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Sign & Digital Graphics Circulation: 20039 DMA:  Denver, CO

Spin to Win

City: Broomfield State:  CO



380400 Account: 11/01/2011 Date:  69A­1510 Pub Num:  78 Section/Page:  1 / 5 Page Count: 


A primer outlining the most useful CNC router substrates Dunne Fast is the gen eral manager at Artcraft Advertising Ltd Vancouver Since 1965 the company has specialized in the design and man itfacturing of signage and display graphics Contact him via e mail at dfast@artcrfi com If I had eight hours to chop down a tree Id spend six sharpening my axe —Abraham Lincoln

The razoron sharp spinning blades a CN C rapidly router bit make smooth easy cuts into some substrates

but make a big ugly mess out of others Here s a list of some of the more compat ible substrates

Aluminum is a very durable outdoor material that CNCs well

Aluminum works great for CNC routed cut lettering

MDF cutouts can add instant dimension to an exhibit



November 2011



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Sign & Digital Graphics Circulation: 20039 DMA:  Denver, CO WOOD

Solid wood—Good

City: Broomfield State:  CO

of the last century and an excellent can old fashioned

beautiful natural wood is a great rout ine material For millennia people have been carving intricate patterns into wood CNC routers just made it a whole lot quicker and easier Great hardwoods

include ash oak cherry mahogany hard maple etc Routable softer woods include pine soft maple fir spruce hem lock cedar and redwood

MDF—Medium density fiherboard MDF is a big player in the sign and exhibit industry MDF is made by con verting wood chips into fibers Liquid resins are added to create a thick mat

that is pressed into boards using heat and pressure An advantage of MDF for

didate tor routing Plywood is created with layers of veneers These layers are alternated with the grain running at right angles then glued together under pres sure in large presses For outdoor grade plywood the adhesive used is generally a phenolic resin that is resistant to mois ture bugs heat and cold These synthetic resins are also impregnated into smooth top layers to create overlay plywood like HDO and MDO Plywood s large size high strength to weight ratio and di mensional stability have made it a staple of the signage and display industry since its inception Overlay plywood accepts paint and digital prints however the layered edges need a lot of finishing to

380400 Account: 11/01/2011 Date:  69A­1510 Pub Num:  78 Section/Page:  2 / 5 Page Count: 

middle price point of the indoor display market Light tough stable and very easy to work with expanded PVC can also be fire resistant and directly print able Routers cut through it like butter leaving perfectly finished edges And they are available in a variety of colors mean ing that no paint is needed for further savings

Acrylics—Plastic acrylic sheet is an other product that stands strong in the router marketplace Beautiful versatile and durable these rigid sheets come in a large variety of thicknesses and colors They make very stylish and unique dis plays that are easy to fabricate Special router bits for plastic can polish and finish the edges as well Some brands look Erood Other routable wood based include Plexiglass Acrylite Lucite and composites include OSB LDF particle Lexan

the graphics industry is that the prod uct is uniform throughout including the edges MDF edges are smooth and board and Masonite beautiful straight off of the router One PLASTICS disadvantage of MDF is that paint is gen Expanded PVC—Lightweight erally required to finish it even if it will routable expanded PVC sheet products be covered with a digital graphic like Sintra Komatex Komacel and Plywood HDO and MDO—Plywood Celtec have virtually taken over the is one ot the earliest signage materials

A CNC router can be used to facilitate fabrication with

composites as well as alter ing shapes

MDF is cut on a ShopBot PRS Standard CNC router


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Sign & Digital Graphics Circulation: 20039 DMA:  Denver, CO

City: Broomfield State:  CO

380400 Account: 11/01/2011 Date:  69A­1510 Pub Num:  78 Section/Page:  3 / 5 Page Count: 

Composites are a versatile material for exhibit wall panels

Polycarbonates—This is one of the toughest materials on the market Polycarbonates have excellent impact heat



