Contour Cutting

Printing products that present excellent opportunities for contour cutting are widely used for numerous purposes by marketers and printed-product sellers. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Wall & door fabric
  • Seasonal decorations
  • Poster boards
  • Party props
  • Wind banner flags
  • Museum and gallery wall narrative
  • Sintra / PVC boards
  • Vehicle decals
  • Window clings
  • Self-adhesive removable vinyl

Contour cutting is when cutting plotter machines (like a vinyl cutter, for instance) uses an automated blade to follow a digitally predetermined path around the edge of your printed design, or in some other designated shape. That edge is known as the “contour line,” which is how the term contour cutting was coined. An easy-to-visualize example of this would be the sheet of stickers that you may have loved to play with as a child. The cutting blade slices through material like paper, vinyl, or mylar which is on a flat surface in a cutting plotter machine. Small cutting plotters, often also known as die-cut devices, recently have grown in popularity for scrapbooking, cardmaking and other craft uses for the creation of gifts, decals  and much more.

At SpeedPro, we can provide contour cutting services that accurately create a clean, crisp cut to your exact specifications. While traditional large format printing uses data from a single file, contour cutting requires 2 files: the artwork file and a special cutting file. While the art file provides the data for your design, the cutting file provides the data specific to the contour you want to cut, including the exact dimensions.

Your artwork file includes small black dots in non-printed areas that are evenly spaced. Called registration marks, they guide the cutting plotter’s blade and enable the precise cutting of your chosen material. Various printing companies will have different requirements for the size of these registration marks, but it is generally best to use one-quarter inch as the size guideline for them if you are unsure of a specific requirement.

Once you have added the registration marks into your art file, you need to create the second layer in the art file that will allow you to overlay the outlines in the cutting file. This will help you see how your cutting file aligns with your art file and detect any potential problems or mismatches between the two files.

Next, all text in the design needs to be converted to outlines to ensure there aren’t any missing fonts when the project goes into production. After this step, both files should be saved as high-quality PDFs

The cutting plotter will use the registration marks in the art file as well as the data in the digital cutting file which denotes the actual outline in order to accurately contour-cut your project. Using these two methods together allows for great precision in the cut.

Though there are a few steps, they are relatively simple. If you have any questions, SpeedPro engineers are standing by to offer guidance as needed.

ZAXY dimensional letters
Barkely & Simmons sign

Types of Contour Cutting

The two primary contour cutting choices are known as “cut through” and “kiss cut.” The method you choose really depends on what kind of material, or medium, you want to contour cut.

Cut Through contour cutting: This is perhaps the most often-used method. “Cut through” refers to the blade slicing all the way through the medium, which leaves behind your desired custom-cut shape. “Cut through” is ideal for creating big cut-outs of images and shapes. You can think of movie theater standees as examples of “cut through” contour cutting.

Kiss Cut contour cutting: “Kiss cut” contour cutting takes advantage of the precision inherent in using an automated computer-based system. This method actually controls the depth of your requested contour cuts and is utilized to create those popular sticker sheets. The top sheet of sticky material is cut while leaving the liner material beneath it completely intact.

Contour Cutting vs. Die Cutting

It is important not to confuse contour cutting with die-cutting. The die-cut process involves creating custom metal dies, or cutting stamps made of metal, that are used to repeatedly press through the material and create your shaped product. The creation of the metal die itself has a cost all in its own, in extra time and money. This is above and beyond any setup required for contour cutting done with an automated cutter plotter machine using a digital source for your design. 

For projects that require only a handful to a few hundred products, this cost may not be worth it. However, die-cutting may be a process to consider if your project involves a very high volume of custom-cut items such as specialty boxing, pocket folders, unique packages and uniquely-shaped cardboard items.

For SpeedPro’s large format digital printing, a die is not required. Our flatbed cutting plotters can cut a wide variety of media for almost any type of project you can imagine and get you the great results you want.

Partner with SpeedPro Omaha for all of your large-format printing needs.

At SpeedPro Omaha, we create marketing that is meaningful, memorable and measurable. We work with you to create visual displays that trigger powerful responses and form deep connections. We know how to take an idea and create a vision. We’re committed to serving Northeast Omaha, Northeast Lincoln and beyond with the best in large format printing.

Your marketing serves as your business’s first impression. Is it sending the right messages to your target audience? At SpeedPro, our trusted team of experts will guide you in the right direction. We take a collaborative approach to maximize your presence and share compelling visual displays with the customers you want to reach. Whether you’re looking to update a vehicle wrap or install a custom sign, SpeedPro Omaha has your back.

 

Experience the difference

SpeedPro Omaha is unlike any other large-format printing studio. From our diverse print offerings to our unrivaled customer service, we’re proud to be as unique as the businesses we serve. When you step into our studio, you won’t be treated as just another customer. You and your business are one of a kind, and we recognize that you should be treated that way. That’s what sets us apart from the competition. 

As an Omaha resident, you’re a community member, a neighbor and a friend. We’ll listen to you, problem-solve with you and create stunning marketing solutions for you. 

Contact us today for a consultation and quote!

    SpeedPro Omaha

    Studio Owners

    Alan Ferguson, John Ferguson, and Karl Fick

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