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Question:- How long should a blade last?
Answer:- How long is a piece of string?
PLOTTER BLADE LIFE IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PREDICT
Only a fool would try - if somebody does - please ask them for next week’s lottery numbers.
THE LIFE OF A BLADE IS AFFECTED BY NUMEROUS FACTORS
Very few of these factors are in the control of the manufacturer - almost all are in the control of the user.
Whilst it is reasonable to assume that high quality blades should last longer than the inferior junk it is worth bearing in mind that users have far more control over the life (or death) of a blade than the manufacturer.
A more appropriate question would be - WHEN SHOULD A BLADE BE CHANGED?
YOU COULD CHANGE IT WHEN YOU CANNOT MAKE IT CUT
But that would rarely occur because most modern plotters have sufficient force to cut with a rusty nail - albeit badly - and long before the blade would fail to cut it would be cutting horribly.
SO WHEN SHOULD IT BE CHANGED?
When the QUALITY of the cut is no longer acceptable.
AND WHEN WILL THAT BE???
When YOU decide.
MORE ABOUT BLADE LIFE
The life of a blade should NOT be judged by how long it has been in a machine.
If the machine is not used the blade will last forever!!!
Blade life should NOT be judged by the number of rolls of vinyl it has cut.
Depending on text size it can do as much cutting on a metre of vinyl as on a full roll.
Blade life SHOULD be judged by:-
The length of time it was cutting.
The speed at which it was cutting.
The material/s it was cutting.
How correctly - or incorrectly - the machine was set.
MORE BORING FACTS
Most of the blades used in the UK are returned to us for exchange or re-sharpening.
We examine them to monitor their performance.
Far too many blades are NOT worn out - they are damaged by accident or carelessness.
Great for us - bad for you. See: - Blade Care
Many of the undamaged blades we see could have continued to cut perfectly well if only the user had set the pressure/force correctly.
We often need to teach users how to do this because they don’t know how.
And occasionally we find users who DO NOT KNOW that the pressure or the speed CAN be changed!
“Er, the man set it up for me”…..…..…..……??? years ago!
AND JUST TO AMUSE YOU
We once saw a blade being advertised as “a five mile blade”
That advert was definitely NOT ours but it sounded impressive so we analysed it.
FACTS (Simple Mathematics)
One Mile = 1600 Metres
Five Miles = 8000 Metres [8,000,000 mm]
One Hour = 3600 Seconds
Many modern plotters can cut at 1,000 mm per second [mm/sec] or more.
So 8,000,000 mm divided by (1000mm x 3600 seconds) would give 2.2 Hours of use
More realistically, plotters are commonly run at about 500 mm/sec which would give you 4.4 Hours of use.
So, to cut five miles of vinyl a modern plotter would take:-
2.2 hours at high speed
4.4 hours at average speed
8-10 hours at a slow speed.
WAS THAT ADVERT REALLY SO IMPRESSIVE?
Did anybody REALLY think it meant eight thousand metres of vinyl as used in “normal” production.
Although open to misinterpretation that advert (not ours) was not totally incorrect.
It is probable that any blade could cut five miles or more in linear distance.
In most modern plotters a blade travels a linear mile or more every cutting hour and it can do five miles of cutting on just a few metres of vinyl.
Although blade life is impossible to predict you will be pleased to know that
most of the better quality plotter blades are likely to last months or years.
If plotters are set and used correctly - far too many are not!
How blades are used and what they cut are major factors. See: - Blade Care