Thanks for all the info guys. Has any one had any experience with the Aerocut verse Duplo. I'm guessing it probably depends which version of each. My overall gut feeling is a lot comes down to workload. At what point is it worth investing in either to take work off your guillotine. How much work do you need to have back up on the guillotine?
We have an aerocut and our sister shop has a duplo. We really wish we had the duplo.
The biggest reason
is that our aerocut that we have doesn't have the ability to slit sheets without taking out a channel. So you can't take an 11x17 sheet and cut it to 5.5x8.5. The channel blades are fixed at .275in apart. Maybe they've fixed this with new versions?
Overall: The aerocut is buggy, not consistent and they made some poor design choices that make it require a lot of training and constant reminders not to do certain things or it'll damage the machine (example below). It double-feeds often and skews constantly, so about 10% of any job doesn't feed properly and isn't usable. It requires constant fiddling for every cut because it doesn't do a consistent cut down the sheet, the cuts drift. It does have settings that let you adjust for this but you have to run multiple sheets for every job to get it dialed in. The rollers don't hold down the sheets solidly as they come through the machine so on business cards, the last row of business cards on every sheet curves since the sheet moves as it cuts. I could go on and on about the annoyances.
It works fairly well for 4x6 and 5x7 full bleed cards and for folded cards it's great BUT it's pretty rare to be able to load it and walk away.
It's also expensive to fix/replace worn out parts. I was quoted close to $10k on the 4 sets of slitter blades and $4k on the guillotine blade.
Stupid design example:
The machine came with a 6 magnetic paper guides. One of the guides is designed only for the exit side so it's slightly shorter and longer than the rest. If it gets moved to the entrance side it can slide under the entrance when the tray is lifting and smash up the machine. This could have been solved by making the guide the same height as the rest of the guides. I had two repair techs make this mistake and smash the machine up not noticing the difference in size before I finally moved it to a different machine in the shop.
Stupid design example #2:
Because the dual slitter blades are fixed at .275in apart, it is possible for a strip of paper to get caught and wound up in the gap between the slitter blades (if the machine double-feeds). This is a 3-hour fix because the only way to get it out is to take the entire machine apart to get the slitter housing out and then use tweezers to carefully pick the paper out without damaging the slitter blades. It's nearly impossible to take the slitter housing apart, I tried once and gave up after 2-hours. You can't just replace a single slitter blade, the entire housing has to be replaced.