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Subject: Cutting a lot of cards rss

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Jonatan Rullman
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I've been scouring the web for like 15 hours now in total and I can't come up with a lot of good results so it's over to the experts.

For quite a few reasons, not the least being my new printer, I will probably want to cut up quite a few cards in the near future. For one I've been thinking of doing a print of Cards Against Humanity and possibly do a few extra copies to give to friends and with 500+ cards per set it will really shave some time off the cutting process if I use proper tools.
I also have some friends who like designing board games and will probably help them out with prototyping and such so all in all I think I'll be having good use out of doing my homework properly.

I would also like to follow some kind of standard so that cards can be sleeved. This is what really messes this plan up or I could get a cheap automatic cutter (see 5). Possibly it would be a really excellent idea to just forget that and save hours and hours.

In the 15 or so hours I have spent reading up I've come to the following conclusions and I would very much like your input on the different possibilities.

1. Manual guillotine or rotary blade
Since most of these can only handle very few sheets at the time this will probably be totally out. If I can find a really heavy duty model with good guiding walls, that will probably work fairly well though. Some have raised concerns about guillotine type models not making good cuts when used on a stack of papers because of the high pressure they enforce on it, so I'm a bit suspicious of this alternative. Rotary blade type models do not generally cut more than one or two papers at the time I think.

2. CNC type electronic die cutters. Also laser cutters.
Bosskut Gazelle, Silhouette Cameo and similar models did seem rather promising and they can cut the cards with rounded corners directly so that's a time saver. I do not think these are viable because of the long processing and not least setup time for each paper to be cut. I also have concerns about their ability to work in a assembly line type environment because of the apparently fairly high maintenance per sheet. They do look incredibly nice for other work though so in the future I might get one for tokens, boards, hex tiles and other.
Laser cutters are not viable because of price, although I could have a bunch of fun with it for other stuff, and also because of processing and setup time. Not as much maintenance though I would imagine.

3. Semi-automatic die cutters
Having a manual roller and a custom made die the size of a sheet would probably work pretty well. Does anyone have suggestions on manufacturers this side of the pond? Or anywhere even. This model suffers from the problem of making a die for every card size wanted. Also, it can't be used for cutting straight cuts like a guillotine or intricate work on a whim like a CNC.

4. Semi-automatic card cutters
Kardkutter or the similar models by Rhematec are a viable option but even though they make the measuring automatically and cut several cuts at the time I don't think they have much on a proper guillotine if it has good guides and can cut at least 10 sheets at a stroke with good quality. They will simply take too much time because they run a single sheet in four steps. They also cant handle A3 which means more paper wasted, higher printing costs and so forth.

5. Automatic card cutters
Pretty much exclusively tailored for printing business cards (I don't blame them) these are fixed size and the only thing that come close to anything sleevable seem to be the size called 9-UP which produces cards that are 2,5x3,5 or 63,5x88,9mm. 63,5x88mm is commonly used and so a really quick trim of each card before manually cutting the corners might still provide good and faster results than many of the other. This would however require the machine to be very accurate in cutting and I would have to find a model that supports bleed which really narrows the choices down, possibly to nothing.
There are models that can be individually tailored or even adjustable on the fly but I have yet to find one priced below $4000.

6. Electric rotary blade
Sometimes also called electric/automatic/digital paper stack cutter or trimmer.
This is one of the more promising alternatives in that there is actually a model available at a price less than that of your own Chinese sweat shop. There are model after model that appear to do fantastic things to stacks of paper that you need a fork lifter to fit in them (I might be exaggerating a bit) and do it with the precision of the door on a german car. These look a lot like hydraulic presses used to cut sheets of metal; you enter the size you want with an lcd, it automatically adjusts the guiding walls, stick paper in and press a button. Again a Chinese sweat shop might be more affordable as many models go for $10000+, few go for less than $4000 and one or two is available at $2000-3000. Plus shipping and VAT (19-25%) that is.
The one exception that I can find is the Fellowes PowerTrim which has a promising price of about $300 but is missing all the automatic or even manual guiding walls and only has some printed lines on the feeder table. Still better than nothing I suppose.

So out of all these categories most of them fail due to price, having negligible speed increases over the base line, a regular $100 guillotine, or providing any significant advantage over it.
The exceptions to this would be a heavy duty guillotine, automatic business card cutter, the Fellowes PowerTrim or custom made dies.
With all the Chinese heavy duty guillotine models out there I'm not entirely sure that quality will match expectation.
An automatic business card cutter is a very, very promising alternative if I can find a model that can handle bleed and will do 2,5x3,5". Possibly this will be too expensive.
The PowerTrim is looking very nice, can handle big loads of paper, the guiding system can probably be improved with a little engineering and it comes from an established business so quality will probably be just fine.
A custom made die would be a very good alternative depending on the actual cost. I have seen one or two recommendations for companies that produce these but can anyone shed some light on possible manufacturers in Europe, pricing and good hand rollers that can take this kind of work, preferable in SRA3 (that's A3 with additional edges, making it 32x45cm)?

I hope I was able to stay fairly coherent and that someone has input that can help with this surprisingly difficult area.

