The cannabis industry, perhaps more so than with other crops, is making technological leaps in innovation. From growing, to harvesting, to processing, there are many new advancements in robotics and automation taking hold. One of the main areas seeing a move to automation is the painstaking process of trimming. While the at-home grower with a handful of plants may still enjoy carefully and meticulously manicuring the fruits of their harvest, hand trimming is economically not feasible for large-scale commercial operations.
The going rate for hand trimming varies from region to region; in some areas, trimmers still make a few hundred per pound, while in others they make an hourly rate a little over minimum wage. The real kicker for producers is the time component. A properly trimmed pound of weed can take a few hours to produce, which eats into production timelines and wage considerations.
Automatic trimming machines are nothing new, but they have come a long way from the rudimentary contraptions of only a decade ago. There are more trimming machines on the market today than ever before, making it a challenging decision to decipher between the options. What is the best trimming machine in 2018? Well, it all depends on what you are looking for.
Considerations Before You Buy a Trimming Machine
There are a few considerations to explore before shelling out possibly tens of thousands of dollars on an automatic trimmer. A small-time grower with a few dozen plants isn’t going to need a conveyor belt system, as an example. A producer planning for a large expansion in the next few years may also want to plan accordingly regarding the trim machine they purchase. Here are a few questions to ask yourself, to guide you towards the perfect automatic bud trimmer.
- What per hour capacity do you require? Do you only have a few pounds to trim per harvest or hundreds? Machines vary from handheld devices to conveyor belt fed systems, find a trimmer which fits your production capacity.
- Do you plan on scaling up? While the future is always hard to predict, often you’ll already have a good idea if you plan on expanding your crop over the coming months or years. Plan accordingly as you purchase.
- Are you planning on trimming wet or dry? Just as there are different techniques for hang-trimming wet and dry cured bud, there are also different machines for wet and dry. If you’ve already hammered out your dry trimming procedures, you’ll want to explore the dry trimmers. On the other hand, if you're going to leave your options option, there are machine bud trimmers on the market which cater to both.
- How much labor will you dedicate to trimming? The ‘automatic’ label is a bit misleading, as there can be still quite a bit of labor required in automatic trimming. Of course, the required labor input versus the cannabis output is much better, but still, some machines are more labor intensive. Know how much cleaning, maintenance and babysitting your automatic trimmer will need before investing.
The Best Trimming Machines of 2018
Once you’ve outlined your operations’ trimming requirements, the world is your oyster. There are dozens of options on the market today, varying from automatic scissors, all the to high-capacity industrial trimming machines. Here are the best-of-the-best, reviewed, to make your purchase decision that much easier.
Best Hand Held Trimmers
Perfect for speeding up the hand trimming process, the Wander is designed to trim fresh buds, while still on the stem. It’s designed to work in combination with a wet-dry vacuum to ensure there is nothing to clean up at the end of a trimming session. Easy to master, and quick to disassemble, EZ Trim promises no damage to the buds themselves.
Pounds Per Hour: 1lb per hour
Size: Handheld tool, with all components fitting into a 20” x 10” x 10” toolbox.
Warranty: One year warranty
Cleaning and Maintenance: Throughout the trimming process, the trimmer must be wiped with water to avoid build-up of resin. At the end of each trimming session, the wand requires full disassembly and cleaning. In terms of routine maintenance, the wand shaft may require disassembly for lubrication.
Another great handheld device designed with manual trimmers in mind is the Trim-Daddy. Redesigned to avoid the issues in the original, the Trim-Daddy can log well over 10,000 hours of use and is guaranteed never to overheat. It can manage both wet and dry crops and it is reminiscent of a plug-in hair trimmer in both its function and form. Its fast, accurate and saves tons on manual labor. Both the price point, size, and simplicity make this a perfect choice for at home growers.
