Sign & Digital Graphics

December '17

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70 • December 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ARCHITECTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL clips that hold several bits the machine can pick up and drop in place for each routing task, Alvarez says. "The machine picks up the tool, routes what needs to be routed and picks up the next tool," he says. Another accessory for the bits is the misting system, a fairly inexpensive add- on used for metals like aluminum and plastic. The misting system applies a fine mist of coolant to keep the bits cool and to preserve a good cut line, Alvarez says. Without it, the bit or the material being cut can get too hot and possibly melt, leading to poor cutting quality, he says. "The main goal is to maintain the temperature on the tool as well as the metal sheet that you're cutting," Alvarez says. Carl Ondracek, president of Com- puterized Cutters in Plano, Texas, finds that the misting system is one of the most important accessories for a router when cutting metals. "It keeps the router bit cooled and lubricated, so it doesn't get heated up and break," he says. A cold air gun, which mounts to the spindle and is similar to a misting system, blasts a stream of cold air to the cut line with the actual tool doing the cutting. It is used for cutting things like plastics. "It maintains a certain temperature and keeps the material from possibly melting," Alvarez says. Important Accessories to Remember An accessory sign shops might forget, especially those buying a router for the first time, is a dust collector, which col- lects dust and debris and prevents it from contaminating nearby equipment like a The vacuum pump sold by Computerized Cutters, Inc., in Plano, Texas, is inserted in a vacuum hold-down table to keep materi- als in place for optimal cutting by a CNC router. (Photo courtesy of Computerized Cutters) printer. The dust collector is connected with a flexible hose to a shroud that sur- rounds the spindle, and the shroud places the dust and chips into a bin collector. The collection is done through a suck- ing motion. "It can be like a shop vac to suck dirt and dust away," Ondracek says. Another accessory sign shops might use is an automatic Braille ball inserter for A DA signs. The inserter replaces manually inserting Braille dots by drill- ing holes using a bit, removing beads from a hopper and pressing the beads into the holes. "Doing that by hand is very tedious. It's a very laborious job," Alvarez says. The final and most important acces- sory for a router is the design software, which drives the drawings the machine needs in order to cut the parts for a sign or the shape of the entire sign, Alvarez says. The designs are generated in com- puter-aided design, or CAD, software but the machine needs CAM software to translate or convert the drawings into machine language for the actual cutting work, he says. Smaller, Less Common Add-Ons A few accessories that are smaller add- ons include a plotter pen to draw directly on the material without making cuts and various drag knives used in place of the spindle and cutter bits, when the desire is to not have a spinning motion for cut- ting, such as for thinner materials. Sign shops working with a paper- laminated foam core may want to use an oscillating tangential knife, which employs a motorized knife blade instead of a spindle to cut through materials. Or they might use a drag knife to cut octago- nal boxes or odd shapes. The knives pull across the surface similar to scoring with a utility knife, quickly moving up and down to smoothly cut more difficult materials. An accessory that is less common is a diamond engraving bit that does scratch engraving or etching and is used for materials such as mirrors, glass, marble, granite and acrylic products. It produces

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