Remove protective film from delicate surfaces and maintain quality

Elevator and appliance manufacturers are just two industries that use stainless steel in their products for appearance or design. The material usually is covered with a plastic film to protect it from damage during the manufacturing process.  Film cutting is a very common process to reveal material that will be processed at a later stage.



Mate’s Sheetmarker™ tool can be used for more than marking or etching sheet metal. Using the optional brass film/masking cutting insert (MATE00485), fabricators can use Sheetmarker to cut film using the punch press–eliminating an extra manual step. The film/masking cutter insert was designed specifically to work with harder materials like stainless steel. The insert can be used to cut the protective film only, exposing the sheet below without any damage to the sheet surface.  Simply program the tool to cut the areas to be removed by the machine like any other operation.

Since brass is soft it can become dull quickly and scratch soft materials, so therefore should be checked as frequently as every 2-3 days in high volume operations. For most punch presses, changing the insert requires little time and effort. Salvagnini machines have additional complexity, requiring the operator to disassemble the tooling from the Salvagnini cartridge. For Salvagnini machines, Mate uses a combination of a diamond insert and a super light spring so the diamond only touches the plastic film and will not damage the surface of stainless steel sheet.

Cutting result using Mate Sheetmarker™ No scratch of surface using Mate Sheetmarker™
Protective film removed with Mate Sheetmarker No damage after protective film removed with Sheetmarker.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:The film/masking cutting insert may leave a witness line in the surface of aluminum or other softer materials:

  • Using a light spring could possibly reduce or eliminate the marking in softer materials
  • Using a combination of both a lighter spring and a reduced machine stroke could help reduce or eliminate the marking in softer materials
  • If there is still a mark on the material, the film could be removed by hand by using a Mate InkMarker™ (MATE001723, standalone, or included with the Mate EasyMark™ 5-in-1 System, MATE01724) to use the InkMarker to mark the area for film removal, then manually cutting and removing the film from the area marked.

The film/masking cutting insert might work on anodized aluminum because of the hardness of the anodizing.The film/masking cutting insert (MATE00485) is included with packaged in the Thick Turret 5-in-1 EasyMark™ kit:

  • This tool, when properly setup and programmed, should create 0.030” – 0.040” (0.75mm – 1mm compression of the spring when in the marking mode. If the tool is being stroked too deep, the spring will bottom out (or become fully compressed) forcing the cutting point into the sheet, possibly causing marks.
  • An application limitation exists on Amada machine due to its safety measurement pin the area around clamping. The program cannot run properly in this area, and you need to write an additional G-code in partial to AP100 software. Ask the operator to use this sub-G-code to let easy mark run on Amada machine.
  • There is no problem when the customer uses this tooling on Prima Power or Euromac machines because the clamping is automatically movable.

Another option for protective film cutting is the Advanced Film Cutter from Mate. The Advanced Film Cutter uses a pizza cutter style wheel insert to cut through the protective film, leaving the material unmarked. The Advanced Film Cutter can be used in a fixed station to cut straight lines or in an index station (or Trumpf presses) to create any contour desired, down to a 0.250” radius. Film can be easily lifted and removed as desired. The carbide wheel is installed into modified Sheetmarker parts and can be designed for any tooling style. The Advanced Film Cutter would be programmed similar to the Sheetmarker tool.

Blog Author

John Ripka

John Ripka is an Applications Technician at Mate Precision Technologies.