Start Here November '21

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Page 73 of 102 69 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 1 cut, quality of frame is important, tools are important, also the way the routing is executed is important," he adds. For cutting plastic materials and even wood, it is important that the bits don't get so hot that the material melts or burns. Routers can also be used to score aluminum or plastic so that "we can bend it with pre- cision," Magnani says. The 5-axis machine makes it possible to cut out something that is truly three- dimensional. People have made 3D statues using their CNC router, depending on the size. Larger statues can be carved in pieces and then assembled. The COVID-19 pandemic opened up other possibilities for sign shops. Demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) was high in 2020 with hospitals, schools, shops, and retailers looking for ways to manufacture face shields, sneeze guards, and plastic barriers to help keep students, front line workers, and customers safe, says Smith. Many sign shops stepped in to fill that void, producing PPE from the sub- strates they had available in their inventory. Routers also can be used to make custom wood signs, dimensional sign let- ters, carve HDU sign foam into the 3D marquis signs that are popular in shopping complexes, or to brand products instead of laser engraving them, Smith continues. "Here's the magic secret: it is all in the finishing. Most good-quality CNC routers will create a good product, high quality, and look good," Smith says. But it is really how a shop makes the end product look good that matters. That means having great additional skills, like painting and sand- carving. "That's what separates a good sign shop from an average sign shop. Anyone can print a decal and cut it out," he adds. Donaldson notes that one of his com- pany's customers uses their CNC to cut out wooden snowboard cores. Another shop is cutting acrylic for backlit signage. Customers today expect to be able to go to one shop to get all of their sign and digital graphic needs. Having a digital fin- ishing system not only helps them build a revenue stream from cutting but also increases their revenue potential in the digital printing market, says Packman. Q&A with Kristina Vanderwater, Bouncing Off The Walls To get a picture of how some shops use their CNC machines in unique ways, we sat down with Kristina Vanderwater of Bouncing Off The Walls in Alberta, Canada. Q: What does your shop do/what kinds of items and markets do you serve? A: At Bouncing Off The Walls, we create meaningful, sentimental artwork and signs for nurseries, home decor, and businesses. We also supply sign backers and unpainted lettering to other businesses and DIY crafters. Q: What do you use your CNC machine for? A: We use the CNC machine to cut out all of the names and lettering for our nursery signs as well as the shapes/backers for all of my resin artwork and signs. We also use it for engraving logos and designs into plaques or signs that require detail work. Q: How long have you been in business and how long have you owned your CNC machine? A: We have been in business for 16 years and have owned our ShopBot CNC for 12 years. Q: What's your favorite part about creating projects with your CNC? A: I love the transition of taking an idea from initial concept and turning it into a piece that someone loves as well as the ability to create unique products. Image courtesy Kristina Vanderwater Proudly Manufactured in the USA 800.355.5250

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