Build A Plotter/Cutter System
At Carlson Design we believe in customer oriented solutions. This means we provide stand alone products, turn key solutions, and everything in between. Use the "system builder" below to add as many or as few components necessary to automate your cutting room.
Check the "?" symbol in each section for information and tips on why you might want to add a feature or product. We also offer many Do-It-Yourself solutions. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Depending on your industry and application (see "Industry Guide", "Cutting Guide", and "Success Stories" for more details, suggestions, and examples) we have a model to meet your plotting/cutting needs. To quickly break down:
Studio Plotter/Cutter: Designed for sample cutting, pattern development, and smaller design-cut-sew operations, the Studio is our most compact and affordable system. The STx is a lightweight, single-arm machine using a custom extrusion combining exceptionally strong mechanical structure and guides for the multi-tool head.
Classic Plotter/Cutter: The CTx is our most popular model plotter/cutter. It is designed to be simple, reliable, and operate in everything but the most demanding production environments. It has a custom aluminum extruded dual-rail design that allows it to be very rigid, yet very light weight.
Pro Plotter/Cutter: The PT is our most industrial model, designed to operate 24/7 in the most demanding, high-speed, dirty working, or production environments. It uses our largest motors, has stretched drive plates, over spec'd components, and steel guide rails. The PT is our only model available for ultra wide widths over 84".
Standard width for a Carlson Design plotter/cutter is 72". The active working area for plot/cut is 8" less (203mm less) than the machine width. At 72", our systems accommodate most popular bolt sizes -- up to 64" wide rolls. Use your standard material width to determine the proper plotter/cutter width for your application. Remember, if you plan to cut wider material in the future, it is significantly less expensive to plan ahead. For models wider than 84", you must choose the Pro Model.Available Machine Widths:
- STx: 48", 60", 72", 84" or 1219mm, 15245mm, 1829mm, 2134mm
- CTx: 60", 72", 78", 84" or 1524mm, 1829mm, 1981mm, 2134mm
- PT: 60", 72", 84", 96", 108", 120", 126" or 1524mm, 1829mm, 2134mm, 2438mm, 2743mm, 3048mm, 3200mm.
Custom widths are $1000/ft. Non-standard custom widths and ultra-wide systems available on request. Plot Only systems available on request.
Check the "Instury Guide" to see which width is most popular for your industry. Roy Chism of The Chism Company says, "The wider the better!"
Choosing a Table Length:
Before we talk about our Phillocraft vacuum tables -- remember, you can always build your own vac uable or convert an existing table to vacuum. We can help with plans. Having said that, we offer a very simple and sturdy production vacuum table. Our vacuum tables are steel frame with composite, drop-in tops. They are built to width, in endless, 4' long sections. It is easy to add or remove a section at anytime.
Table length is typically determined by two factors -- average job size and plant space. If space is a critical issue, we have many solutions, including plans to loft your table and our "virtual table" software. See our virtual tables blog for more details. For efficiency, it is important to size your table long enough to continually cut all or most of your average pattern-set in a single run (ie. all the parts to an arm chair). To optimize material usage, you will "Nest" parts to fill your table. Longer tables are more efficient because they allow you to fit more parts in a single nest without needing to pulling cut parts or spread new material. Average table length is 24' long (7315mm long). Check our "Industry Guide" to see what length is most popular for your industry.
You will need access to at least 2 sides of the vacuum table. Overhead cabling comes standard. "E-chain" or custom cable management available upon request. The tables have an open frame, allowing for storage underneath.
Carlson Design provides up to 24' of table track free with purchase of a vacuum table. Tables longer than 24' are charged $50/additional table foot. If you decided to build your own table, Carlson Design Supertrack is available for $50/ table ft.
How to Select a Vacuum Blower:
Our vacuum tables can be plumbed with any model or size vacuum blower. Even if you decide to build your own table, you are still welcome to purchase vacuum blowers from Carlson Design. You will need to select a vacuum blower or blowers that meet both your building's power requirements and can secure your material during plotting/cutting. To start -- 3 phase power blowers are more powerful, efficient, and cost effective. Unless your building only has single phase power available (no big deal!) or you are working on a smaller vacuum table (12' long or shorter), then we recommend a 3phase blower. If you only have access to single phase, you can plumb your table with multiple 1HP or 1.5HP single phase blowers. This is common in older facilities.
