Sign & Digital Graphics

August '19

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62 • August 2019 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S CNC routers are a staple in the sign industry. With the help of many different knives and bits that attach to the machine, sign shops can do every- thing from cut metal and vinyl to engrave wood or carve out high-density urethane. To keep these tools in tip-top shape, it is important that users understand what types of materials they plan to cut with them and the melting point of those materials, says Chuck Donaldson, general manager of Antares Instruments Inc. in Horsham, Pennsylvania. "The tool as it cuts will generate heat. In general, the softer the material and lower melting point, the more air required around the tool," he says. The bits used for plastics have one flute, or twist, in them. Instead of looking like a drill bit with two helixes, they only have one helix, which allows the chips to eject and is less likely to heat up the material. It gives the tool more air to keep the cut cooler and more area for chips to clear. It also is less likely to have pieces welding back onto the material, he adds. The bits to cut softer metals look more like a double helix or two spirals, which increases the amount of strength for the cut but leaves air in the area for chips to be pulled out. Bits that cut harder metals need three flutes to combat the hardness of the material. For the care and longevity of physical cutting tools, the biggest thing is to try and not overuse them, Donaldson says. C N C R O U T E R B I T S NOT JUST Keep your CNC router running in top form B Y P A U L A A V E N G L A D Y C H Paula Aven Gladych is a writer based in Denver and has been covering the signage and graphics industry since 2014. ARCHITECTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL Bit A

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