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    CNC Router Veteran Shares Practical Knowledge Part 2


    cnc router practical knowledge

    CNC Router Veteran Shares Practical Knowledge Part 2
     

    Higgins came to the sign world in 1993 from the CNC manufacturing industry. With more than 20 years of CNC machining to his credit, he is uniquely positioned with a broad understanding of CNC tools, hardware and software. Higgins is currently the general manager of Capital Letters in Brooklen Center, Minn. and a respected CNC routing consultant.
    SignIndustry asked Jay some questions that will help you reach new heights in CNC routing.

    Q: How can sign makers more effectively utilize digital printing in conjunction with routed sign parts? Any practical tips there?
    A:
    Using digital prints in conjunction with CNC routing is a relatively easy thing to do when they are in small formats. The problem with CNC routing a large format vector shape to match a digital print is that the digital printer will often distort the digital print disproportionately so that it does not match up easily with the vector cut shape. Allow plenty of bleed to the digital print, especially when the digital print is printed in more than one run.

    Q: How can sign makers more effectively match files together?
    A:
    File conversion and being able to recognize file extensions are very important "learned" skills. Some filters in design programs shrink, distort, and interpret objects, text, and shapes differently. Example: some .dxf files may look to have complete arcs but are really ploy lines or line segments that might not produce the outline shapes that you want.

    Q: What is the best method for realigning a double-sided sign on a router in order to cut out the other side?
    A:
    I personally like to rout double-sided signs in two pieces and them join them together back to back. This, of course, must mean that the shapes are symmetrical. If this is not an option, scoring an outline in your waste board, or building a contoured jig may be the answer. Dowel pins may be another way of realigning the shapes to the table as well from side to side.

    Q: Moving on to finishing techniques, which seems to be challenging to many sign makers coming from a vinyl background, under what circumstances should sign makers pre-paint a blank?
    A:
    Whenever it is possible to pre-paint a blank, do it. Apply your mask afterwards and rout the images as needed. This will allow you to fill in the areas you have just routed without worrying about slopping the paint all over the pre-painted areas.

    Q: What primers work best with various materials?
    A:
    I prefer to use a latex-based primer with sign foams. With aluminum, I prefer a self-etching primer. For PVCs, acrylics and foams generally do not require a primer, but roughing the surface does help the paint to take hold of the material.

    Q: What about work flow strategy? Any practical tips there?
    A:
    Always prepare for the next job coming down the pike. Group your jobs based upon material, tools, and set up procedures.

    Q: Can you offer any other dos and don’ts or practical tips in terms of driving the most creativity and profit out of the router?
    A:
    Know what you can do with your router and inform your sales staff what you are capable of producing. Nothing is more embarrassing than selling a job for the router that cannot be produced and then changing the layout or materials after the job has been sold to enable you to produce the product. Always insist upon a layout before quoting a job over the phone.

    Q: Can you offer some pricing tips?
    A:
    Because of varying demographics, pricing should be based upon what you can produce and what your competitors can produce. Every job is different, especially for the CNC router. Know your materials and the speeds and feeds you can achieve and base your pricing upon that. When it comes to sign foam signs, $35 to $40 per square foot for finishing is a healthy number.

    Q: Lots of sign makers spend their money on the machine, but then don’t invest in the tools. What tools would you recommend as essentials?
    A:
    Only buy solid carbide or carbide tipped tools. Due to the coolant system found on most CNC's, high speed steel tools generally will not last as long as carbide. The proper size collet for the shank of the tool is a greatly overlooked consideration. The collet size should match the shank size of the tool. Sleeving is OK, but rigidity is lost when this is done and, depending upon the material being routed, this could be a finish and quality concern.


    If anything we can help with CNC Routers and CNC spare parts, welcome to contact us, we will do our best to support.