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FLAAR Reports glossary of digital flatbed cutters for signage, display, furniture, décor, and packaging


The idea for a glossary originated because FLAAR Reports is first and foremost an institute dedicated to education. We noticed the rise in the need of digital XY cutters for diverse applications but there was no resource anywhere to help provide a general introduction.

Trade magazines publish nice lists of manufacturers of cutters, but had no exhaustive definition of all the different kinds of cutters and trade magazines, since they depend on advertising and PR releases, can’t really discuss the downsides, deficiencies, and weaknesses of any particular brand or model. But an evaluation institute that has its own inherent concern about a technology, and which wishes to learn the pros and cons in order to decide what system to use for its own applications.

Once we learn which technology is optimal, and which brand and model offer ideal features, then we publish our own results for others to benefit from our research and experience. Our glossary is based on technical definition translated in our words to simplify the content.

There are two main kinds of serious cutter for flat and rigid materials; of each kind of cutter there are many brands.

• XY flatbed cutter, such as Aristo, Zünd or Kongsberg.
• CNC router, such as MultiCam, AXYZ

FLAAR Reports’s glossary of digital flatbed cutters


A-Axis, the axis of circular motion of a machine tool member or slide about the X-axis. Values along the A-axis are degrees of rotation about the X-axis.

Acceleration, rate of change in velocity. If you are cutting a lot of material 24/7, then you need a brand and model that has high acceleration. If you are cutting only samples just a few times a day, you need less acceleration. With a digital flatbed cutter you will also learn to handle velocity, depth of cutting, tool-up angle. For kiss-cutting tools you may handle knife pressure.

Alphanumeric, a system of code that consists of the characters A-Z and numerals 0-9.

APT Programming, Automatically Programmed Tools. A universal computer assisted programing system for multi-axis contouring programming.

ATC: Automatic Tool Changer.

Axis, an imaginary straight line through the center of a space or the center of an object (or flatbed table). But in cutters and printers the X-axis is perpendicular to the Y-axis. The Y-axis is the left to right movement of the printhead carriage on a flatbed printer or the side-to-side movement of the tool head carriage on a flatbed digital cutter. The Z-axis is up and down.

B-Axis, the axis of circular motion of a machine tool member or slide about the Y-axis.

Bevel knife tool, for making bevel-cuts. Bevel-cuts in thick heavy materials like Re-Board requires strength not normally available with tooling for cutting thinner and softer materials.

C-Axis, is the axis of circular motion of a machine tool member or slide about the Z-axis. C-axis values are degrees of rotation about the Z-axis.

CAD, Computer-Aided Design. The computer converts the design produced by the CAD software into numbers. This numbers can be considered to be the coordinates of a graph and they control the movement of the cutter (the computer controls the cutting and shaping of the material).

CAM, Computer Aided Manufacturing. CAM software makes the CAD drawing/design into a code called g-code. This code the CNC machine can understand.

Camera detection, automatic detection of register marks for accurate cut to print alignment. Based on camera and image detection software.

CNC Computer Numerically Controlled. The CNC is controlled by a computer and works on the Cartesian coordinate system (X, Y, Z) for 3D motion control.

Contour, curved edge surface that you cut to create your final object.

Creasing tool, designed for creasing corrugated, folding carton and plastic materials.

Creasing wheel means exactly what is says, a wheel that creases the material. Creasing wheels for the Kongsberg KE system come in 15 mm and 26mm diameter.

Drill, is a common household or industrial machining tool used to perforate a material and create a round hole.

Face milling, the cutting action occurs primarily at the end corners of the milling cutter. Face milling is used to cut flat surfaces (faces) into the work piece, or to cut flat-bottomed cavities.

Finishing means the part of the signage or display or comparable workflow where a print is cut, trimmed, contour-cut, top-coated, laminated, etc.

G-Code, common name for the programming language that controls NC and CNC machine tools.

Head; is the main component of a tool-carrying carriage. A carriage (which rides along the side of a gantry which crosses the Y-axis).

ISO, International Organization of Standardization.

Kiss-cut is a method of cutting through the facestock of label paper or other material, but not through the liner.

Mill, machining tool used to either horizontally or vertically remove metal from the surface of a work piece.

Multi-pass, the numbers of times to perform cutting, is set when cutting a work that cannot be cut by performing cutting once.

Vacuum table suction for firm and dependable material hold-down.

Vector a mathematical quantity that has both a magnitude and direction.

X-axis, is the axis forward and back from one end of the table to the other (side to side is the Y-axis).


During FESPA 2017 Nicholas Hellmuth, Maria Renee Ayau and Pablo M. Lee (FLAAR Reports staff members) visited Aristo headquarters in Hamburg, Germany.


For more information Suscribe and download our CNC glossary report.


X-Axis is the axis forward and back from one end of the table to the other.

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