Contour cutting machines: vertical or horizontal?

Whether you are new in the polyurethane cutting industry or you cannot make up your mind between a vertical and a horizontal contour cutting machine to add to your production line, this article has been thought for you.

Contour cutting machines

As producers of foam contour cutting machines, we are often asked what the main differences between a vertical and a horizontal cutter are. And also: which machine is more productive? Which one can perform a wider range of cuts? Which one is more space-saving? However, the answers to all these questions are not always immediate, as many factors come into play.

But, don’t panic!

Let’s go through the differences and similarities between these two groups of contour cutting machines, and hopefully, by the end of this article, you will get a clearer picture of their strength points as well as a better understanding of your specific needs.

Firstly, for non-experts:

  • a vertical contour cutter is a CNC machine whose blade is oriented vertically to simultaneously cut various layers of material crosswise;
  • a horizontal contour cutter, on the other hand, uses a blade that enters the foam block horizontally to perform a wide range of cuts – and even crosscuts!

Is it easier to integrate vertical or horizontal contour cutting machines into an already existing production line?

Broadly speaking, our vertical contour cutters are easier to integrate into production lines, as they have an intrinsic advantage: the automatic loading-unloading mode is implicit in their mechanism. Indeed, the type of cutting table they are equipped with consists of two consecutive conveyor belts. They enable the material to move towards the blade, to be processed. Being these conveyor belts motorized, they also serve as a loading-unloading system.

Of course, this does not mean that horizontal contour cutting machines cannot make your production flow smooth. On the contrary, they can well do so! In their case, a series of options to add to their configurations will adapt their processes to your needs. For example, you can choose to integrate motorized belt conveyors on the working area – to facilitate the input and output of the block – or you might be interested in an automatic offload system in output – with a view to freeing up space for the next foam block to be processed.

Which group of machines can cut a wider diversity of shapes?

Short answer: it depends. Long answer: it depends.

Vertical contour cutters can process a wide range of patterns. Whatever contour your pattern has seen from above – provided that it is continuous – the vertical cutter can perform it, thanks to a combined motion of the band conveyors and the blade. However, there’s one thing that vertical machines cannot do, that is crosscuts (also known as counter cuttings or countercuts). If you want to cut on two different sides of the foam block, what you need is a horizontal cutter. Horizontal contour cutting machines, indeed, enable you to carry out a double cutting process – on one side of the block first, and then on the other. In this way, you will obtain a 3D result. How? Thanks to a rotating cutting table – which cannot be integrated on vertical machines, due to their configuration. It must be said that, if properly used, horizontal cutters can produce almost everything that vertical machines do… and more!

And what about dimensions?

In the case of vertical contour cutters, the blade has a maximum cutting height of 1300 mm. On the other hand, horizontal CNC cutters cut up to 2200 mm in width. Does it mean that vertical machines are less productive? Not actually, as these two families of cutting machines are conceived to suit different applications, and, therefore, it is not advisable to compare them in terms of productivity.

At this stage, it is important to remark that, at RAM, we usually talk about standard dimensions, as customization is our competitive advantage. Indeed, after a careful analysis of your production needs, we aim at tailoring our machines to your expectations.

One last aspect to take into account concerns the machine layout: vertical machines are necessarily longer (i.e. at least twice the length of the material processed),  therefore they take up more space compared to horizontal ones, which are rather compact.

What applications are they suited to?

Horizontal contour cutting machines are used mainly to process upholstery, sofa sets and seats, mattresses and pillows, orthopedic applications, as well as sound-absorbing panels. In addition to some of the previous applications, vertical contour cutters are employed to produce packaging, shipbuilding kits, as well as for the recovery of recyclable waste.

What else?

Up to this point, different aspects concerning these two groups of contour cutters have been described. However, this is not enough to guide you to a final choice from our range of machines. If you are looking for the machine that would best suit your production line and needs,

why don’t you fill out this 1-minute questionnaire?

By clicking on the link above, indeed, in just a few seconds you will be able to provide us with the main information as for your production requirements: the final product you are planning to manufacture, the density and hardness of the foam you want to use, the size of your raw material, as well as your productivity expectations. After receiving your data, we will analyze your scenario in the shortest possible time, and get back with a commercial offer tailored to you. Give it a try!



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