Sign & Digital Graphics

Start Here October '18

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26 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 1 8 common sheet size is 4´x8´ but Multicam's most popular machine is 5´x10´ since it is large enough to handle most large sheet material. Look at your current space. Could you fit a 5´x10´ router in your space with room to walk around it and space to load the large sheets of material that will go through the machine? If not, you will need additional space to house your equipment. Boudria recommends that a shop set aside a 20´x20´ area for their router. Warner adds that for desktop routers, a shop will need a work bench or portable stand that supports the foot-to-foot dimen- sions and weight of the tool. "Some manufacturers unnecessarily make desktop models that are entirely too heavy and bulky for a semi-portable tool. Weight is not one of the most important factors, unless you're buying a boat anchor," he says. "A C N C can be very rigid and smooth without all that excessive weight or a welded frame. To be honest, bolts are technically stronger than welds anyway and often can allow for minor adjustments that are not possible with welded frames. Speed, accuracy and repeatability are far more important factors." Hooley says that entry-level routers can be run from a single phase supply of elec- tricity but the larger and more powerful systems will need three phase. Warner agrees, saying that most desktop tools will often operate on a standard 110v 3-prong receptacle and plug while larger gantry models, with electric air-cooled spindles, will need either 220v one-phase or 208/230v three-phase. When it comes to router accessories, Warner suggests shops purchase a good selection of high-quality router bits. "Don't sink lots of money into a CNC and then try to skimp on the main support- ing components," he says. "Most carbide bits will last for a long time when used at the proper feeds and speeds, but when it comes to more fragile bits, always have a spare in case you break one." Other accessories include a remote key- pad for controlling the tool from a distance, a pressure foot for holding down thin or dif- ficult material, special zeroing plates, a digi- tizing probe for copying 2D or 3D objects and a drag knife for cutting vinyl, foam core, soft plastics or cardboard, he adds. Warner's favorite accessory for sign mak- ers is a diamond-tipped engraving pen for etching on glass, mirrors, tile, marble and granite. Another aftermarket accessory that can be added to a CNC router is a low-pow- ered laser engraver. Shops will also need some form of dust collection to pull chips and debris away from the cutter and a vacuum hold down for holding down sheets while machining. "A hold-down system is not integral to the tool and is a convenience that can easily be added on in the future," Warner says. "To get started, you can use C-clamps, toggle clamps, side pressure jigs or even screws to hold parts down. A drill CAD/CAM file can be created to use the CNC with a small bit (1/8˝ or 3/16˝) to drill screw holes outside the finished part for holding down the material you're machining. The software also has a feature that allows you to leave small tabs or bridges between the scrap and finished part so the material stays in place after machining is finished. Without tabs you could potentially damage your part or bind and break your bit." Hooley recommends that AXYZ's users opt for both helical rack and pinion and servo motors on their CNC router. CNC machines provide businesses with a clear competitive advantage over those who rely on more traditional/manual methods. A highly configurable CNC router from AXYZ, suitable for small batch production as well as high volume and high productivity applications. The HSR Series 3-axis CNC router from Hendrick can handle even the most demanding production requirements.

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