Laser Cutting Leadership Interview with Mike Bacon

Spartanics is one of North America’s top manufacturers of laser cutting systems as well as other industrial automation products. Laser cutting systems are the digital die cutting

devices that have become a growing option for finishing labels and, to a very small extent, folding cartons and other packaging. Spartanics and its competitors all offer finishing that
allows on-demand die cutting, regardless of the shape of the label, but without the use of a metal die. Clients who attended Label Expo in September 2012 likely saw the Spartanics
L-350 digital die cutter operating in a laser die cutting technology demonstration, one that showed the L-350 in operation on the show floor along with competing products
from AB Graphics, Delta Industrial, and SEI. In each case, the basic concept is the same: digitally driven galvanometers (galvos) direct the beam from a powerful laser source to
burn or ablate lines in label facestock, allowing the unprinted matrix to be removed and yielding finished labels on a liner.

Spartanics, founded in 1963, got its start providing industrial automation equipment,initially optical registration cutting equipment for finishing metal name plates used in car manufacturing. The company has since come to provide other types of automation, such as counting equipment, but the core of it business is still in registration cutting in systems, both analog and digital, for not just labels but also for plastic cards, forms, and printed electronics. This month, we had a chance to interview Michael Bacon, VP of sales and marketing for Spartanics, based at their headquarters in Illinois.

Key Findings

  • Laser cutting is digital die cutting, a digital alternate to analog die cutting for label finishing. Laser cutting can also die cut folding cartons, but that use is rare.
  • Because of improved laser light sources and software, laser cutters can die cut some label jobs at speeds up to 100 meters per minute, and meet cutting accuracy tolerances under +/-0.1mm.
  • Label converters using laser cutting for digital print jobs gain faster turnaround because they do not have to schedule analog dies or, in some cases, create them, thereby saving time and money.
  • Laser cutting is a good partner for the digital label printing because it can finish multiple short runs easily with no dies to change out.
  • Most laser cutters work at converters with color digital presses. Meanwhile, converters with laser cutting most often also have analog processes in their shops for printing and finishing.
  • Analog die cutting will remain the best option for long runs of labels because of its high speed, but laser cutting will be paired with it to speed finishing of short runs, allowing metal die cutters to handle mainly long runs.

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