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The Rotary Trimmer and Cutter – How You Choose the Right One

In this article, we would like to describe the technology and features of the rotary trimmer* & rotary cutter in more detail.

Rotary trimmers – the most important facts at a glance

  • Rotary trimmers cut the paper by rolling a circular blade over the sheet of paper.
  • With rotary trimmers, individual sheets or photos can be cut very easily. In addition, many trimmers have interchangeable blades that can also be used to cut patterns (e.g., zig-zag or deckle cut).
  • Rotary trimmers are used for crafting and for the accurate cutting of photos.
  • Advantages:
    • Precise cuts, even with long cutting-lengths
    • Ideal for handicrafts
    • Self-sharpening blades
  • Disadvantages:
    • Relatively small cutting heights
  • Popular machines for crafting or photo-cutting in A4 format are the Dahle 507, the Zoomyo, or the Fiskars Surecut. For cutting lengths up to A3, we recommend the Dahle 508 and the Dahle 552.

Tip: If you are interested in rotary cutters, we recommend our article “The Rotary Cutter – Cutter & Ruler” and our product descriptions of rotary cutters. In our article Basic knowledge of Paper Cutting Machines, we describe the features and technical functions that are very similar for each type of paper-cutting machine.
Furthermore, we have identified the advantages and disadvantages of the rotary cutter to help you choose a suitable cutting machine

Structure and function of the rotary trimmer

The principle behind the rotary trimmer is quite simple. A circular blade is passed over the cutting material and is cut by the sharp edge and by the pressure exerted. The round blade is positioned in a closed sheath, often a plastic head.

Rotary cutter / winder - Consistent angle & lever knife
Rotary trimmers & cutters – fixed angle & lever

Due to the use of a round blade, the cutting angle and cutting lever (=distance between the axis of the round blade and the point at which the cut is being made) are consistent over the entire cutting length and in both directions in the case of a winder.

This means that the force required to push and press is always the same for the same paper thickness, which makes the winder so pleasant to operate.
The roller blade is attached to a rail in such a way that the round blade can be moved back and forth horizontally, cutting the paper in the process. The guide rail itself is attached to the cutting table in the roller cutter.

That’s it for the basic design.

Bestsellers rotary trimmers & cutters

Slitting trimmers

Rotary trimmers are also offered in combination with a simple knife. This means that the round blade, as in a carpet knife, is replaced by a non-rotating blade. Although this solution is simpler and therefore cheaper, it is often not possible to cut thicker materials. Also, most will know this if they have ever cut paper or cardboard with a wallpaper or carpet knife, this type of paper cutter tends to fray the paper.

The different types of rotary trimmers

The cutting mechanism can be of different design depending on the rotary trimmer.

For example, the circular knife can press against another cutting edge also known as a bottom knife. I.e. the rotary cutter rolls the blade along the cutting edge. We will talk about the advantages of the roller cutter later, but this technique has the great advantage that it allows self-sharpening, which greatly improves durability in the long run.

The second type of rotary cutter is realized more simply. The circular blade only presses against the table. Self-sharpening is not possible with this version. On the other hand, these solutions are much cheaper.

Challenges in configuring the rotary trimmers

Rotary cutters - Bearing Mechanism
Rotary cutters – Bearing Mechanism

So far, everything sounds great. Guided cutting, self-sharpening. But is there a catch? Well, due to the guided cutting with the trimmer along a rail, this construction must still allow precise cuts as well as be durable. This is where the professional devices differ decisively from the hobby devices.

In the drawing we have schematically shown what the challenge is. The circular blade of the winder must be at a ninety-degree angle to the table or paper in any position for a clean cut. If a ninety-degree angle is not given, it can happen, on the one hand, that the uppermost sheets of a stack have a different sizes than the lower sheets. In addition, if the rotary cutter cannot maintain the angle over the entire length of the cut, there is a possibility that a straight cut will not be produced. You can only achieve an optimum cutting result with a winder if the optimum angle is permanently applied. This can be compared to a pair of scissors. If one of the blades is not optimally positioned in relation to the other, the cut will not be clean.

Let’s get back to the illustration. The round blade of a rotary cutter must rotate, which is why a shaft is positioned in the center of the blade, attached to one or, as in the figure, two bearings. This allows the round blade of a trimmer to be rotated. In addition, the ball bearings must still be attached to the rail of the cutter in such a way that the round blade can be moved along it stably and precisely but also not too sluggishly. In the figure we have shown a round guide rail along which the cutting head is moved. Other ball bearings along a rail or rails, as in train tracks, would also be conceivable.

This rough schematic illustration is intended to show the conceptual challenges that must be overcome to achieve a precise cut with a rotary cutter. This is the big difference from the lever cutter, because here the mechanics are designed differently.

