Shape-Cutting for P.O.P.

There are three ways to make P.O.P. signage:

  • Do it yourself.
  • Hire someone else to do it.
  • Buy it off the shelf.

There are occasions where each of those is appropriate. If P.O.P. signage is not something that a shop normally does, it might not have the appropriate equipment to finish all parts of the job. However, some parts easily can often be done in-house, such as cutting digital prints to precise shapes. When deciding on how best to cut a digital print to shape you need to consider the size of the image, the complexity of the shape, the quantity of prints, and whether or not the print will be mounted (or printed directly) to a rigid substrate. Following are some options to consider.

  • Hand-Cut—If you only do limited shape-cut jobs and only have a few to do, this is the true “do-it-yourself” solution. Take the time to cut a template from clear Plexiglas. Templates provide a safe method for producing a consistent finish and can be reused.
  • Print-And-Cut—When the P.O.P. project only involves adhesive-backed decals, like floor graphics or shelf stickers, a print-and-cut machine, like those sold by Roland and Mimaki, will offer an ideal solution.
  • Digital Die Cut—A lot of shops doing P.O.P. work are using digital X/Y flatbed cutters—such as those sold by Summa, Zünd and Océ—for cutting shapes from rigid substrates. These cutters are not cheap but can be very profitable — and they are a proven solution when teamed with a flatbed printer.
  • CNC Router Cut—If the substrate needed for your P.O.P. project is too thick or tough, a full-fledged CNC routing table with XY and cutting Z axis—like those sold by MultiCam, Thermwood, Gerber and ShopBot—is a perfect solution. Alternatively, you may choose to hand-rout the job in your shop. Hand-routing also requires making a template out of MDF or similar dense, inexpensive material.
  • Traditional Die-Cut—If a very large quantity of identical shapes are to be cut, perhaps the job needs to be sent to a professional die-cutting service. Die-cutters have special requirements. Images must be cut into rectangular shapes that are completely consistent. Accuracy is extremely important, as the die-cutting equipment cuts automatically and has no discretion. Mistakes might not be noticed until the entire job is completed.