Most applications call for one 3HP or 5HP, 3phase, radial blower. For porous material (sail shade, fiberglass, etc...) or multi-ply cutting, it may be necessary to use multiple blowers, larger regenerative blowers, and/or require you vacuum bag your material with thin plastic sheeting.
Our radial blowers are high-volume, medium-pressure blowers. If you cover your table with non porous material and create a good vacuum seal, it requires very little vacuum to secure your material. Drag blades can shift material during cutting, especially with thicker material -- for certain applications it may be necessary to use larger vacuum blowers to secure your material. For one-off or custom projects requiring a lot of vacuum, we recommend our Mini-Vacuum Blowers. They are inexpensive and provide a lot of suction for low cost-- unfortunately they only last for 500hrs and are loud -- if you need a lot of suction all the time, you probably need a regenerative blower.
See our industry guide and material cutting guide for help choosing the right vacuum blower for your application. When in doubt, feel free to contact Carlson Design, and remember you can never have too much vacuum.
- Available Sizes: 1/3HP, 1HP, 1.5HP, 3HP, 5HP
- Best Application 1.5HP blowers best when 3phase power is not available
- Strengths: Single phase blowers are inexpensive and relatively quiet. Adding additional blowers is easy if needed
- Weaknesses: For best vacuum, requires a good seal. Not powerful enough for porous or heavier material
- Available Sizes: 3HP, 5HP, 7HP
- Best Application: Porous material or multi-ply custting
- Strengths: Very powerful and efficient
- Weaknesses: High price and requires 3phase power
Mini Pancake Blower:
- Available Sizes: 0.7HP
- Strengths: Inexpensive. High volume and lots of suction
- Weaknesses: Loud. 500HR average life
Plumbing and Overhead cabling included with table purchase. Cutting surface sold separately. We recommend using flexible plumbing for most applications, however regenerative blowers require hard PVC plumbing.
Which Blade Holder:
The Carlson Design multi-tool head comes standard with a pen holder and steered cutting tool holder. The cutter holds our magnetic mount, quick change tool holders. These holders can be swapped in seconds to quickly cut different materials and applications.
Our standard magnetic mount cutting tool, included no charge with your plotter/cutter, is a 28mm steel rotary blade holder. The steel rotary blade holder is designed to cut most textile applications. Depending on your application, you can select a different "standard" cutting tool. Confirm the best cutting tool for your application by consult our material cutting guide.
Since our magnetic mount blade holders are so easy to swap, we recommend you have a variety of tool holders on hand to increase your plotter/cutter's versatility. The holders are easy to add now, or later.
If you have a custom application or require a specialty cutting tool, please contact Carlson Design.
You need a Computer:
Carlson Design Plotter/Cutters are 100% software controlled. Our latest software (PMXP) is designed to run on a Windows XP PC. You can setup your own computer or we can preload and test a PC designed specifically for to run your system.
Our software is easy to operate, however setting up your own computer requires a basic understanding of configuring a Windows PC. If you are not tech savvy, we encourage you to purchase your system preloaded. If you get your own computer we recommend at least a 2GHz processor (preferably dual core), Windows XP 32bit, with at least 256MG RAM and 10GIG storage. Your PC will need a legacy addressed LPT port and configured to EPP mode. International customers need to change their global settings to US.
Our PC's are optimized to operate our equipment. They are networkable, come preloaded with our virtual help session software, and have been tested and calibrated to your machine's settings. If you purchase onsite commissioning, you must purchase a Carlson Design preloaded and tested PC.
Carlson Design plotter/cutters are extremely reliable. Since 1987 our systems averaged $47/year in service and maintenance costs. We engineered our plotter/cutter to use reliable, off-the-shelf components that are affordable and easy to service.
Since our systems are so reliable, most domestic (US) customers service their equipment with UPS or FedEx part delivery. For production facilities where down time is a critical problem or for international customers facing expensive delivery and customs duties, we recommend our spare parts kit. We studied 10 years of service orders and compiled a kit that includes all parts and tools to allow you to diagnose and service any problem in-house.
