I am looking to start automating a product I make out of a foil based foam. Its a 5 layer system that constists of: Aluminum Foil - Polyethylene Backing - Closed-Cell Polyethylene Foam - Polyethylene Backing - Aluminum Foil
The product is 5mm (+-0.5mm) thick, and I am currently drawing templates on it and cutting it with a standard razor knife. It comes in 1.2 meters wide rolls by 50 meters long.
I would love to have something like a vinyl sign plotter that rolls the product through it as there are some 20+ pieces that we cut out.
Can anyone make a suggestion on a good product that will work with this material?
Problem is that your material is nothing like the vinyl material used in vinyl cutters.
The material used for vinyl sign cutting has backing sheet and the swivel head cutter is adjusted to only cut the vinyl this is to allow the machine to work. The cutter head on the machine only moves in the x direction the y direction is controlled by moving the whole lot backwards and forwards, this method cannot be used if you want to cut right through the material. You will need some form of gantry machine and the smallest radius cut will be limited, probably best to consider a laser but that will put the price up.
I think you'll need a 4-axis machine if you don't want to go down the laser route as you'll need to turn the blade in the direction of the cut (it might be possible to have a freely rotating swivel blade, but I'm not sure how well that would work). As mentioned, you'll have a limited cutting radius - but then you've probably already got that with your manual cutting.
It might be possible to use a mill-like cutter, but it could get very messy, and the edges may not be as sharp as you'd like.
What about a roto-zip type cutter? Would it leave too rough an edge?
A precision edge is not critical here, as long as it looks nice. As far as the radius of the cut, there are not any that a super tight presently. Like I said, we are presently using a standard razor knife to cut this stuff and it works great.
We are cutting several pieces of different shapes and sizes, and making a "kit" for resell. It presently it taking 2+ hours to cut out one kit, by the time we trace the templates out on the material, and then cut with the knife.
The biggest problem is our longest piece is 135cm (~53"). Most of the flat bed stuff that is affordable I am seeing is limited to ~120 cm square...
Can anyone recommend a good cheap laser that has a larger cutting area?
I have a done a little more research, but I am a complete newbie at all of this.
I have determined that a CNC with a router bit that will cut upto 1/2" MDF and a laser attachment will allow me to multi-purpose the machine in the shop. But I really need one with those features, but also has the ability to mount a sharpie to it, so parts can be labeled by the machine as well.
Looking for recommendations by anyone.
Don't think you'll get an off the shelf machine that can do all this, you are looking at a gantry type machine with three heads, all different, all performing different duties. Can be done but forget cheap, cheap(er) if you build it yourself maybe.
I suppose the sharpie could be used in place of a router bit with the appropriate tool offset but unless your material lies very flat you may have issues with keeping the nib in contact.
I think John S has some experience of setting up lasers if I remember correctly, the multi material aspect may legislate against it tho' ask John.
If this machine will be used intensively, as it seems it will be, you really need to be looking at industrial quality machinery, especially if your living depends on it and that means not cheap.
Jeff.Nothing is foolproof......to a sufficiently talented fool!
If there are only 20 shapes could you cut it as you would cut a fancy fold up cardboard box blank using a die and a press? It's practically instant and very repeatable
Edit: Google for "steel rule die"
Last edited by Robin Hewitt; 01-11-2009 at 04:12 PM.
Well its 20 pieces per kit. We offer presently 10 different kits, and want to offer more... Each kit is unique to its application
When I say cheap, I would like to keep it around $25,000 USD..
I do not care if we have to manually change the heads out. That is not as big of an issue as finding something that can cut wood, this foil/foam material, and have a sharpie / pen attached to it.
i.e. we run the pen / sharpie first, have it label the parts, then run which every cutting head, based upon the material being used.
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