Christina Lu

Christina Lu

Overseas Sales Director and Co-Founder of KASU Laser, 12+ Years Textile and Fabric Laser Cutting Machine Expert.

Contents

What Is the Best Industrial Fabric Cutting Machine?

Ever wondered what the best industrial fabric cutting machine is? Which one is best for you? Well, you’re not the only one.

Choosing the best industrial fabric cutting machine for your workshop will depend on your specific needs. You must take following factors into consideration to make the right choice, such as factory business model, cutting fabric types, daily production, purchasing budget, factory space, operator skill requirement, if need dies or nesting software, cut pattern quality, material wastage, consumables and electricity consumption of each machine, etc. 

For home use, please refer to this article on the best fabric cutter. This article won’t discuss handheld fabric cutting machines but enterprise-based industrial fabric cutters.

While there are several industrial fabric cutting machines in existence, we will only be focusing on those that stand out. As we know, the most popular machines include:

  • Multi-Layer fabric cutting machine
  • Digital cutting machine
  • Co2 laser cutter
  • Industrial die cutting machine 

This detailed article will discuss the following factors to help you understand the main advantages and disadvantages of all the cutters. So it’s worth checking out.

So, before further discussion, firstly, let’s understand the basic knowledge of those four industrial fabric cutting machines. 

What Is Multi-Layer Fabric Cutting Machine?

The multi-layer fabric cutting method is exactly how it sounds. Before being feed into the cutter, fabrics are spread on the table by hand or by auto fabric spreader layer by layer. 

Then with the assistance of the nesting software system, this computerized cutting machine cuts fabric layers as per the command given in the computer system.  

What Is Multi-Layer Fabric Cutting Machine - KASU Laser

What Is Digital Cutting Machine?

The digital cutting machine uses a knife blade that follows a computer-programmed path to creating the cut patterns. 

A digital cutting machine generally consists of a flat working area (fixed table or conveyor belt ) and a set of cutting head above the working table. 

The cutter can move in four directions along the programmed cutting path to cut out the shape. 

What Is Single-Layer Digital Cutting Machine - KASU Laser

What Is Co2 Laser Cutter?

A CO2 laser cutter uses gas to power up and generates light when electricity runs through a gas-filled tube.

Since CO2 laser beams are usually easily absorbed by fabrics, that would lead to a part of the fabric heating up and getting vaporized.

The CO2 laser cutter can be used on different fabric types, including jeans, fleece, lace, silk, cotton, Alcantara, softshell, polyester, linen, and felt.

We have a very detailed introduction of the Co2 laser cutting machine cutting textiles and fabrics in this article. You can understand more.

KASU LASER Client Factory 5

What Is Industrial Die Cutting Machine?

Die-cutting refers to the process of using a machine to produce cut-out shapes in massive quantities. For this machine, you would need a die. 

A forged die or steel strip forms the metal strip used to make the die, and then it is placed on the block of fabric layers. With pressure from the ram head, the sharp end will then cut the fabric. 

With a die cutter, you can create the same shapes, all with the almost exact dimensions over and over again. 

This is very common with cutting fabrics, as it makes the cut-out shapes look as consistent and professional as possible.

What Is Industrial Die Cutting Machine - KASU Laser

Factory Business Model

Firstly you must consider your factory business model. Simply saying is whether you are more focused on customization or bulk orders. 

If your business is more focused on customization orders, you will need a more flexible cutter to make fast delivery at a low cost. And if more focused on bulk orders, you will need to consider massive production cutters. 

Following, we will discuss more.

Production and Cut Pattern Sizes of Plain Fabric

When using industrial fabric cutting machines, you want your device to produce as much plain fabric per day as possible. The higher the production, the higher the efficiency. 

However, the output of this depends on the type of industrial fabric cutting machine. 

In this aspect, the multi-layer fabric cutting machine and the die cutting machine have a higher production capacity due to the multi-layer cutting method. 

multi layer fabrics - What is best fabric cutting machine KASU Laser

And the multi-layer fabric cutting machine is more suitable for massive orders of big shape patterns like soft furniture and garment, while the die cutting machine can better deal with bulk orders of small shape patterns like shoe uppers, hats, and gloves. 

Multi layer garment fabric cutting machine- big patterns - What is best fabric cutting machine KASU Laser
Big Garment Patterns
multi layer fabric die cutting machine- small patterns - What is best fabric cutting machine KASU Laser
Small Shoe Patterns

Now that we have discussed the multi-layer knife cutting machines and die-cutting machines.

Let’s look at CO2 laser cutters and digital cutting machines. These two machines are generally suitable for single-layer fabric cutting only.

