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The Comprehensive Guide to Precision Converting

Are you struggling to navigate the complexities of precision converting for your manufacturing needs? The challenge of choosing the right manufacturing process, ensuring quality, and meeting stringent manufacturing requirements can be overwhelming, especially when precision and efficiency are non-negotiable.

We understand these challenges well. With years of experience and a deep understanding of precision converting, we’ve honed our skills in various cutting processes, including rotary die cutting, flatbed die cutting, laser cutting, and more. Our expertise lies in not just executing these processes, but in understanding the nuances of each to provide the best solution for your specific needs.

In this comprehensive guide to precision converting, we’ll take you through the diverse range of precision converting processes available at PLITEK®, each with its unique advantages. You’ll gain insights into how we tailor these processes to suit different applications, considering factors like volume, material type, and complexity. We’ll equip you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about the cutting process that best suits your project, ensuring quality, efficiency, and precision every step of the way.

Whether you are involved in medical device manufacturing, electronics, automotive, or industrial sector requiring precision converting to exact specifications in material processing, this guide will serve as your essential resource. From understanding the basics of die-cutting, laser cutting, and laminating to exploring innovative methods for achieving unparalleled precision, our aim is to equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to excel in this complex field.

Exploring the Versatility of Precision Converting Processes at PLITEK®

PLITEK® offers a diverse range of die cutting and converting processes, each tailored to meet the unique demands of our clients’ projects. Our primary cutting methods include rotary die cutting, flatbed die cutting, laser cutting, knife cutting, and hybrid processes – a combination of several methods for optimal results.

Rotary Die Cutting: Efficiency and Precision

Rotary die cutting is a manufacturing process used to cut, shape, and form materials using a cylindrical die on a rotary press. The die, which has the cutting pattern, rotates in sync with the material as it moves though the press.

Rotary die cutting stands out for its speed and efficiency making it suitable for large scale manufacturing. Capable of running webs at hundreds of feet per minute, this process excels in removing slugs in line, ensuring continuous, uninterrupted production. Its ability to island place and reduce material scrap makes it an economical choice. 

One of the most significant advantages of rotary die cutting is the ability to manipulate tension in webs, allowing us to handle complex applications involving multiple webs, die cutting, and laminating—all within precise registration. Our servo-driven, electromechanical equipment is adept at managing advanced-level components and processes.

Flatbed Die Cutting: Ideal for Speed to Market and Lower Volume Applications

Flatbed die cutting, or steel rule die cutting, is a process used to cut, shape, and form materials using a flat die on a press. Unlike rotary die cutting, which uses a cylindrical die, flatbed die cutting uses a stationary, flat die that presses down onto the material to create the desired shapes. The material is placed on a flat surface and the die, mounted on a press, moves up and down to cut through the material.

Flatbed die cutting is known for its quick turnaround, making it perfect for projects requiring a faster speed to market. The tools used in this process are generally lower in cost and can be procured within days. This method is particularly effective for larger part sizes and a variety of foams, making it versatile for lower volume applications. While not matching the volume output of rotary die cutting, flatbed die cutting offers a balance of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, especially for projects where ultra-tight tolerances are not as critical.

Laser Cutting: Precision and Quick Turnaround

Laser cutting is a manufacturing process that uses a high-powered laser beam to cut materials with high precision. The laser beam is directed at the material, melting, burning, or vaporizing it to create clean and accurate cuts. This process is controlled by computer numerical control (CNC) systems, which allow for precise and complex designs to be executed.

Laser Cutting provides a unique value in our precision converting processes. It produces a complex cut with tight tolerances, making it ideal for applications like cutting open-face adhesives or parts that need to avoid re-welding. Its rapid prototyping capability allows for the same-day cutting of parts, offering unparalleled speed to market. We often combine laser cutting with other processes, such as laminating and rotary die cutting, to utilize the best of each method depending on the material and process requirements.

Laser cutting is widely used to manufacture components for aerospace, automotive, electronics, medical device manufacturing, and custom fabrication.

Hybrid Cutting: Innovative Solutions

Our hybrid cutting approach includes techniques such as combining rotary and laser die cutting, combination of other processes, or using match metal dies on rotary presses. These dies, while more expensive and with longer lead times, offer remarkable durability and maintenance advantages. For instance, a match metal rotary die might only require punch and die replacement every year and a half to two years, despite running two shifts a day. This technology represents a significant advancement in cutting processes, providing longevity and precision.

Tailoring Cutting Processes to Application Needs: PLITEK®‘s Approach

Our team understands that selecting the right cutting or converting process for an application is a nuanced decision that hinges on several critical factors. Our approach is to carefully consider each aspect to ensure the most efficient and effective outcome for our clients.

