and drive some high end flatbed cutters like the Veloblade used by many commercial printers. A flatbed cutter used for DTF has to have a few unique points in order to work correctly. These may seem trivial but make a huge difference to the cutters reliability and performance.
Why is a DTF cutter different from other cutters - A vacuum belt is required to hold the film in position, this is a much stronger vacuum than you will find on a standard flat bed cutter. When the film is advanced automatically, the cutter will need pneumatic clamps to hold the film in place while it automatically turns off the vacuum in order to advance the film to its next cutting position. Some older designed cutters use a roller to press the film onto the belt at the back, these will cause the film to skew or be scratched and the cutter will lose its position wasting a lot of film. As the adhesive is face up, nothing must touch the film apart from the blade during cutting.
In the next blog I am giving away a LEAVERS 24 illustrator template you can paste names into from word.
QR code scanner - Using a QR code to hold the cut line information is a very quick and fool proof method, without a QR code scanner each job will need to be setup manually which can take some time and can be confusing. A QR code scanner also allows for virtual tiling, this method of cutting means you are not restricted to the cutters bed size area, this is normally 60cm width by 90cm length. When using virtual tiling, the cutter can take a 2m spread and cut it in sections moving it to the next position automatically. This saves a lot of wasted film, if you are restricted to cutting 60cm x 90cm you could waste approximately 12cm of film between each job. Over a 100m roll of film this is more than 10% wasted if you are forced to cut in 90cm lengths.
The Resolute flatbed cutter also utilises the multi function capabilities of our Vi series printers. You can print and then kiss cut custom labels, a kiss cut only cuts through the top layer of media meaning it can be peeled away from the backing when required. Custom self adhesive labels is a very lucrative market, short run including variable data can reach a price of £12 per A4 sheet, you can fit 8 x A4 sheets on a single spread generating £96 per spread. This is a huge margin, you can easily check the normal price for this service on-line. We found only a handful of companies offering short run custom labels which proves there is room for growth in the label sector of print.
You can print posters, stickers, flyers, banners, vinyl labels and even backlit film on an R-Jet PRO DTF V series.
Large Format Printing - Currently, the Resolute R-Jet PRO DTF V4i and V8i are the only multi function DTF systems and have more earning capacity than any other standard DTF printer. If your DTF printer is not going to be working all day, you could be utilising it better by printing popular items like bedroom posters, custom wrapping paper, personalised flyers with variable data, stickers and variable data items with custom peel off labels. You can also up your game by producing your own marketing items in-house reducing costs and allowing you to boost your own company's image. We have produced custom wrapping paper which is a very eye catching product. It looks professional and boosts your companies image for very little cost. A small market research test proved there are thousands of potential orders for custom wrapping paper not being fulfilled. We are currently looking into offering on-line software so your customers can produce their own custom wrapping paper designs, along with DTF gang sheets, standard sticker templates and many more. You can see our demo site here, have a play, the site is not live but should function fully.
For further details on any of the items mentioned in this blog please contact the Resolute sales team on 01246 202686. You can contact the sales team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the enquiry form below.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, look out for the next Blog which is all about the new R-Jet PRO DTF UVi. A small footprint DTF UV printer that packs a big punch.
See Ya Soon - CJM