But sometimes, with the assistance of different knife blade designs and plastic film, the digital cutting machine can cut like 5-10 layers of permeable fabrics. 

And for different types of pattern layouts and sizes, CO2 laser machines can be equipped with single or two or four laser cutting heads.

The multi-head model will make the speed several times faster. And the production of two sets of CO2 laser cutters with four heads can equal one set of the industrial die cutting machine.

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When making the single-layer fabric cutting comparison, the digital knife cutting machine is more used in cutting thicker materials, such as soft glass, rubber mats, floor mats, rugs and carpets, due to its higher cutting speed than the Co2 laser cutting machine.

And materials that tend to have the yellow edge after the hot cutting of laser are also more adaptable for the knife cutting machine.

PVC Floor Mat Cut By Single Layer Oscillating Knife Cutting Machine-KASU Laser
PVC Floor Mat
Fluffy Rugs and Carpets Cut By Single Layer Oscillating Knife Cutting Machine-KASU Laser
Fluffy Rugs
Non Slip Floor Mat Cut By Single Layer Oscillating Knife Cutting Machine-KASU Laser
Non Slip Floor Mat

Because of the laser focal length problem, we take the most used 50.8MM focus lens and 100W laser tube, for example.

We recommend that customers mainly cut the thickness of the fabric within 1 cm. If you need to cut more than 1 cm, configure a higher focal length lens and a bigger power laser tube.

For general fabrics, the thicker the material is, the slower is the laser cutting speed.

The vibration knife does not have such a problem. There is only the problem of blade wear and service life. 

Choosing the suitable knife blades is one of the critical factors affecting the cutting speed and product quality.

Types of Cutting Heads and knife blades of Knife Cutting Machine - KASU Laser

Cutting Fabric Types

Co2 laser cutter’s laser beam can be considered as a hot knife for fabric.

We have discussed several main types of fabric and textiles that can be cut perfectly using the Co2 laser cutter while highlighting materials that are likely to develop yellow edges when operated on in this article, Main Types Of Fabric And Textiles Cut By Co2 Laser.

KASU KX Series CCD Cutting Sample Woven Label
Woven Label
KASU LASER CUTTING SAMPLES PLUSH TOY COMPOSITE
Composite Plush
KASU LASER CUSTOM APPAREL CUTTING SAMPLES DECOROTIVE NON WOVEN ENGRAVING
Non-Woven Fabric

The other three cutters are all using cold knife blades to cut off the fabrics.

Compared with the hot cutter, a cold knife won’t generate any smoke or result in yellow edges and can deal with most fabrics.

But for some polyester or satin, or silk materials, cold knife cutters tend to leave fraying edges.  

multi layer fabric edge cut by cold knife cutter-what is best industrial fabric cutting machine KASU Laser
Composite Sponge
multi layer cutting edge cut by cold knife die cutter-what is best industrial fabric cutting machine KASU Laser
Composite EVA
Fraying edge fabric cut by cold knife cutter-what is best industrial fabric cutting machine KASU Laser
Satin Fabric

Purchasing Budget 

All four different cutters have different models, and different brands and prices differ a lot.

But generally speaking, purchasing prices are listed from lowest to highest: industrial die cutter < Co2 laser cutter < single-layer digital fabric cutter < multi-layer fabric cutter.

You can refer to this article to get a better understanding of the Co2 laser cutter investment.

Factory Space Needed 

When calculating needed factory space for the cutters, Co2 laser cutter, single-layer digital cutter, and multi-layer fabric cutter’s sizes plus the left and right each outward expansion of 1 meter, the front pattern pick-up table 2 meters and the rack fabric feeding area 1 meter. 

KASU LASER OEM SERVICE SIZE CHANGE
KASU LASER Client Factory 6

But for the die cutter, you must consider the die storage space. Die storage is disappointingly terrible.

For every fabric cutting process, you would have to create a new die. Considering that it takes time to make a die, it is also not easy to store the dies as it should be, which complicates the process.

Furthermore, if you cannot get repeated orders, this will lead to wastage and expenses on this consumable.

Die Storage -Factory space needed - What is best industrial farbic laser cutter-KASU Laser

Operator Skill Requirement

The die cutting machine has the highest operational requirement among the four cutters since this is majorly a manual process. 

These are the people that will control most of the process to ensure accuracy.

Operators must understand how to set the die cutting machine to make each die which is crucial to the fabric cutting process. 

The pressure has to be exact for the cutting blade, die, and ram surface. When the pressure is high, this could damage the die blade, and if it’s too low, then your fabric cutting may turn out awful.