Key Considerations in Process Selection:

  • Volume: The scale of production plays a significant role in determining the appropriate cutting process. For smaller volume applications, a flatbed solution might be more suitable due to its flexibility and quicker setup.
  • Tolerance Requirements: The precision needed in the final product is a crucial factor. While rotary die cutting generally offers tighter tolerances, hybrid approaches like machine cavity punches or chemically etched plate dies can achieve extremely high precision.
  • Material Type and Thickness: Different materials and their thicknesses can significantly influence the choice of cutting process. Each method has its strengths and limitations in handling various materials, affecting the quality and feasibility of the final product.
  • Complexity of Lamination and Geometry: Projects involving multiple webs, intricate lamination, or complex geometries require careful consideration. The chosen process must accommodate these complexities, ensuring accurate registration and integrity of the final product.
  • Slug Removal: Project requiring slug removal and its handling (in-line or offline) can impact the process choice. This factor is particularly relevant in high-volume applications where efficiency and waste reduction are paramount.

PLITEK®‘s Team-Based Engineering Approach:

Our process setup and selection are not unilateral decisions. Instead, they are the result of a collaborative, team-based approach. We engage in extensive discussions, drawing on boards, and conducting risk analysis to select the process that offers the least risk and highest yield. This collaborative approach ensures that we consider all aspects of the project, from engineering challenges, production efficiency, to scalability.

By taking a holistic view of each project, our team helps to ensure that the chosen cutting or converting process aligns perfectly with the specific requirements of the application. This meticulous attention to detail in process selection is a testament to our commitment to delivering optimal results for our clients, regardless of the project’s complexity or scale.

Diverse Product Supply Options for Every Client’s Needs

There are different options in how precision converted products are supplied such as roll form, piece form, or sheet form. This can significantly impact a clients’ operations. That’s why PLITEK® offers a variety of product supply options to cater to the diverse needs of our clients, ensuring flexibility and efficiency in every project.

Roll Form: The Most Common and Efficient Supply Method

  • Roll form is our most common method of supplying products. It’s akin to how roll labels are supplied in the labeling industry.
  • This method is highly efficient and fast, making it ideal for a wide range of applications.

Piece Form: An Alternative for Specific Requirements

  • Piece form is another option we provide. In this method, parts are dispensed on a conveyor, single-stacked, and then bagged.
  • While not as fast as roll form, piece form is a viable option for certain applications where individual pieces are required.

Sheet Form: Versatility for Unique Applications

  • We also supply products in sheet form, where several parts are placed on a sheet, shingle-stacked, and then packed.
  • This method is similar to piece form and is used when specific packing or assembly requirements are present.

Pouch Packaging: For Retail and Consumer-Focused Products

  • In addition to roll, piece, and sheet forms, we offer pouch packaging. This method is particularly suitable for products destined for retail environments.
  • Pouch packaging involves taking parts off a rotary die cutter onto a conveyor, then feeding them into a pouching operation. This method is ideal for products that need to be sold in individual packages, such as whitening strips.

Customization to Meet Client Needs

Our team prides itself on the ability to customize the product supply method based on the specific needs and requirements of our clients.

Whether it’s high-volume efficiency with roll form, the specificity of piece or sheet form, or the consumer-friendly pouch packaging, we have the capability and flexibility to provide the best solution.

Our diverse range of product supply options reflects our commitment to meeting the unique needs of each client. By offering these varied ‘put ups,’ we ensure that our clients receive their products in the most efficient, practical, and suitable manner for their specific applications.

When to Choose a Manufacturing Process

The best time to consider the type of manufacturing process is at the very beginning of a project, even as early as the prototyping stage. 

This early consideration is crucial for several reasons:

Early Integration for Scalability and Efficiency

  • Understanding Requirements: Early in the process, it’s vital to understand the customer’s requirements, tolerances, and the types of materials involved. This understanding plays a significant role in how to engineer and design the part.
  • Scalability: As projects evolve and scale, the manufacturing process may need to adapt from lower to higher volume production. Considering the manufacturing process early ensures that scalability is built into the project from the start. While the temptation to scale up rapidly for higher throughput can be strong, it can lead to significant challenges. Premature scaling without proper validation and risk assessment can result in complications that could have been avoided.
  • Risk Assessment: Starting with a smaller scale allows for a thorough assessment of risks and challenges associated with the project. This approach helps in mitigating potential issues that might arise in high-volume production.
  • Tooling Design: In many cases, we design tooling on a smaller scale initially (one-up or two-up) to get a clear understanding of the process, material behavior, and reaction during the cutting process. This step is crucial for ensuring the feasibility and success of the project.

Start with PLITEK®

Ready to see how we can help your business solve engineering and manufacturing challenges? 

PLITEK® is an ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485:2016 certified global converting leader.