Hydraulic Cutter advice- Baum/Polar or Challenge?

Brett S

Well-known member
We are currently looking at a small hydraulic cutter for our print shop, and wanted some opinions. First our shop equipment and cutting needs. We run both small offset presses (AB Dick QP25 and 9985) and digital eqipment (Xerox Versant 180 and Ricoh 8100). The majority of our sheets are 8.5x11, 12x18 and 13x19. We do have to cut some folio sheets so the 25"+ cutter is a good fit. Any cutter we choose will be a great replacement and upgrade for our current MBM electric cutter.
We cut everything from 20# bond to 16-20 pt cover. Business cards, postcards, trilfold brochures, saddle-sttich booklets (face trim) etc. Our shop has one shift, and the cutter will not run more than 4-5 hours any day and most days will run 2-3 hours.
The hope is to find a nice hydraulic cutter that runs on single phase electric, but willing to install three phase if the best piece of equipment requires that setup.

Our focus has been on the Polar 66 (looking at both the 66 Eco and 66 Plus), the Baumcut 26.4 and the Challenge titan 265TC. We are central to Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo so all equipment and service would come from outside the area.

Please let me know your thoughts and if there are any cutter suggestions beyond the above list. Thanks in advance.
 
My experience is limited to one Challenge machine, but I would not buy another piece of their equipment based on service attitude from them alone. Perfecta and Polar have good reputations. I have a local hydraulic repair company service my machine since the dealer tech is an expensive plane ride away.
 
Hello Brett,

I have worked with Bruce, the owner at Colter and Peterson and he was good to us. It is one of the biggest cutters the Saber X15 Plus, it is a monster. It was a bit bumpy initially but they lived up to their word. They also sell reconditioned, smaller ones, here is a link to their reconditioned machines. They are in New Jersey, so not too far.


Best of luck!
SK
 
A good place to check on used cutters, Maple Heights, Ohio

Yes, Boggs/Wired bids is always a great starting point. My issue buying a used cutter and finding someone to service it. Apprecite it thanks
 
Hello Brett,

I have worked with Bruce, the owner at Colter and Peterson and he was good to us. It is one of the biggest cutters the Saber X15 Plus, it is a monster. It was a bit bumpy initially but they lived up to their word. They also sell reconditioned, smaller ones, here is a link to their reconditioned machines. They are in New Jersey, so not too far.


Best of luck!
SK

will check them out thanks.
 
We have Challenge cutters and have used them since the 70s. I can't say enough good things about the older ones. They are simple and very reliable. Of course the more stuff you get, the more there is to go wrong and if you aren't doing high volume work, do you really need a powered back gauge?
 
I liked the Challenge Titan 200 but not their larger 27/30"+ units. At these sizes I prefer a Baum/Polar unit. In my opinion, I'm not a fan of the larger Challenges because the unit I tested ran a hydraulic pump the whole time, whether you were cutting or not. The Baum only runs the pump when it's making a cut. Who needs all that noise when you're not cutting?! Their direct service has been pretty good, very expensive parts though.
 
We had a Mohr (Polar) 80 NET for five years. Apart from the knife and oil change, it needed zero servicing. A wonderful machine, indeed.
 
I liked the Challenge Titan 200 but not their larger 27/30"+ units. At these sizes I prefer a Baum/Polar unit. In my opinion, I'm not a fan of the larger Challenges because the unit I tested ran a hydraulic pump the whole time, whether you were cutting or not. The Baum only runs the pump when it's making a cut. Who needs all that noise when you're not cutting?! Their direct service has been pretty good, very expensive parts though.

Very true, but our 70s 26.5" Challenge is still running on the original hydraulic pump. :)
 
I've only used Polar and they've been relatively problem free. Sounds like you don't have a lot of work for them so you could get a pretty bare bones one. We've run our cutters all day for years and they still work fine. Only issue is that parts get harder to come by as the years go by but luckily these machines rarely ever need anything replaced unless an operator does something silly. Overall, I like these cutters better than others that I've used but I'm biased because it's what we use all day.
 
All the shops I've ever worked at have used Challenge. I've never had an issue with the machines that couldn't be fixed with a service manual or a competent local technician. (Our technician isn't related to Challenge, he's a dealer for a few printing machines but is one of those jack-of-all-trades types.).

At my current shop, our Challenge is a Champion 305 was manufactured in 1971 (53 years ago) and is still running strong on the original hydraulic fluid. Only very recently have we encountered some blade travel issues. I'm having our local tech guy source and replace the hydraulic fluid. I have no experience with the newer challenge machines, but I strongly reccomend buying an older one. They were built like tanks and most competent service folk familiar with the print industry in your area should be able to support it.
 

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