Control the die cutting process to ensure accuracy - KASU Laser

And operators need to be very careful as they need to calculate and make notes about how many patterns for different dies the product needs from time to time. 

And for different products, the quantities and designs generally are different. For example, the die-cutting machine involves frequent changing of dies which is highly inconvenient.

Calculate and make notes about how many patterns for different dies the product needs - KASU Laser

At the same time, other digital cutters’ control systems have strong functions to automate the whole cutting process and reduce operators’ requirements.

So for the die cutter, you need to pay a much higher salary to hire a skilled operator, while for the other digital cutters, you can hire a 50+-year-old operator to take care of the super simple pattern pick-up job. 

KASU Client Factory

Nesting Software 

Of the four cutting machines we’re discussing, three need nesting software, and the die cutter is the only one that doesn’t need this. 

So what exactly is nesting software? Nesting software was developed to arrange the necessary quantity of fabric to be produced while working efficiently and automatically. 

Thanks to the mathematical processing power of computers, this uses geometry from CAD (computer-aided manufacturing) files to output NC code to control various fabric cutting machines. This reduces cost and optimizes material usage. 

Over the years, nesting software has undergone a series of innovations. Today, it can link to a work order database and link to a central material inventory. In addition, the nesting software has specific corner-radius techniques that help CO2 lasers to cut sharp corners.

Optimized Single Pattern Layout by Nesting Software - fabric digital cutter - KASU Laser
Single Pattern Layout
Combined Pattern Layout by Nesting Software - fabric digital cutter - KASU Laser
Combined Pattern Layout

Die Needed Or Not

While the die cutter is the only one that doesn’t need the nesting software, it is also the only one that requires the die. 

As mentioned earlier, it takes a while to make the die despite the die-cutting process itself being a little faster.

If the fabric involves frequent changing of styles, it would be inconvenient as it would take both money and time to make a new die.

You’re also required to create a new die for each process. This reduces the efficiency of the entire process and increases production costs.

Cut Pattern Quality (Affect Product Quality)

One factor you should know is the cut pattern quality of each fabric cutting machine.

This is directly proportional to the product quality, and you wouldn’t want to rely on a device that delivers subpar fabrics. 

Instead, we want a machine with perfectly edged cuts, clean with no after-stains, and pattern quality that is impressive to look at.

While all these machines have their good sides, they are primarily different in fabric production quality.

CO2 laser cutting machines are the clear winners in this category for most types of fabrics. Their level of efficiency means that the fabric production quality is usually top-notch. 

Amongst all the cutting methods, the laser has the highest cutting accuracy.

In addition, since it is highly automated, there is little to no room for human errors, making the fabric cutting process much more manageable. 

Non Woven Four Leaf Clover Cut by KASU Co2 Laser Cutter with high precision
Non Woven
KASU LASER CUSTOM APPAREL CUTTING SAMPLES ORGANZA LADY DRESS
Organza
KASU LASER SATIN SPORTSWEAR CUTTING SAMPLES 6
Satin Fabric

Comparing knife cutting machines with laser systems will show a clear difference.

The laser beam melts the cut completely for the laser cutting machine while the knife fabric cutter works by pulling the knife through the threads. 

As you can imagine, the results are usually a little bit messy since threads will be hanging from the cut material.

And round knife cutting system is known for cutting through materials with excessive cuts due to the round shape of the blade, which results in badly cut small-sized patterns. 

Cotton Garment Cloth Cut Samples by Multi Layer Fabric Cutting Machine - KASU LASER
Cotton
Polyester Garment Pattern Cut Samples by Multi Layer Fabric Cutting Machine - KASU LASER
Polyester
Short Hair Plush Cut Samples by Multi Layer Fabric Cutting Machine - KASU LASER
Plush

And the die-cutting machine also scores low in this aspect. This is mainly because you would have to make the die in a specific pattern before it takes shape on the fabric.

To cut good quality patterns, the die mode itself has to be incredibly accurate. 

High precision and expensive transparent iron die mode of industrial die cutter - KASU Laser

Another major disadvantage with the die cutting machine’s product quality is that the pattern sizes are usually different.

The device is not accurate enough to keep the same pattern size on the top and bottom layers. This is not a good look for the final product. 

The more layers, the size difference is more prominent. So sometimes, to guarantee good pattern quality, you will need to sacrifice the working efficiency and reduce the fabric layers.  

Upper and bottom layer pattern size difference by industrial die cutter - KASU Laser

Material Wastage

Material wastage is a crucial factor in fabric cutting processes. Unfortunately, many fabric cutting machines have inbuilt settings that will not maximize the materials to the last millimeter. 