Pounds Per Hour: N/A
Size: Handheld tool, 5” x 2” x 3”
Cleaning and Maintenance: Billed as the only self-cleaning bud-trimmer, the blades are designed to clean themselves as you work. By dipping the blades into a cleaning solution after each session, the blade has undergone the entire cleaning process from start to finish. No mess or technical skills required.
Best Large-Scale Trimmers
When it comes to pounds per hour and scalability nothing beats the power of the Twister series of trimmers. The T2 and all other products are designed to link up and run in tandem to improve production exponentially, without also increasing labor costs. The Twister T2 can process both wet and dry bud and is billed as the industry standard. It is the right place to start for any commercial operation.
Price: Between $11,000 to $13,000 per unit
Pounds Per Hour: Dry 15-19 lbs per hour. Wet 77 to 85 lbs per hour.
Size: 43” x 28” x 33”
Warranty: 10-year warranty, plus an optional 2 year extended warranty
Cleaning and Maintenance: Usually the downsides with commercial bud trimmers is the technical skill required for upkeep and cleaning. Routine cleaning on this machine is simple, as it takes less than a minute to prep the machine for a full high-pressure hose-down. All components are watertight. Cleaning should be done daily, as well as basic lubrication, and vacuum clean out. Other maintenance is minimal, including a regreasing every 50 hours.
A new machine designed to take commercial harvesting by storm, the Mobius is committed to speeding up and improving the automated trim process. It is an all in one unit, designed to give processors more customization over the trim, even if it's automated. Their variable function system allows you to manage tumbler speed, blade speed, machine tilt and more depending on bud size, strain, and moisture content. It trims both wet and dry product.
Price: N/A (Only Available in Canada to date)
Pounds Per Hour: Per pound not available. In their well-documented trim tests, however, they processed 76 liters of wet, very sticky bud in under 16 minutes.
Size: 32” x 44” x 47”
Warranty: 2-Year coverage on the unit, plus a 1-year on the motor.
Cleaning and Maintenance: While the Mobius requires a bit more elbow grease than the Twister, the company still aimed to make it one of the easier models on the market to wipe down. After each session, certain easy-to-remove parts are thrown into a cleaning solution, while other areas of the machine can be easily wiped down manually. It should take a team of two less than an hour for a full system clean. It is a power washer compatible as well. Blades are easily popped in and out, no adjustment needed.
Best Trimmers for Home Grows
Maybe you don’t need to process hundreds of pounds in a day, maybe you just want to save your hands from the tedious work of trimmer a few pounds a harvest. The Trimpro is simple, affordable, and quiet. It’s perfect for use inside a home, as its entirely turned by hand, no outlets required. For a handful of plants, on a low budget, it makes a for a smart investment.
Pounds Per Hour: Depending on the speed of manual rotation, up to 5 pounds per hour.
Size: 14″ x 14″ x 13″
Warranty: 1-year on parts
Cleaning and Maintenance: The Trimpro requires a bit of elbow grease to clean, which means a total scrape and wipe down after each major session. The bag also needs to be soaked to remove the build-up, but this process may be sped up with a bit of rubbing alcohol. Depending on usage, they also recommend sharpening the blades every six months, however, with a bit of practice, this is a process which can be done at home.
In some cases, time or physical ability may prevent home growers from using even manually turned trimmers. Recognizing the need for full automation, even in a small space, Twister has developed their T6 design which is only the size of a small household tabletop appliance. It allows for both wet and dry processing and promises the tightest trim in the industry. The device is easily portable with a grab-and-go design so you can bring it over to a friends house, move it into your garage, or where ever else you need to go.
Pounds Per Hour: Day 4 lbs per hour. Wet 2 lbs per hour.
Size: 42” x 27” x 11”
Warranty: 1 year on parts
Cleaning and Maintenance: The Twister T6 design is not a hose-down cleaning procedure like the other more commercial designs. It requires removal of the motor (an easy process), and hand washing of the components and collector vacuum. However, it is advertised as a maintenance-free trim machine, which makes it perfect for the home grower with little time or technical know-how.