Flatbed Label Die Cutting Process

June 27, 2018

The flatbed die cutting process goes hand-in-hand with label manufacturing know-how to form an active business sector. The key is to accurately register the self-adhesive labels, to align the blanks in an extraordinarily precise manner. Now, as the silicone-backed sheets move forward, the shaped die kiss-cuts the paper, separates the adhesive substrate, and repeats the process, again and again. Imagine the degree of precision applied during that three-dimensional process.

Two-Dimensional Accuracy

Servo motors align the sheets in two dimensions. They move left and right, they're configured to the nth degree, and the process is ready to begin. Unlike a rotary mechanism, the perpendicular relationship between the shaped cutting die and the flattened sheets assures even contact. A crisp, sharp kiss-cut is applied to the sheet as the fluid-actuated press drops. Actually, many identical labelling cuts are applied simultaneously. The die is formed into an array of cutting blades, so the duplicate label outlines fully occupy the sheet.

The Third Dimensional Aspect

Unlike many flatbed die cutting applications, a great deal of pretension adjusting is worked upon before the process kicks off. The blade needs to cleanly cut the label paper, plus the adhesive gum, but there it stops. The silicone-backed liner is left untouched so that the sheets will pop out of the discharge side with the self-adhesive labels ready for peeling. Imagine an adjustable cutting depth, one that's measured in fractions of a millimetre. In point of fact, we're looking at hundreds of micro-millimetres (μm), not whole integers. Large deviations from this norm will cut into the liner or stop the label from easily slipping free of its backing.

Blocking Out the Process

From the beginning, the feeder uses a suction head or mechanical loader to send the multi-layered sheets forward. The servo motors step in now and align the sticky sheets. This is the in-feed stage, the part of the equipment that registers the paper. Special sensors and tiny servo motors work in concert to address this location-based issue, with the sheets moving fractions of a millimetre forward and back. Finally, before breaking free and into the delivery section, the sheets are kiss-cut by a finitely adjustable platen. The die edges sink just deep enough to free the paper and sticky adhesive, but the liner isn't cut.

As expected, there's less stripping and blank separation work done inside the equipment. The goal really is to finely adjust the X and Y planes, and then the perfectly aligned sheets just need a single kiss-cut, one that's perfectly applied every single time. Dimensional precision and depth cutting accuracy rank highly this time around.

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