Signs of the Times - May 2017 - 38
paints. They mounted the sign to a
smithed, welded and galvanized steel
bracket and installed it above the main
entrance to the store. The smooth,
clean dimensional sign should
welcome customers for years to come.
waiting on a part holds up production
and upsets clients."
Finally, Hansen suggests subcontracting routed signs first. "This way,
you can build up this service and, once
you have created a market and have
significant sales, you can then invest
in your own machine confidently."
AN HDU PROJECTING SIGN
"Our router is our best friend and
employee," joked Manfred Didier,
owner of Timber Signs OHG (Ofterschwang, Germany). With most of
the work produced by his company
being dimensional signs, you can
understand why. "We mostly do 3D
signs," Didier said. "This means that
we design most signs from the very
beginning as 3D projects. These are
[always destined] to be router jobs."
Didier estimates that around 80% of
Timber Signs' jobs are routed from
CORAFOAM® HDU from DUNACorradini, with the rest spread among
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Corian, Sintra, Dibond, plywood and
Last year, Timber Signs designed
and fabricated a dimensional projecting sign for Kessler, the local hardware
store of a small town. Didier and his
colleague, Marcus Goebels, designed
the sign with the capabilities of their
router in mind. "The shape isn't straight,"
Didier said. "This would take way too
long by hand and the router does
everything perfectly." Therefore, the
letters of the main copy were routed,
and all the letters underneath the oval
were engraved into the background.
They did use chisels to clean away
some of the HDU by hand. "Because
of the diameter of some tools, the
router leaves some marks we don't
want to have," Didier added.
Timber Signs runs their Gerber
Sabre 408 router on Gerber Omega
software. Upon completing the routing,
they coated the HDU with Jay Cooke
Primer, then applied acrylic and 1 Shot
CNC = BFF?
Because Timber Signs uses their
router for almost every project, it's
always a major part of the workflow.
"After the design is proofed and all
necessary files are prepared, we start
with routing," Didier said. "Every
other step comes after." Didier figures
around 30-40% of an average project's
time is devoted to routing. "HDU can
be routed very fast and easily," Didier
continued. "Some other much harder
materials are very sensitive, which
can end in damaged edges or even
broken router bits." Timber Signs'
pricing is based on the square feet
and "elaborateness" of the design and
it always includes the routing time.
"Many mistakes can be made by
preparing the router files," Didier said.
"The router just follows the lines you
create." Choosing the right bits and
parameters can make a huge difference, making the router and programmer a valuable team member,
almost as much as the router itself.
Didier concurs that plenty of research both into the potential market
for routed signs as well as routers and
software themselves should precede
any purchase. "Look for the right dimensions and quality," Didier advised.
"Price is always an issue but a cheap
router with bad components can
cost you much more over the years
than a high-quality router." Didier also
suggests that a tool changer is nice to
have, especially if you work with many
different bits. Finally, a vacuum pump
is a must-have to handle the prodigious
dust and other material shavings
created in the cutting process. "Use
your router as much as possible,"
Didier said, "and you will become