To operate your plotter/cutter, you will need access access to a computer monitor (any size), keyboard, and mouse. These will need to be connected to your plotter/cutter computer.
For your convenience, Carlson Design offers an operators workstation with 14" or 16" monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Our stand-up operators workstation is mounted to a sturdy 5 point roller wheel base. The simples station is designed to also manage your computer, control, and power cables.
If you prefer, you can do anything you like for a computer stand/ workstation. You can place a desk near the cutter, wall mount your monitor and keyboard, or come up with your own setup to suit your plotter/cutter operator.
Note: We like the stand-up operator's workstation design because we spend most our time designing parts to plot/cut at our desks and then share them via network or jump drive to our plotter/cutter computer. This makes the stand-up workstation ideal for quick, easy, operation -- and we can roll it out of the way when we are done. If you plan to design at your plotter/cutter computer (you can design at almost any computer), then we recommend setting up a desk/ comfortable sitting work area near the plotter/cutter.
There are several ways to pattern. You can make basic patterns in Carlson Design PartMaker, You can import from most CAD software, or you can use Carlson Design hardware to digitize existing or hand-drawn patterns. All Carlson Design plotter/cutters can digitize patterns with the keyboard, however if you have a large physical pattern library or are unfamiliar with CAD software, then you can trace your patterns quickly and manually with our T-Bar Digitizer. The T-bar allows you to digitizes (create electronic patterns) as quickly and accurately as you can move the targeting head around an existing pattern - offsets are immediately stored on the PC when you hit the record button. It slides into your Plotter/Cutter Supertrack to create a digitizing bed as big as your plot/cut table or it can be mounted remotely with purchase of additional track.
The T-bar Digitizer includes Windows software for desktop or laptop use, allowing full-scale patterns to be captured without rescaling or distortion. Pattern pieces are saved and exported as Carlson files for immediate plot/cut or edit in Carlson Design PatterEditor software or as DXF files for editing in most CAD software. The digitizer connects to a USB port, and is extremely light and portable. It requires a current Supertack installation.
Available in 60"-84" widths. Custom widths available on request. The T-bar Digitizer can be wall-mounted, or mounted in a remote location to allow designers to share patterns with an off-site manufacturer. The digitizer is designed to mimic traditional patterning -- making operation familiar. The T-bar can be added to your Carlson Design plotter/cutter system at anytime.
Carlson Design plotter/cutter systems are very simple, therefore many users choose to install themselves. We provide free phone and email support for the life of our machines and can provided detailed manuals, training videos, and specifications to help you setup and install your own plotter/cutter.
If you would like our help, we provide world wide onsite commissioning, which includes installation and training. No one knows our system better than we do, so we will can help you start plotting/cutting real jobs as quickly as possible.
Having a Carlson Design install extends your warranty coverage 6 months. You must purchase a Carlson Design preloaded and tested computer with Onsite Commissioning. Add travel expense. You are also welcome to wait, familiarize yourself with our system, and have us come for a few days training at anytime.
DISCLAIMER: Warranty does not apply if the product has been altered, modified, or damaged. Carlson Design warrants that the goods are as described above, but Carlson Design and its employees make no other warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, INCLUDING ANY WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY, IMPLIED WARRANT OF FITNESS OF THE PRODUCT FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE EVEN IF THAT PURPOSEIS KNOWN TO CARLSON DESIGN, or any warranty relating to patents, trademarks, copyrights or other intellectual property. If any model was shown or demonstrated, such model and demonstration was done merely to illustrate the general type and quality of the goods and not to represent that the goods would necessarily be of that type or nature. Used equipment is sold as is, where is, with NO WARRANTY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED or right of return. Carlson Design shall not be liable for any injury, loss, damage, or loss of profits resulting from the handling or use of its products. A finance charge of 1.5% per month (18% annual percentage rate) will be charged on all past due amounts. THERE IS A 15% RESTOCKING FEE ON ALL RETURNED ITEMS. Reasonable attorney fees will also be charged by seller in the event of any action proceeding for collection of the sums billed on the invoice. Sale governed by and subject to the laws of the State of Oklahoma.