While this may seem insignificant at first, with time, you start to realize that a lot of these materials are wasted with each cut.

Which machines save you on materials, and which ones lead to more material wastage?

4-5mm pattern distance for multi layer fabric cutting machine -material wastage - KASU Laser
4-5mm Pattern Distance
3-5mm pattern distance for multi layer fabric cutting machine -material wastage - KASU Laser
3-5mm Pattern Distance

Multi-layer fabric cutter and die cutting machines require some millimeters of pattern distance when cutting due to the pattern size differences between the top and bottom layers. 

While setting the die on the fabric layers, you would have to leave a gap between 3-5 millimeters from one pattern position to the next.

For the multi-layer fabric cutter, 2-5 millimeters are recommended for different fabrics and pattern designs.

The pattern distance is a compulsory allowance at the edges, meant to promote accuracy during fabric cutting.

If the space is less than 3mm, there may be cutting problems resulting in incomplete patterns.

On the other hand, if the distance is bigger than 4mm, it will cause more considerable material wastage.

Big pattern distance - Material wastage by multi layer industrial die cutting machine - KASU Laser
Big Pattern Distance
Material wastage by multi layer industrial die cutting machine - KASU Laser
Material Wastage

However, CO2 lasers only need 0-1mm pattern distance.

This is because CO2 lasers work by cutting fabric using a ray of light, and the spot size of the light is no more than 0.2mm.

KASU LASER K SERIES LASER CUTTING MACHINE CUTTING FUNCTION FOUR HEADS

In fabric cutting, every inch of the material is relevant to the process.

Therefore, it reduces the incidence of material wastage as every millimeter is accounted for. 

The single-layer digital cutter’s pattern gaps are slightly bigger than the Co2 laser cutter, like 1-2mm.

Material saved up to10% by smaller pattern distance - what is best industrial fabric cutting machine - KASU Laser

Consumables and Electricity Consumption

Consumables and electricity consumption constitute a significant aspect of picking the best industrial fabric cutting machine. 

Since you would be running this machine for several hours daily, you wouldn’t want to pick one that puts a significant dent in your pockets as you pay the power bill. 

✮ Vibrating knife cutting machine

The vibrating knife cutting machine has the disadvantage of having huge consumables that need regular replacement, like the knife blades. 

Depending on your material and using frequency, you will need to replace the dull blades every 3-5 days, sometimes even shorter.

This means that there is a lot of recurring costs when using this machine for fabric cutting. 

And operator needs to be very careful about the blade height over the conveyor belt. This is because the knife blades touch the belt directly.

If not deep enough, the blade won’t cut off the fabric properly. On the other hand, if too deep, the belt will need to be replaced in a very short time. 

Knife Blade In the Round Knife Single Layer Fabric Cutting Machine Cutting Head - Consumables - KASU Laser

This situation is also similar to its electricity consumption level, which is exceptionally high.

Mainly because of the exhausting fan, the knife cutting machine’s electricity consumption is over 10KW per hour, which adds a lot to your power bill. 

✮ Multi-layer knife cutting machine

Similar to the vibrating knife cutting machine, the multi-layer knife cutting machine is also big on consumables.

Since the functions on this machine are automatic and computer-controlled, some of its components can’t be used multiple times, such as the cutting blades, sharpening tools, and conveyor belts.

And the covering plastic film, mark paper and perforated paper need to be replaced together with the cut patterns.

So you would have to spend a decent amount on consumables to keep the multi-layer cutting machine functioning optimally. 

Knife Blades - Consumables of Multi Layer Fabric Cutting Machine - KASU Laser
Knife Blades
Plastic Cover Film
Paper - Consumables of Multi Layer Fabric Cutting Machine - KASU Laser
Mark Paper

This is a similar situation with the electricity consumption level. The multi-layer knife cutting machine is heavy on the power consumption of over 15KW per hour.

This will increase your power bill significantly as it needs a lot of it to get through each fabric cutting process.

✮ Fabric die cutter

Unfortunately, the fabric die cutter does not fare any better with consumables. As we discussed before, the fabric die cutter needs dies to work.

For different designs, you will make different dies. This is a very time-consuming and money-consuming technique that also adds to your overall budget. 

On the plus side, the electricity consumption level is not as bad as the knife cutting machines.

It stands at a medium rating. Depending on the pressure, the power ranges from 3-10KW per hour.

This means that while the power bill won’t be as high as the knife cutting machines, it’s higher than the power consumption level experienced with CO2 laser cutting machines. 

✮ CO2 laser cutting machine

When it comes to consumables and electricity consumption, the CO2 laser cutting machine is a winner in this category.

