It’s time to ditch those manual bud trimmers.
If you’re reading this article, we’ve got to assume you’re in the market for an automatic cannabis trimmer — a machine that can reduce labor by upwards of 900% while doing as good of a job as your best hand trimmers. It’s true: machine trimming doesn’t chew up your flowers like the trimmers of yesteryear. And they’re fast.
But even the best automatic bud trimmers will disappoint if you choose one that doesn’t meet your needs. That’s why — even if you’re a trimmer-savvy cultivator — you’ll benefit from doing some homework.
In this article we will help you select the best bud trimmer for your needs.
Select The Right Type of Automatic Bud Trimmer For You
There are several types of trimmers to consider for your cannabis buds. As you check out your options, think about how you’ll personally approach these aspects of post-processing:
Do you hang your plants for drying on harvest day?
If so, you’re shopping for a dry trimmer — one that trims dry buds gently to preserve your delicate and dried trichomes. You know that drying before you trim increases the quality of your final product, but you might not know that manufacturers design machines for your exact needs. There are specific requirements for dry trimming. (See below.)
Or do you buck your buds right when the plants come down?
When you’re harvesting en masse, it may make sense to get the trimming done immediately and dry the flowers after you trim. This wet trimming method is popular with large-scale growers and those who value efficiency over boutique quality.
What’s your harvest volume?
Of course, you want to buy a bud trimmer machine that matches your production capacity. But make sure to anticipate your growth when you make your purchase — you don’t want to outgrow your new automatic trimmer right away. It's better to buy one that’s a little too big, yet not way oversized.
Otherwise, you can opt for a right-sized machine that complements your future plans. Some trimmers can be run in tandem so you can buy another later for maximum efficiency.
A Special Note About Workflow
There are trimmers for wet trimming and dry trimming. And within those two categories, you’ll find two variants: batch trimmers and throughput trimmers. This is an important distinction — one that cultivators often consider when it’s too late.
Batch trimmers process one load of cannabis flower at a time, typically in batches of 2-5lbs. The technician puts untrimmed cannabis or hemp in the machine, sets it to run, and walks away to do other tasks like packaging or snipping crows’ feet. After a few minutes, they empty the newly trimmed bud and put in another load.
Batch trimmers are limited to trimming dry material in the 8-11% moisture range and typically omit the vacuum systems that are required on most throughput trimmers. The advantage of this is that they are quiet, and can do higher volumes at lower price points.
The disadvantage is that they can’t be used on flower with a moisture content beyond 11%, limiting their versatility and use in high-humidity environments.
Batch trimming works well when staff is limited, or for trim-to-order operations. It only takes one person to run a batch trimmer, though you may employ multiple people to speed things up by doing the prep work, such as bucking, ahead of time. If you want to increase your production capacity you will need to add additional trimmers to the process. Doing so may require additional staff since they can’t be run in tandem, although one person can typically operate 2-4 individual batch trimmers. Given this, if you anticipate increased production in the future, it is more cost effective to buy a bigger machine initially than buying multiple smaller units as you grow.
Throughput trimmers work like an assembly line by continuously trimming as material is fed into the machine. This style of trimming requires the constant attention of the operator to feed the machine. Ideally it also includes the addition of a conveyor to help keep the feed rate consistent and the machine optimized.
To be most efficient you will need plenty of bucked flower prepared to feed the trimmer. You will also need a system to ensure that the flower is being bucked at a faster rate than it is being trimmed.
Throughput trimmers have an advantage over batch style trimmers in that they can trim both wet or dry flower at a wide range of moisture levels. This means the same machine can be used for wet outdoor harvests or boutique dry indoor crops.
It is important to review the capabilities of the throughput machine. You want to ensure it has been designed for both wet and dry trimming. Many throughput trimmers are simply retrofitted wet trimmers that lack the controls to trim dry without incurring significant trichome losses. These losses are caused by high powered vacuum units sucking the delicate trichomes from the flowers and into the blades.
Throughput trimming can be scaled efficiently by adding additional units to the original. The result is that you can more than double production while also reducing labor costs due to assembly line efficiencies.
This means that you can purchase a small throughput trimmer at lower production levels. Then you can add additional units as your production levels increase without dramatically increasing your labor requirements.
The Quintessential Dry Bud Trimmer (Batch Style)
The Triminator Dry is the original batch trimmer and one of the best dry trimmers on the market today.
To run the trimmer, the technician tilts the tumbler of the trimmer vertically and loads a few pounds of dry material into the tumbler. They then rotate the tumbler into a horizontal position and run the machine for 3-5 minutes until they get the perfect trim. (This varies based on the strain, shape of the flowers, and desired trim closeness.)
The machine has a proprietary polymer “shear band” that prevents resin build up. Unlike a metal-on-metal blade system, the proprietary polymer band creates very little friction, keeping the cutting surface cool and minimizing trichome loss.
The Triminator Dry also has an optional kief tumbler. By switching out the trimming tumbler for the kief tumbler, you can maximize the value of your harvest by converting your trim to kief. This allows small and mid-sized growers to cost effectively generate multiple revenue streams from their flower using a single trimming machine.For those growers working at different scales, Triminator offers the ever-popular Mini Dry, which gives the same results at a lower price point, and the Trimintor XL, which offers commercial production speeds.
A New Breed of Hybrid Trimmer (Throughput Style)
While the traditional throughput trimmers have been in production for many years, Triminator recently unveiled a new throughput trimmer designed from the ground up to deliver
hand-trim quality flower regardless of the moisture content.
The Hybrid is designed for speeds up to 40 pounds per hour and easy operation. Like other throughput trimmers, it uses a continuous feed tumbler. The difference — and what makes it faster and more precise than other wet trimmers — is the revolutionary Flex-Knife™. It works by pressing against the helical blade, keeping the surfaces in constant contact for an ultra-clean cut and scissor-like result.
In addition, to accommodate the variable moisture levels of dry, semi-dry, and wet flower without the trichome loss, the Hybrid has variable speed controls that allow you to customize your trim with the touch of a button.
Ready to Invest in a Trimmer?
To truly get the right trimmer, you’ve got to talk to the experts. A machine manufacturer can dial in what you need based on how you harvest, how much you harvest, and what your goals are for the future. They’ll also help you know how your new equipment can play nice with your old equipment for maximum results. To discuss trimmers of all types contact the harvest professionals at Triminator.