Sign & Digital Graphics

April '20

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S D G M A G . C O M • A P R I L 2 0 2 0 • 2 9 Having a router is "perfect whenever there is a lot of versatility in what you are making because the scope of what the CNC router can cut is pretty big com- pared to other machinery out there," Friesen says. "Laser engravers have a limit of materials and the thickness of materials they can work with." Routers are great at carving wood, plastics, nonferrous metals and compos- ite materials like high-density urethane. They can cut dimensional lettering, like thicker wooden letters placed on a flat base to add dimension, or 3 D sculptures. "Having a router gives designers the ability to offer both of those options. Doing anything in 3D takes more machine time so you can charge a pre- mium," Friesen says. But routers are so versatile, they give sign designers an opportunity to think outside the box and offer customers sign options they might not have been able to offer before. Acrylics and aluminum are very popu- lar in this market. Aluminum composite material, like Dibond or MAX-metal, are basically two sheets of aluminum with a plastic core to it. These are popular because they are lightweight and lower cost than full aluminum. Some HDU is used, but not as much for architectural signage. L i n d s a y N e a t h a w k , o w n e r o f Neathawk Designs, started making signs as a hobby out of her garage. When busi- ness started booming, she moved her shop to a larger facility in 2014. Since then the shop has expanded twice. It has a 4'x8' ShopBot CNC and a 5'x10' plasma CNC that her husband built. Routers help a shop save time and gives signs a clean professional look, she says. It also allows a shop to make signs out of materials other than wood. Neathawk Designs uses HDU, PVC, wood and metal to make its signs. The CNC "gives me the luxury of time… I can produce things a lot quicker, multitask and do multiple things simulta- neously. If I didn't have a CNC, I would be hand routing it myself," she says. "When I have a machine running, I can be finishing off a sign that came off the machine, so the turnaround is quicker." When she first got into the busi- ness, she started with a 2'x2' CNC. She says she outgrew that machine within two months of owning it. She couldn't Images courtesy of KC Custom Signs. We make the tools for making the future. ShopBot. Your path to profitability. Oak Branch Manufacturing & Assembly Gainesville, GA Client: Starbucks ® Downtown Disney Tools: ShopBot PRTalpha 96 x 48 and ShopBot Desktop ShopBot manufactures CNC tools that inspire people to turn their ideas into something tangible. When we see signmakers put our tools to work in innovative ways, it reaffirms our commitment to the mission of making digital fabrication technology readily accessible and usable for everyone.

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