It has a small number of consumables that need to be replaced regularly.

Laser tube is one of the consumables for CO2 laser cutting machines. But the Made-In-China CO2 glass tube’s ROI is super high.

One 100w CO2 laser tube can last for over two years based on eight working hours per day. And you only need to pay about 300 US Dollars to replace one.

And focusing lens in the laser cutting head is another so-called consumable. It is made of glasses and needs to be cleaned every day.

If the operator cleans it regularly and does not drop it and break it, it can be used for years too. 

KASU LASER DETAIL MATTERS Density added design of laser tube support structure
Co2 Laser Tube
KASU LASER QUALITY SPARE PARTS AMERICAN 26 FOCUS LENS
Focusing Lens

Its electricity consumption is also pretty low.

The whole machine’s electricity consumption is about 2-3KW per hour, which means that you don’t have to spend so much on your power bill when using this machine. 

Overall, it’s easy to pick which one fares well in the consumables and electricity consumption department.

If you want to get the best out of your work output without churning a lot of money on keeping your machines powered on, then the best choice would be the CO2 laser cutting machines.

These work fast, are efficient, and reduce operating costs significantly.

Can Do Position Cutting?

Let’s start with a bit of a breakdown of what position cutting is.

If you have something like digitally printed fabric, embroidered or lace fabric, woven label, heat transfer film, and vinyl, and you need to cut along the specific outline of the graphic, we call it position cutting. 

CO2 laser cutter, oscillating knife cutter, and die cutters all have position cutting functions, while multi-layer fabric cutting machines don’t. 

Though the die cutter can work with position cutting, you need an operator to cut every layer one by one. So, as you can imagine, daily production is small with the die cutting machines. 

And this process is incredibly stressful. It takes a high degree of precision from the operator to be able to achieve this effect. 

Position Cutting Printed Leather by Industrial Die Cutting Machine - KASU Laser

On the plus side, for some products, you can accomplish higher productivity with multi-layers together.

However, you would have to hire extra workers to lay the fabric layer by layer first before cutting.

And the workers need to be very careful about the alignment of the fabrics by using many pins to fix the multi-layer material together to prevent graphic misalignment. 

And also, this would be a huge disadvantage as you would need a bigger pattern space to prevent an enormous position error, which leads to more material consumables and wastage. 

Manually Lay the printed fabric before position cutting by die cutter - KASU Laser

CO2 laser cutters and single-layer oscillating knife cutters can be equipped with a Small CCD Camera, Top Canon Camera, or BenQ Projector to realize the position cutting. 

This makes use of the position equipment to view the products clearly, leading to more accuracy.

The cutter can then use registration marks or graphic features to cut the fabric to size or cut along the edge with fine details. 

CO2 laser cutters and single-layer oscillating knife cutters’ working principles are very similar in this position cutting aspect.

But the knife cutter cannot handle embroidered or lace fabric and woven labels.

KASU LASER KD SERIES TOP CANON 1500D CAMERA 2
Canon Camera
KASU LASER KX Series CCD Cutting CCD Camera 1
CCD Camera
KASU LASER KP SERIES LASER CUTTING MACHINE BENQ PROJECTOR
BenQ Projector

Simply speaking, when both cutters can cut your products, choose the Co2 laser rather than the oscillating knife cutter due to its much lower machine cost and maintenance expenses, as well as the higher cutting speed.

You can refer to this article to understand more, as we have a detailed discussion regarding the Co2 laser cutter’s application in position cutting.

Conclusion

It would be a shame to invest so much time and resources on an automatic fabric cutting machine that is not specific to fit your working process. 

I hope this article is worth your time and can answer all your questions and more. 

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4 Comments

  1. Hi ! We are 30 years old well established company in Pakistan with over 30 employees and 4 offices in Pakistan. We are major players in Textile, Graphics & Signage, Packaging and Cutting Solutions. We are Zund Distributor for Pakistan and and have multiple installations. We are well familiar with all types of cutting technologies. At this moment we are Laser Cutting and Multi Layer Industrial Textile cutters. I think you have all which is missing in our portfolio. If you are interested in partnership with us then please contact me immediately to start collaboration.
    Best regards,
    Imran Abdullah-CEO

    1. Hi, Imran, very glad to hear back from you. We are looking for local partners and my colleague will send you more details for your better understanding. Have a nice day.
      Best regards,
      Christina

  2. It really helped me when you said that by using a die cutter, you can repeatedly produce the same shapes with nearly identical dimensions. I’m glad that I found your article as this is something that my dad needs for his company so I’ll make sure that he reads this article. Thanks for the information about the Best Industrial Fabric Cutting Machine.

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