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FLEXO Magazine : October 2009
www.flexography.org OCTOBER 2009 FLEXO 57 Part II of this story will appear in FLEXO's November issue. how the artwork was originally drawn. This is the worst case scenario and serves as an example of how more primitive laser cutters without software improvements of any kind oper- ated. In this case this means that the cutting proceeds at 37 percent of the cutting speed achieved as that shown in Figure 19 where the cutting sequences are optimized for the fastest cutting speed. Until recently, this was the best that laser cutting machines could do. Now, the state-of-art algorithms in today 's better qual- ity laser cutting machines take this to the next step by figuring in the adjustments in the cutting sequence that would need to be done that take web speed into account. If the web is moving from right to left this means, for example, that the geometry de- tails on the far left need to be cut first and that the way in which the scan heads are moved will depend on the web speed being used. This is shown in Figure 20, where the cutting se- quence is also optimized for web speed, not just cutting speed, such that a 350 percent faster web speed is achieved. Thus, optimizing for cutting speed alone can result in slower web speeds and buyers of laser cutting systems are well-advised to ignore manufacturers' claims re: cutting speeds and instead focus in on demonstrations of the ability of the system software to optimize for web speed. These web speed optimizations are done automatically by the better quality laser cutting systems and do not require any operator training. The more sophisticated software algorithms in today 's better quality laser cutters that optimize for web speed also give an unprecedented ability to continuously laser cut pictures that are longer than half of the working field. Obsolete models of laser cutters that can only optimize cutting for cutting speed, and not web speed, restrict the sizes of pictures to be cut to be no larger than half the size of the working field. These same algorithms that optimize for web speed also eliminate the need for up to 90 percent of the hard cuts and quality issues that arise when you try to stitch two images together. They do this automatically, in contrast to obsolete models of laser cutting machines that require operators to manually reset the cutting sequence to avoid hard cuts in the artwork. ABOUT THE AUHOR: Markus Klemm is R&D software engi- neer for Spartanics (www.spartanics.com), which engineers and manufactures a range of automated equipment for laser cutting, die cutting, screen printing, card punching, counting, and inspection used by global label manufacturers, convert- ers, printers, card manufacturers, among others finishing flat stock material. Spartanics is headquartered in suburban Chicago, IL and its worldwide service organization also maintains offices and spare parts in Europe. Questions and comments can be forwarded to email@example.com. FIGURE 18. No optimization. FIGURE 19. Cutting speeds optimized. FIGURE 20. Web speed optimized. TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES
Sustainable Fall 2009