Sign & Digital Graphics

May '17

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S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • May 2017 • 83 While many commercial sign shops may have a sheet metal brake, limits are quickly reached when the thickness of aluminum gets over .080 in thickness and for steel the limits are even less. But a typical industrial press brake can make accurate and true bends in metals much thicker and more structural, and with more uniformity and angle accuracy. Though CNC routers are great, and really fit well in a commercial sign shop, waterjets are another heavy duty piece of equipment that has many uses for sign making, and they can cut all types of materials with great precision, from sheet metal to granite, stainless steel to glass. So it is good to know where that type of cutting service is available. As far as cutting goes, a sign maker should never waste his time making low-precision structural parts, like base plates, gussets, and steel parts of most any kind, when a CNC plasma table can cut them very fast and at reasonable cost. After hitting the limits of our first low-end plasma table, we opted for a 6' x 12' German-made Messer plasma table with a 400 amp torch that will cut 2" thick steel plate with ease. But, with the right settings and consumables it will cut stainless steel and aluminum sheet well enough for most sign projects and much faster and less expensively than waterjet cutting. Take note though, not all plasma tables are created equal, and a This medallion, part of a decorative entrance to a ranch, was cut from solid 1" thick steel by waterjet, but our current Messer plasma table would have cut it ten times faster. Delicate materials like these laminated metal and PVC letters can be cut with a waterjet, but longer lead- ins, low pressure pierces may be required. (Left) Items like these "stubby" in-ground sign posts and their plates and gussets are ideal work for a CNC plasma table. A whole group of sign base plates and gussets can be CNC plasma cut before a sign maker could even get out his cutting torch and do a single part by hand.

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