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Summa F1612

Berni Raeside explores the market of affordable flatbed cutting and how the demand for custom cut graphics has caused the growth of more able equipment such as the Summa F1612

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Pictured (L to R): Charlie Bukovets, managing director of Sticky Media and Doug Gilbertson, managing director, CWE

No cutting corners

I would not mind betting that almost every single one of you will have either owned or used a vinyl cutter at some point in your career. In the sign-making industry, the professional cutting of signs and graphics goes hand-in-hand with producing quality prints and professional finishing.

Though the craft of automatic cut-ting has been around almost as long as the original pen plotters, flatbed cutting has sometimes been viewed as the machine for the future; for ‘when we’re bigger’ or ‘when we’ve got more money’.

Since its launch, Summa has continued to develop new accessories, modules and cutting tools to make the F1612 a very flexible and efficient modular system for the growing sign-maker

A quick history lesson then. Back in the late nineties when the likes of CalComp, Summagraphics and Mutoh swapped Staedlter pens in their CAD Pen plotters for a dragknife, the world of professional finishing was trans-formed and the vinyl cutter was born.

Since then, many brands have emerged and risen to the top of the market for flatbed in particular. But as I mentioned, many of these were out of reach because of the price constraints. With the launch of the F1612 at FESPA in 2010, Summa sought to change the perception of needing to buy at high cost to get high quality. Its introduction has enabled sign-makers and display graphics companies to enter this section of the market at a lower price point than before.

Developing new accessories

Since its launch, Summa has continued to develop new accessories, modules and cutting tools to make the F1612 a very flexible and efficient modular system for the growing sign-maker. In 2011, it won Best Wide Format Finishing Device at the prestigious European Digital Press Awards.

The multi-function head holds up to three modules at one time and the central unit houses an integrated camera system and LED pointer, which allows for accurate contour cutting mark registration. The machine can also automatically recognise which modules are installed.

The Summa F1612 comes standard with the drag knife module and the optical marker system. The drag module can be used with the pen tool for making notations or drawing, or a knife tool for kiss-cutting a wide range of materials and vinyl with 600 grams of down force.

The router module was launched in 2012 and the pneumatic oscillating tool followed the next year, making the F1612 now possibly one of the most versatile affordable cutters on the market.

Since 2010, Summa has developed new accessories, modules and cutting tools to meet the demands of the growing sign-maker

So are there any downsides? Well, it is not the quickest on the market for sure, but it is more than acceptable for everyday use in a medium sized sign-making or graphic display company. It is also solid and affordable and comes with a two year on-site warranty in the UK with a street price of around £31k to £35k plus VAT, depending on the installation type and the tools or modules purchased..

The conveyor system is optional and the media support rollers allow the cutting and creasing of large lengths of flexible substrates.

The Tangential module is probably the most versatile of the three, offering up to eight tools for specific jobs including single- and double-edge cut out tools, creasing wheels, V-cut tools and the electronic and pneumatic osci-llating tools, designed to cut through thick materials up to 25mm in depth.

The V-cut tool is available in five different angles and is designed to cut a V-shaped groove in rigid sandwich and foam composite boards up to 27mm, depending on the materials’ density.

The standard model of the F1612 can be fitted with a multi-function head

Several creasing wheels are also available and designed in different depths and radius sizes for creasing and scoring paper, cartons, polypropylene, and PVC materials.

One of the most interesting modules I found on the Summa F1612 is the routing module. It is designed to handle most solid boards in the graphic display industry like foam PVC, acrylic and alu-foam boards but it can also handle other materials such as wood and MDF. Of course the routing speed will vary considerably depend-ing on the density of the material. 

If you are considering the F1612 for routing, you will be glad to know it comes with a vacuum cleaning kit to take away unwanted chips and dust, but I would also invest in a heavy duty dust buster to have on hand for any major jobs. Also worth noting is that the routing module uses two of the three available module slots when in use, but it also comes with a mounting kit in the pack. This means you can mount the routing module away from the multi-function head when it is not in use and all three slots become available again.

For early adopters of the F1612, you will be glad to know that the routing module is backward compatible prov-iding you have a 3-phase power con-nection. You do not need to purchase any further software either as the standard SummaFlex or Summa-Flex Pro can already drive the router.

Does what it says on the tin

If you frequent some of the online sign forums you will see that a lot of sign-makers and display graphics companies are using their Summa F1612’s for prototype packaging, and Summa seems to have made this an easy market to dip your toes in with Impact’s packaging software available for creating interesting shapes and 3D designs for point-of-sale and sampling.

For early adopters of the F1612, you will be glad to know that the routing module is backward compatible prov-iding you have a 3-phase power connection

A colleague of mine recently spoke with Charlie Bukovets, managing director at Sticky Media who purchased a Summa F1612 from City and West End Solutions and he noted that it was the ability of the machine to produce a wide range of branding solutions that would help him stay on top of his game. He says: “We hope the new Summa in conjunction with our HP Latex printers will also help us expand further into creating anything from a huge outdoor screen for a theme park, through to large POS projects for major car dealership networks, with the superior contour cutting and print quality.”

All in all, the Summa F1612 does what it says on the tin—and it does exactly what Summa has always done—brought quality affordable tools to market, without cutting corners.
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