Cheers
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Holger Doessing
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Here's a different perspective (because sometimes that's needed): How many cards could you have cut in 15 hours using one of the 'cheaper' one-card-at-a-time methods, like a guillotine cutter? I'm guessing (60*15) ~900 cards.
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Jonatan Rullman
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That is a very good insight and question. It is one that I have pondered a bit, but not all that much, and in reality I don't have enough data to make an accurate estimate.
Two minutes ago I would have said a lot less than your number, but seing it written down and reflecting upon it i will probably have to conceed that it is a fair number. At least with a more expensive guillotine cutter with proper guiding and ability to do good cuts through a smaller stack.
One sheet at the time with only lines on the flatbed I don't think that speed would be possible to achieve. But given the flexibility of the guillotine cutter, investing in a really good one would probably be a good thing for other stuff as well and also come out cheaper than many of the other alternatives, like the $300-400 PowerTrim.

I will do some more research into that. Thanks.

Anyone else have some good input on this?
 
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Jeremy Hope
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Might not be the answer you were looking for, but printerstudio.com does amazing prints of cards and they're relatively cheap. Spend $30USD or more and you get free shipping. This will probably be cheaper than acquiring tools and spending your time doing this by hand. My custom Minecraft retheme of Hanabi came out amazingly, better than the quality of many of the games I bought recently!
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Jonatan Rullman
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That looks like a great site. Can't make heads or tails of their offering at a glance but that is just a matter of taking the time to read.

At this point that is not what I'm looking for. Not because I don't like high quality work more than the next guy, but because this topic of playing cards is just a portion of the real subject. Depending on the outcome of this feedback I will also be using the same equipment and/or method for business cards and possibly other types of cards and general trimming.
So I'm pretty much devoted to purchasing quality equipment anyway. Only if the outcome is that I will purchase equipment fully dedicated to making playing cards will alternatives really be economical in that sense.
I also already have a new (although used), pretty good printer, which admittedly is so far untested, that I hope that will be able to bang into shape for some quality output. I mean, how wrong can you go with a $10000 Xerox?

Thanks for the suggestion though, I will save a bookmark for that site for when I really want top notch.

Cheers
 
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Jonatan Rullman
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I have done some thinking and more research and all in all I will go with the most flexible solution, a simple guillotine cutter. Or possibly a rotary knife one, but the principle is the same.
I would like to hear from someone who uses a rotary knife model because right now I'm pretty hung up on guillotines because they can do more papers and feel faster and more accurate.

I was surfing a few hours last night and I really have trouble finding a good one so I was hoping on getting some suggestions.
My main goal is precision, I'm going to cut a lot of cards and I really want something that lets me set a distance and then quickly go through several cycles of cutting with that distance before I have to realign.

It will need to cut SRA3, that would be a 45cm or 18" cutting span.
I'm aiming for quality, the blade must be good and the work table should be very sturdy. I would also like to have good gauges (the thing that aligns the paper parallell to the blade), ones that lie properly on the work table and have a good and simple scale so that you quickly can make precise cuts based on measurements of the papers with a ruler. If this gauge is operated by a good precision turn handle or similar then that would be excellent.
A good mechanism for locking the papers would probably be essential as well.
Due to weight it would also have to be available in Europe I believe.

This appears to be quite a tall order. I have found one model (in three sizes) that fits most of it, the MBM Ideal 1038 through 1071. It features a really nice handle for locking the papers, sound like pretty good quality and features both a front and back gauge, although I cannot seem to find good information about how they work and feel. Problem is that this machine costs a whopping $700 here in Sweden and while I would be prepared to pay that amount to get a really good machine it does feel kind of excessive.
I have also looked at Dahle's product line but can't seem to find anything that locks the papers good. Most of their line i also very expensive.
Rexel has a cutter, the CL420 i think it was, that looks pretty good and is fairly cheap (compared). But a friend of mine has the smaller model and I'm not sure I'm impressed by the quality.

Does anyone have any insight on this matter? Suggestions on manufacturers I should look into?

Cheers
 
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Gadi Oron
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Rotary knife is inaccurate and tend to "float" away from the ruler.

I am using a rotary guillotine, I think it's the best option.
 
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Jonatan Rullman
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I've been looking into more rotary knife models and found that Rotatrim's Professional series have very good reputation for accuracy and durability. They also have a "bench stop" addon which acts as a front gauge. This is quite useful and very rare so that is a good point.
If I go with rotary an M18 or an M20 is the way to go. They are a bit expensive though, about $600 in Sweden, but I suppose quality must cost.

A rotary guillotine? Haven't come across anything that could be called that. Do you have a model to recommend?

The best guillotine model I have found so far, at least judged by features and a small degree of reviews, is MBM Ideal 1058. Unfortunately it is quite anonymous whereas the Rotatrim is praised quite unanimously by hobbyists and professional photographers alike.

Cheers
 
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Gadi Oron
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Sorry, didn't read the original message. My advice is clearly not suitable for you.

I was referring more to a rotary trimmer that you covered.

I once crossed one of these http://www.ebay.com/itm/Heavy-Duty-ID-Badge-Credit-PVC-Paper... in the right size. It should make work much faster with reasonable cost.

BTW: I looked at the guillotine you intend to buy and there is no way you will be able to cut cards accurately with it. Alignment of the final card is essential and with the guides of this model you will get errors of ~2mm with is unacceptable.
 
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Jonatan Rullman
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One of those heavy duty things in the right size might be suitable. But I would still have to cut the paper into strips and then feed them into that with accuracy which seems kind of hard.

I assume that you are talking about the Ideal 1058. I can't get a good feeling for the guides on that model. It's very hard to see what kind of accuracy might be expected.
That is one of the reasons I'm leaning towards the Rotatrim M18 or M20, it has gotten superb reviews from people claiming they have used it for years in their photography studio to cut prints down to size and that should be enough accuracy to cut cards as well.

Cheers
 
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