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A Cut Above

(September 2010) posted on Mon Aug 30, 2010

How five shops have benefited by investing in cutters and routers

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By Jake Widman

For about the same length of time, the company has had Gerber Sabre routers, and more recently they’ve added a couple of MultiCam machines. “We got our first MultiCam router, a 3000 series, four years ago,” says Freeman. “We needed something that would accommodate 5- x 10-foot sheets. It’s also a powerful machine with a large spindle, letting us plow through some of our more difficult materials, like one-inch MDF.”

Two considerations drove the more recent purchase of the MultiCam Digital Express, a flatbed knife cutter. “The knife cutting capabilities lets us cut vinyl and thin materials quickly,” says Freeman. “We cut window vinyl for a lot of fast food restaurants, in the shape of their brand characters, for instance.

“The second thing it lets us do,” Freeman continues, “is to establish a different price point. Our router tables let us print on Gator Board, but that costs about $30 a sheet. A sheet of polystyrene or PVC, on the other hand, might cost $2 to $6 a sheet. That gave us a high-price product and a low-price product, but nothing in-between. Now, I can get foamcore in the same thickness as GatorBoard for about $10 a sheet, but you can’t cut that on a traditional router table with a spinning bit—you need a knife. So the Digital Express lets us meet a middle price point and gave us increased sales and fabrication opportunities.”

The MultiCam 3000 series router still gets a lot of work, however, as in a recent project for a popular chain of family restaurants. The company needed a sign to advertise a specialty drink served in its restaurants. Store Décor printed the sign on quarter-inch birch plywood in pieces, utilizing a UV printer. “We print these in a variety of sizes,” says Freeman, “and the whole finished image will not necessarily fit on a 4 x 8 sheet.” In addition, the router let them create an MDF backing frame for the sign that has different depths, enabling some elements of the sign to stand out at a different depth from the rest. Once the sign was assembled, they used the router to trim the excess raw plywood from around the image.