By Olivia Cahoon
Saw blades are beneficial to signmakers and graphic production houses using a range of heavy-duty materials. They are ideal for any job that requires accurate straight cuts.
Industrial-Grade Cutting, in the October issue of Digital Output, shares just how instrumental saw blades continue to be in the signage industry, despite the use of CNC routers and laser cutters.
To further illustrate saw blades’ usefulness, the trend of digitally printed artwork requiring either aluminum profile frames or if canvas, a stretch bar, is relevant. Signmakers, print service providers (PSPs), and even custom framing houses benefit from saw blades.
Above: Hall of Frames in AZ uses saw blades from Atlas Saw & Tool to cut custom frames.
Premiere Picture Framers
Established in 1975, Hall of Frames is the largest family-owned custom framing chain in AZ. With eight locations throughout the state, the company offers custom frames, photo printing, and picture handling services.
At the core of its business is digital printing and finishing equipment. Hall of Frames produces an assortment of custom frames for artwork, fabric, jerseys, posters, objects, and sports. To offer customers a range of sizes and styles, the frame shop relies on finishing technology, particularly saw blades.
For nearly 40 years, Hall of Frames has worked with Atlas Saw & Tool, A Fletcher Business Group Company. “Fletcher is the premiere equipment manufacturer for the frame industry,” says Jay Kogan, president, Hall of Frames.
The shop operates wall cutters, matte cutters, frame joining machinery, and the saw blades from the Fletcher family of businesses. The saw is compatible with a variety of blades selected for size and material—metal, wood, and poly plastic. The company frequently favors an 18-inch blade.
“Not all blades are created equal,” shares Kogan. According to him, not all saw manufacturers know how to efficiently sharpen the blades. “That’s the most important part with a saw blade. You’ll get so many uses from it, and you use it until it gets dull, and then you get a new one. Atlas Saw & Tool’s saw blades last longer and they are sharpened correctly,” he explains.
Hall of Frames also has a CNC router for cutting matte board and other substrates, as well as an Epilog Laser engraver. Its saw blades are reserved for cutting picture frames made out of any material while the CNC routers are used on less industrious substrates.
“Routers are slow, noisy, and dirty,” comments Kogan. “You couldn’t cut six pieces of plexiglass all at one time on a router. It’s not anywhere near as efficient.” However, he points out saw blades can be used to cut plexiglass first before finishing on a router.
Saw Blades Present Partners
Hall of Frames originally subcontracted printing until five years ago. According to Kogan, at that time technology met convenience creating the ideal opportunity to invest in digital printing. “There used to be problems with humidity, drying, and color changes, but all of the major press manufacturers are doing a much better job of making printers that are easier to use.”
The shop offers high-quality photography printing with several Epson printers including the Epson SureColor P20000 and Stylus Pro 11880. With its digital printing capabilities, the company expanded its services by offering short-run printing with custom frames. It’s also made significant partnerships in the sign industry.
Local sign shops often approach Hall of Frames for retail and restaurant jobs where artwork is involved. “There is a big connection between the sign shop and the picture framer,” explains Kogan. “We get a lot of business from sign shops that outsource printing and custom frames to us.”
Kogan got his start in the photography business and brings the same values and attention to detail to the frame shop. He shares, “if a customer wants something to look good, they bring it to us.”
Available Saw Blade Devices
A variety of cutting devices featuring a saw blade are available for members of the graphic arts and beyond. PSPs can narrow their search by looking at material compatibility, available cut types, and specialty features.
Atlas Saw & Tool released a saw blade designed for thin sheet aluminum cutting in Summer 2019. It features a special grade of carbide and unique tooth geometry specially engineered to precisely cut aluminum composite material (ACM).
This specific blade is available in sizes ranging from eight to 20 inches. It handles thin sheet aluminum, ACM, and Dibond materials. It’s also suited for dry cut processing or use with mist coolant, depending on material thickness. According to the company, blades cost $120 to $300, depending on size.
Hendrick Manufacturing offers the VSA ACM Duo vertical panel saw and groover. It features a five horsepower TEFC main blade motor and 1.5-inch maximum depth of cut using the main saw blade. VSA ACM Duo offers a variety of convenient features such as a single switch activation that transitions from cutting to grooving in seconds, integrated dust collection assist, and fully adjustable digital readout scales.
The vertical panel saw can also switch from vertical crosscut to horizontal rip cut. It requires no setup or filtering and features circular grooving blades that are five times faster than CNC routers, according to the company. The VSA ACM Duo cuts through ACM, aluminum, corrugated, melamine, plastics, and wood.
Released in April 2018, the Safety Speed Manufacturing DFC-H5 Vertical Panel Saw offers many saw blade teeth configurations including eight-inch, eight and one-fourth-inch diameter, and five-eighths-of-an-inch arbor. It handles several materials including ACM, aluminum, composite panels, foamboard, plastic, PVC, non-ferrous, and wood. It is available for $5,499.
The Saw Trax Manufacturing, Inc. Sign Maker Vertical Panel Saw uses traditional 7.25-inch saw blades and includes a dust collection system and a pivoting razor knife that uses OLFA blades. It is equipped with specialty accessories for cutting hard and soft substrates used in the sign industry in both directions—vertically and horizontally.
The Sign Maker Vertical Panel Saw also offers an optional rolling shear, sheet clamp, mid-fence, and blade package. Models range from 52 to 100 inches with prices from $2,649 to $5,249.
Blades in Motion
PSPs handling a range of industrious materials such as ACM and composite panels may want to consider bringing a saw blade in house for efficient, accurate cuts. A number of options are available from the vendors included in the roundup portion of this article.
Nov2019, Digital Output