ITC Designs Route to Productivity for Signmaker
The Design Shop in Barnstaple is an established commercial signage, print and interior design company that offers an exceptionally varied range of services and products. From its manufacturing facility in North Devon, the company can make everything from banners, feather flags, vehicle graphics, PoS & PoP displays, roller banners, exhibition stands, internal and external signage and much more with thanks to its in-house digital printing, CNC machining and laser cutting.
With 10 staff, the 20 year old business has a client base that varies from small local start-ups to large national companies – all taking advantage of the turnkey service that can design, create and build inspiring environments whether it’s a bar, restaurant, classroom or office. For the last 15 years, the Barnstaple business has been relying on the expert support of Tamworth cutting tool manufacturers, Industrial Tooling Corporation (ITC).
Commenting upon the application of ITC cutting tools, the Design Shop’s Adam Paull says: “For years, we have been using routing tools from ITC on a wide variety of applications and materials. We have used ITC’s 3, 4, 6 and 8mm diameter multi-purpose tools down the years, as they have always provided the best all round performance on materials from Foamex and Perspex through to aluminium, acrylic, Di-bond and just about anything else. However, as our company has evolved, so have our tooling requirements – and ITC has been there every step of the way.”
Referring to the specific applications of ITC tools and the technical support, Adam continues: “We were previously using a 6mm diameter tool for machining 18mm thick plywood sheets (8 by 4 foot) and were using a standard routing tool. However, we were cutting ply sheets more frequently for bars, restaurants and exhibition displays and we needed to improve our machining performance. I called Sally at ITC for her technical support and she recommended ITC’s 2091 Series compression tool. We immediately went from almost 2m/min feed rate up to 10m/min – cutting sheets more than 5 times faster than before. Furthermore, the previous tool could only process five 8 by 4 foot sheets before burn-out. The new 2091 Series will process 15 sheets before we need a tool change. This gives us 3 times the tool life and 5 times the productivity. Additionally, the edge finishes are vastly improved and we no longer have to spend 10-15 minutes hand-finishing the edges of each sheet.”
Service Beyond Tools
Not only is ITC supplying industry leading tooling solutions to the Design Shop, the UK cutting tool experts are backing up the products with uncompromising service and technical support. As Adam continues: “Whenever we have a new material to cut; I am straight on the phone to ITC’s Sally Hunt for advice. She will always specify the right tool for the application. This technical support is invaluable.” This level of technical support is underpinned by the service the Design Shop receives from ITC. As Adam suggests: “On numerous occasions, I have called or emailed Sally at 5pm and we have received tools the next day. For a busy business like ours, this customer service and technical support is critical to our success.”
This technical support was recently called upon when the signmaking experts had a number of projects that had to be machined from 3mm thick grey aluminium with poor machine-ability attributes. “We had a series of aluminium signs to produce for external shop and bar signs and we were finding our existing tools could cut the soft aluminium, but there were excessive burrs and the material was welding itself to the tools, generating poor tool life. I called Sally from ITC and she suggested the 180-2362-10K-STA with ITC’s new Iridis coating technology. The results were staggering.”
The proprietary coating technology prevents chips from welding to the cutting tool, even when undertaking dry machining where excessive heat can be generated. For the Design Shop, this has improved tool life by more than 50%. However, the key feature is the surface finishes, as Adam concludes: “With the heat generation from the previous tool, we were witnessing excessive burrs on the edges of the parts and this resulted in considerable secondary hand finishing. The new tool can run at higher feeds and speeds to improve productivity and the coating technology dissipates the heat and prevents burrs from building-up and the waste material from welding to the tool and impacting tool life. We couldn’t be happier with the cutting tools we get from ITC, but more important to us is the service and technical expertise that supports us as we drive the business forward.”