Tried & Tested: Polar 115 X/XT

More robust with a new cutting system and clever networking capabilities, the X and XT represented a complete overhaul of the 115 range, says Jon Severs

Considering the success of the Polar 115 E and ED guillotines, which boasted hefty UK sales between 1997 and 2002, you could be forgiven for thinking the company might not have bothered with more than a bit of aesthetic polishing for the 2004 launch of the X and XT. You’d be forgiven, but you’d be very wrong.

The models boasted a sturdier design than their predecessors, the incorporation of a unique knife-changing facility and additional artificial intelligence to help the operator handle different jobs. It was, therefore, quite a different beast.

"The X stands for 10th generation of programmable guillotine and the T in XT signified touchscreen," explains Mark Hogan, Heidelberg UK marketing manager for post-press. "The XT is the top-of-the-range model, ideal for those wanting full-blown systems with materials handling around them."

The X and XT models were the first Polars to be built from the off for the modern networked JDF environment. Where before Compucut and CIP 4 connectability had been the method of choice, the new series incorporated Ethernet capability as standard. The P-Net option also opened up the opportunity for remote service.

Meanwhile, the cutting itself provided another first:Optiknife, which made knife change and adjustments easier and more precise, while it also looked to lengthen the life of the knife itself.

As a result of the sturdier design and this increased robustness of the cutters, X and XT models on the market are more likely to have come from a company that has ceased trading rather than one updating its machinery. "Those choosing a secondhand Polar 115 X will get a 15-inch control screen, whereas the XT has touchscreen operation, job specific programmable parameters, label and distortion correction, as well as an extended range of options," says Hogan.

He adds that anyone looking to buy a secondhand X or XT should examine the service book to ensure the cutter has been regularly checked to ensure it meets all current health and safety standards – checks should have been carried out every six months. 

In terms of which model to plump for, consider whether you would gain in terms of productivity and reduced operator strain by adding joggers, stackers or Transomat unloading devices around the guillotine. The answer could determine which machine you buy – it isn’t a decision that should be made based on price alone.

As for support, Hogan says: "Polar has a fantastic record on retaining a good stock of spares for older models."

Heidelberg tends not to sell used models direct, but it will provide service contracts for secondhand machines.  Hogan adds the XT is harder to come by on the secondhand market than the X.

Both models are still in production, priced from £60,000 for the X and £72,000 for the XT. For secondhand models, expect to pay £10,000-£15,000 for an X and up to £20,000 for an XT.
Cutting length
Clamp opening 1,65mm
Feed depth 1,150mm
Front table length 715mm
    no side tables: 2.3x2.5m
    with side tables: 2.6x2.5m
Table height 900mm
Clamping pressure    
    New X: £60,000
    New XT: £72,000
    Used X: £10,000-£15,000
    Used XT: up to £20,000
What to look for
• Service history
• General wear and tear


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