Features Rotary Cutters

Dahle 508 Papierschneider (6 Blatt Schneidleistung, bis DIN A3) blau*
  • Die neue Generation Rollenschneider für schnelles und präzises Schneiden von Papier, Fotos und Folie mit verbesserter Ergonomie ("Zwei-Finger-Bedienung") und Präzisions-Winkelanlagen
  • Die Schneidemaschine schafft 6 Blatt Papier (80 g/m²) gleichzeitig, die mit einer Pressschiene inkl. Markierungshilfen fixiert werden. Größte Schnittlänge: 460 mm (DIN A3); Schnitthöhe: 0, 6 mm
  • Papierschneidemaschine mit stabilem Metalltisch (589 x 209 mm) und rutschfesten Gummifüßen. Optimierte Tischbedruckung für den Beschnitt von Standardformaten (metrische & imperiale Bemaßung)
  • Der kindersichere und geschlossene Messerkopf kann schnell gewechselt werden. Die unverlierbare Führungsstangenverriegelung hilft beim einfachen Messerkopfwechsel
  • Für dieses Schneidgerät ist das Creativ-Set Dahle 981 mit drei Schneideköpfen für Perforation, Falzen- und Büttenschnitt erhältlich

Cutting height and formats

Simple trimmers are inexpensive, but due to the precision, the achievable cutting height and maximum cutting length (max. possible DIN A format), they are more suitable for home users or for hobby applications. Precise rotary trimmers with greater cutting heights (>1mm) and for larger formats are correspondingly more expensive, but can then also be used in the (semi-) professional sector.

Rotary Cutters and their cutting heights

RollenschneiderSchnitt-höheBlatt-anzahlca. Preis*DIN Mehr Infos
Peach PC100-180,2mm219,89€A4Ansehen*
Olympia Vario Duplex 4000 0,3mm316,99€A4Ansehen*
Fellowes Foto-Rollenschneidemaschine Neutrino0,5mm513,49€A4Ansehen*
Fiskars Personal SureCut0,5mm533€A4Ansehen*
Dahle 5080,6mm634,29€A3Ansehen*
Kaiser Fototechnik hobby cut 40,6mm643,94€A3Ansehen*
Dahle 5070,8mm825,45€A4Ansehen*
Dahle 5522mm2099,34€A3Ansehen*
Dahle 5502mm2096,58€A4Ansehen*
Dahle 5542mm20100€A2Ansehen*
Rollenschneidemaschine - Schnitthöhe vs. Preis

Cutting types

Due to the slitting technology of the trimmer, different slitting styles besides a straight cut are also possible, if the manufacturer of the slitter offers knives for e.g. wave cut, zigzag, deckle cut or perforation. In addition, there are roll trimmer with folding functions as we have also shown in our product comparison.

Automatic pressing

A practical feature that many rotary trimmer offer is automatic pressing. Here, the cutter head presses on the pressure rail of the cutter and fixes the paper accordingly. This makes handling easier and, in our opinion, increases precision.

Normally, the table models are common in rotary cutting machines. However, for longer cutting lengths (>1m), there are standing models. The cutting heights are 0.5 to 1mm for the simpler models. With more professional models, it can even go into the cm range. So, the common models are suitable for paper, cardboard or thin cardboard, photo paper, thin plastics and also metal foils.

Safety Rotary Trimmer

Due to its design, the slitter does not have a guillotine functionality. Due to the use of sheathing, the blade is almost completely shielded, which is why a high level of safety is achieved. The knife is typically only in the direct area where cutting is done, outside the sheath. However, since the distance of the knife from the table is very small, there is a small risk of injury here. However, you have to be a little careful when changing the knife. In terms of safety, the rotary cutter is ideal for home use.

In contrast, the effort required for a lever cutter is much higher to achieve acceptable safety.

Replacement parts, accessories and maintenance

Manufacturers of rotary trimmers offer spare parts for reorder. In particular, this applies to the circular knives. Replacement of the circular blade is rarely necessary for self-regrinding winders that are used only occasionally. The replacement is more or less complex depending on the model. If the trimmer supports special cutting shapes, they often have to be purchased separately. However, they are sometimes included in the scope of delivery. In our product comparison, we have listed these hidden costs separately.

What are the advantages of rotary cutters?

In summary, the rotary trimmer offers the following advantages:

  • Different cutting shapes (waves, zigzag, perforation, …) possible
  • Self-sharpening of the circular blade increases durability and cutting quality and is optimal when cutting only occasionally
  • High safety due to the insulated knife
  • Comparably inexpensive compared to lever cutting machines for home and hobby users
  • Reliably precise and that even with inexpensive models

What are the disadvantages of the rotary trimmer?

In summary, rotary trimmers may have the following disadvantages:

  • Relatively complex design of the rotating blade compared to the lever cutter -> High precision can be reflected in the price accordingly
  • Due to the design, the cutting edge can be partially hidden and small pieces of paper are sometimes difficult to position
  • In some models, the blade of the winder is guided on the table or paper. In this case, the roller blades tend to be misaligned. This can result in unwanted wave cuts.
  • Depending on the quality of the winder, the disadvantages may be more or less, or not at all apparent. Of course, the basic rule that quality has its price often applies here.

Rotary Cutters Conclusion

For home and hobby (photos or handicrafts) roll cutting machines with a cutting length of about 320mm are sufficient. With a cutting depth of 0.5 to 1mm, paper, photo paper and thin cardboard can be cut with ease.

Nevertheless, attention should be paid to the quality of the paper cutter to have lasting fun with the winder.

However, a high-quality winder is also suitable for professional demands without hesitation.

Our comparison of the rotary trimmers with the lever trimmer pits these two types against each other in detail. In addition, our product comparison presents the top products.

Preise inkl. MwSt., zzgl. Versandkosten / Letzte Aktualisierung am 2023-01-29 at 06:52 / Affiliate Links / Bilder von der Amazon Product Advertising API

This post is also available in: German

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