|Kongsberg XE-10, Kongsberg XL, digital cutters|
Kongsberg and Zund each make an XY flatbed cutter table size and cutting system for every need. Mimaki only offers a few models: their new Mimaki CF3 series, CF3-1631 and Mimaki CF3-1610 are the only two sizes in that series. Gerber also has only two sizes in their Gerber M Series cutters, M-3000, M-1200. With their new XP series, Kongsberg appears to have the widest range of cutter sizes, followed by other brands. But what counts is the diversity of cutting tools. Here Gerber and Mimaki have only a few.
Trade magazines often have nice articles that neatly list all the brands and models of cutters, but a trade magazine can't upset advertisers by making comparisons in pro-and-con style. Since it's essential to know the positive features and also which products lack features, FLAAR prefers to offer comments that tell more practical information. Of course if you don't need that particular feature, then you don't worry about that absence.
Kongsberg is part of Esko Graphics, what is now known as EskoArtwork. Esko also owns i-cut from MGE.
MGE iCUT software is almost always featured with Kongsberg cutters
It helps to have a good software for creating cut-outs for signs and displays. The forthcoming FLAAR Report in full color will explain contour nesting and how this Kongsberg feature differs from mere nesting that your RIP can already do.
Other flatbed cutting plotters
Kongsberg, Zund, Mimaki, and Gerber are die-less digital cutting tables.
Aristo and their Aristomat are mentioned, but until recently 2008 I don't remember ever having noticed them at any trade show even in Germany. Surely Aristo exhibited previously, but that brand was not well known to signage and display graphics world of North America.
Bedigital has their own products as well as rebranding other products from all over the world. Teckwin rebrands routers from AXYZ in Canada as the TeckRouter.
FLAAR has an inherent long-range interest in flatbed cutters
On our page on our Maya archaeology web site we explain why we are interested in learning about flatbed cutters for materials printed with flatbed UV-cured inkjet printers.
Flatbed cutting plotters are increasingly needed to finish signage produced by UV-curable flatbed inkjet printers
Kongsberg's brochures feature packaging applications for their larger XL-Series, but at tradeshow booths they are primarily cutting images printed with UV-cured inkjet printers. The Kongsberg DCM cutting tables are used for point-of-purchase displays.
Now that Gerber has come out with a new Solara ion dedicated flatbed UV printer, at a price lower than the Oce Arizona 250 GT, the increased sales of specifically dedicated flatbed printers will cause a rise in need for flatbed cutters for signage.
How does FLAAR learn about the different brands of flatbed digital cutters?
FLAAR visits printshops all around the world: Seoul (Korea), Malta (the island, north of Tunisia, south of Italy). Missouri, Illinois, Monaco (surrounded by France), Athens, and elsewhere. Since we tend to visit printshops with wide-format UV-cured flatbed printers, this kind of signage and display graphics printing companies tend to have digital cutters (Kongsberg or Zund) rather than old-fashioned CNC routers (MultiCam or AXYZ).
Here is one comment I found in my notes today:
The Esko is the most heavy, durable and exact of all the cutting tables in my opinion. I have bought two of these and some DataTech and Misomex (since out of business) machines. Mimaki and Zund also make these - but in myopinion, they are lightweight machines.
Not many people would classify the newest Zund G3 cutters as lightweight, but realize that some early models of Zund cutters were made to cut textiles. So the above comment is a reasonable opinion from three or so years ago. And since lots of these early XY flatbed cutters are still available used, it is indeed appropriate to keep these comments available (as long as there is the comment that newer models are not lightweight).
Mimaki cutters are not intended for heavy-duty cutting, so that comment is also understandable.
For further information on flatbed cutters for foam material and other rigid materials
If you have questions about flatbed cutters, you ought to contact individuals who have experience both with flatbed cutters AND with UV-curable flatbed printers. After all, it's foam boards, Coroplast, Sintra, Styrene, plexiglas and many other materials you will need to understand how to cut.
One place that where we know the people personally is MGE, makers of i-cut software. They are the former distributors and tech support for Zund cutters and re the present and continuing resource for Kongsberg cutters and software. So at one single place you can ask about pros and cons of both brands.
Wide Format Printers