Using CNCs has a number of advantages in the sign industry which include speed, repeatability and accuracy. With CNCs you can custom rout metal forms to aid your fabricators in the formation of a custom shaped aluminum constructed signs, which is a big advantage to modern sign companies. Previously painstaking and manual task of laying out patterns on aluminum and cutting using the jig saw to get your custom shape is now simple. Just send them to the CNC router to be cut.Common mistakes that sign makers are struggling with today
Lack of knowledge on basic machine principals is the most common mistake that sign makers face today. Another mistake is that they are not well informed on how to properly fix materials on the table. They are also faced with lack of tools to be used to get the task done.Need for training
If you are interested in utilizing CNC routing in sign making, then you should undertake some kind of course at a neighboring community college so that you can gain some skills on basic machining. It is however unfortunate that very few schools provide this kind of training. It is important that local training schools consider offering this course to the people in the graphic industry.Practical tips
In experimenting, you need to have tool and materials. Always use the largest diameter tool to route to the job that is allowable. This is a good rule of thumb. Also always use the shortest flute length for maximum rigidity.Router speeds that work best with various materials
There is a direct relationship between speeds and feeds, with the horse power that you are using. They are also directly related to the coolant system, and the coolant being used. Most people make a big mistake by slowing down the feed rate and at the same time speeding up the RPM. In general, this will create a lot of heat which will melt or weld the material.Recommended tools
It is recommended that you should buy solid carbide or carbide tipped tools. Given the coolant system found on most CNC’s, it is hard for high speed steel tools to last as long as carbide. An overlooked consideration is the proper size collet for the shank of the tool. The collet size and the shank size should match. Rigidity is lost when sleeving is done and this could be a quality and finish concern depending on the materials being routed. How to effectively match files
Conversion of files and the ability to recognize file extensions are very significant “learned” skills. Texts, objects and shapes are shrunk, distorted and interpreted differently by some filters in design programs. For example, dxf files may seem to have complete arcs but are actually ploy lines or line segments that might not give the outline shapes that you desire. Primers that work best with various materials
A latex-based primer with sign foams is the best. With aluminum, it is good to use a self-etching primer.
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