Sign & Digital Graphics

December '14

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72 • December 2014 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ARCHITECTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL That's because softer materials "don't cut well with a spinning bit," Harris says. "The materials will fray and they just don't cut right. They cut better with a knife. Router bits are good to cut wood, rigid plastic or aluminum. You could never cut any of that with a knife, but if you take a piece of foam board and try routing it, it looks absolutely horrible. It looks ratty. The edges flake out of it. If you cut it with a knife, it has a razor sharp edge." Everything MultiCam sells has a CNC router on it. "We're set to cut ¾-cut MDF to acrylic, polypropylene and aluminum, even composites, but then when you get into more traditional sign and graphic materials, we now have knife systems to cut." He adds that half of MultiCam's busi- ness comes from CNC routers with knife systems attached. "We found a lot of people want some- thing heavier," he says. Many of the older substrates are still popular in the sign and digital graph- ics industry, including plywood, MDF, quarter-inch or half-inch acrylic and aluminum. Another popular material is alumi- num composite, which features a plas- tic composite core sandwiched between two layers of aluminum, Harris says. Falconboard and Xanita Board are also becoming more popular. They sandwich corrugated fibers between high-quality, printable surfaces in different thick- nesses, including ¼-inch, 3/8-inch and half-inch. This type of material is good for mak- ing 3 D signage, P.O.P. displays, and flat pack furniture boxes. Greg Jenkins, vice president of North American sales for Toronto, Canada- based AXYZ International, says that "the dimensional sign business is a fantastic business from the wide use of different materials we see through a lot of market segments we sell machines to. Most do wood, plastic, aluminum or something else." Aluminum composite materials like Dibond or Alucobond are used a lot for faces. "They are easy to fabricate, easy to route and come pre-painted. It makes it more shop friendly for guys who are smaller and may not have spray booths in house," Jenkins says. If a sign maker doesn't cut all the way through the aluminum composite mate- rials, it can easily be bent to form light boxes or square boxes, Jenkins adds. High-density urethane ( HDU) foam has also gained in popularity for mak- ing three-dimensional letters. Because the material is thick, the router can cut it cleanly. The material can also be sand blasted but resists warping and cracking. "It is not a wood and doesn't fall apart like a wood might," Jenkins says. CLN of South Florida, a router man- ufacturer in Belle Glade, Florida, also added a camera and a knife to its CNC routers that allow it to cut out vinyl or foam board. "The camera reads the dot registra- tion marks and adjusts the artwork for distortion while the printing process is going on," says Kevin Kane, sales man- ager for CLN of South Florida. "The knife cutting tool goes in and cuts around that shape." The knife cutting system, paired with a vision system, allows the router to cut MultiVision camera reading a registra- tion mark. (Photo courtesy MultiCam) (Photo courtesy ShopBot)

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