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What Type of Cutting Method is best for a Production Print Center?

October 23rd, 2020 by Paul Perez

Many organizations have moved to produce graphics and marketing materials in house to save on outsourcing costs and eliminate waiting on the local print shop. Now that print jobs can be taken directly from design to print, the challenge of finishing the printed sheets comes into play. So, what's the best way to trim the white edges off a corporate brochure, or how does a gang up sheet of business or postcards end up as a stack that can be handed out or mailed? These are common questions that newly formed Reprographics Departments will sooner or later have to answer.

Best Paper Cutter for Print Production

A quick overview of cutting technologies:

  • Guillotine Cutter

    These range in size and power, but all have a common goal of straight edge cuts. Most can cut close to a ream of paper at one time, in one direction, and are laser-guided to increase accuracy. Operator interaction is constant as sheets must be aligned and clamped before engaging the blade. Due to the operator having to realign the sheet prior to each cut, items that require multiple cuts can end up slightly inconsistent once finished (i.e., business cards).

  • Automatic Slitter

    These also range in size and speed, but the engineering behind them allows for multiple cuts done perpendicularly. Most slitters are fed automatically - so once the cut size is selected, operator interaction is minimal. They are typically driven by software to switch between cut sizes easily and can be equipped with creasing and perforating functionality. The most common use cases are business and postcards slitting, in which they produce a uniform finished product.


Guillotine Cutters are very simple as they use either hydraulics or electricity to push a sharp blade through paper. They have been around forever with small advancements here and there and are relatively inexpensive. Couple that with few moving parts that don't require much maintenance, and you are in the game for a relatively low cost of entry. Keep in mind that these machines always need an operator to function which may increase labor cost.

On the other hand, slitters use newer technology and have more moving parts due to the automatic feeding of sheets and the machine's cross-cutting nature. Adding a perforator and creaser to the device increases this complexity. More maintenance will be needed throughout the lifespan of a slitter, and the initial investment will be more significant than that of a Guillotine. Once sheets are loaded and the cut selected, the machine can run on its own.

Which one is right for me?

When exploring the purchase of a cutter, the output produced should play an important role in guiding the decision. Simple cuts, like trimming the creep of a booklet or cutting a sheet to full bleed can easily be done on a Guillotine Cutter with positive results. Alternatively, cutting sheets of business cards and mailers are not only easier to do on a slitter, but lots of time will be saved and the professional appearance will be appreciated. Each machine's cost should be weighed against the labor involved in the cutting process to get an accurate idea of which device is best. Almost all cuts can be performed on a Guillotine – however, as cuts become more involved, an automatic slitter can save some time and hassle.

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Posted in: Business Technology

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