July '21

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7 8 G R A P H I C S P R O J U L Y 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M S I G N A G E & P R I N T I N G C NC routers have been around forever, but these days sign and digital graphics shops, and even other graphics shops, are get- ting more creative in how they use them. From three-dimensional signage to chan- nel letters and point-of-purchase displays, companies are finding that the number of specialty items they can create with this versatile machine is only limited by their imagination. There has been a merging of the print service provider (PSP) and the industrial sign shop over the past few years, mean- ing that sign shops are now offering digi- tal printing and digital print shops are ex- panding into making more three-dimen- sional signage. Shops need to determine what specialty items they want to produce before deciding whether they need to pur- chase a full-size industrial CNC router or a smaller CNC digital finishing system. BASIC FEATURES Both CNC routers and CNC digital fin- ishing systems have "knife cutting ca- pabilities and routing capabilities," says Russell Boudria, Multicam. Shops want- ing to get into this side of the business should look at the types of substrates they want to cut before making their decision. If the shop wants to cut sheet materi- al, and/or dense, hard, or raw materials, they will want to purchase a CNC rout- er machine. If the bulk of the shop's in- tended applications involve knife cutting materials, especially roll-to-roll, textiles, vinyl, and banner material, they should purchase a digital f inishing machine, Boudria advises. Chuck Donaldson, Antares Inc., agrees, saying that it is "the materials driving the industry more than the equipment." Antares manufactures cutting tools that are used for engraving, sign, and mold making on both CNC machines and en- gravers. The biggest difference between engraving tools and tools for a CNC is length of tool. "CNCs have better spindles than en- graving machines, a tighter hold, and they turn faster," says Donaldson. "CNCs have become higher in precision, in speed, and volume and output than engraving ma- chines — that is why people are spend- ing three times more for a CNC than an engraver." The material on the machine dictates what tool is used to cut it or what the customer wants the end product to look like. "If a customer wants bigger prod- ucts, larger format, or multiple copies … a CNC is certainly going to make life eas- ier," Donaldson says. A business must balance what it wants to use a CNC for versus the space available in their shop. Another consideration is that Creative New Capabilities HOW SHOPS CAN USE CNC ROUTERS AND DIGITAL FINISHING SYSTEMS TO GROW THEIR BUSINESS Customers today expect to be able to go to one shop to get all of their graphic needs fulfilled. CNC routers and digital finish- ing systems help meet that de- mand. (Image courtesy Vision Engraving & Routing Systems) TO GROW THEIR BUSINESS B Y P A U L A A V E N G L A D Y C H

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