UV and chemical

easy albeit at a somewhat lower speed dimensional genre of signage possible than many other substrates Other Metals—A number of other And in comes in a wide variety of quali ties densities and sizes metals are considered routable but may Other Routable Plastics—There not be quite so easy to work as alumi are a number of other plastics that are num These metals include brass copper

wonderful stuff has made a whole new

resistance They represent a very long term outdoor durable and flame resis tant solution Polycarbonates cut easily considered routable and useful to sisjn on a CNC but the edge finishes are not as makers They include ABS polyethylene clean as acrylics The nature of the mo PVC polypropylene polystyrene HDPE lecular structure of polycarbonate that and PETG creates its strength also creates a minor METAL Aluminum—Most metals don t fit problem that makes the baby smooth into the easy to CNC category with the edges of acrylics and A IDF products more exception of aluminum and honeycomb difficult to achieve aluminum And for long term outdoor Sign Foam—Sign foams are used durability it s hard to beat this common quite differently than other materials in metal as well It is completely impervi this category Rather than just be used as ous to any form of weather and 100 per substrates to carry graphics they come cent recyclable a winning combination in thick easily routed slabs that are ide Special CXC bits are available for this al tor 3 D sculptural signage In other material that make cutting smooth and words the shapes are the graphics This


bronze and mild steel COMPOSITES

Aluminum Plastic—One

of die most

common router substrates are die class of

composites that employ aluminum and plastic Utilizing the light weight and moisture resistance of thermoplastics for the core and thin layers of painted or an odized aluminum for the outer surfaces

these relatively new products are perfect for sign production They often have 012 outer layers with 2mm 3mm and 4mm core thicknesses Sizes include 4 x8 4 xlO and 5 xlO sheets It is dimension

ally stable and weather proof yet much

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Sign & Digital Graphics Circulation: 20039 DMA:  Denver, CO

City: Broomfield State:  CO

380400 Account: 11/01/2011 Date:  69A­1510 Pub Num:  78 Section/Page:  4 / 5 Page Count: 

PVC can be used to build all

sorts of things with a little help from a CNC router

Routing in sign foam is limited only by the imagination

Thick pieces of polycarbonate make durable but attractive and lightweight display pieces


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Sign & Digital Graphics Circulation: 20039 DMA:  Denver, CO

Traditional wood—in

City: Broomfield State:  CO

380400 Account: 11/01/2011 Date:  69A­1510 Pub Num:  78 Section/Page:  5 / 5 Page Count: 

this case cedar still

a great material to use such as this exam ple being routed on a ShopBot machine

that less substructure is required during construction They are easy to work with using ordinary shop and woodworking tools and come pre painted for a com pletely hassle free experience CSC rout ers love these unique products and spin through them with ease The layered edges may not be quite as beautiful as

lighter than solid metal Composites are a UL recognized component for electri cal signs have a Class 1 and Class A fire rating and are NCHRP 350 approved for highway and safety sign age Their layered structure gives them excellent strength and rigidity meaning

PVC or MDF but they are smooth and clean Some aluminum composite brands

include Alupanel AlumaCorr Dibond Graphic Al and KomaAJu So keep your bits sharp use the right one for the job and try something new todav sdg




Product Brands

Web site

3A Composites

Sintra Gator Dibond

www 3acompositesusa com



www atoglas com

Arauco Wood Products

Araucoply plywood

Coroplast Inc


www coroplast com


Corafoam Board HDU

www dencosales com

Hartman Plastics


www hartboard com

Int l Plastics


www intlpiastics com


InteFoam InteCel TUF Board more

www inteplast com

Jain Americas

EX Cel

wwwjainamericas com


Komatex Komacel Komabrite dp KomaAlu

www kommerlingusa com

Laminators Inc

Omega TerraMax Alumaiite Econolite more

www laminatorsinc com

Mitsubishi Intl

Graphic Al aluminum composite materials

www graphic ai com

Multipanel UK Ltd

Alupanel Ecopanel

www multipaneiuk co uk

Nudo Products Inc

AlumaCorr Poly Metal

www nudo com

Pairam America

Palight Palopaque Palsun Paltuf aid Sunlite

www palramamericas com


Duraplex OPTIXLD

www plaskolite com

Sabic Innovative Plastics

Lexan acrylic sheet

www sabic ip com

Sheffield Plastics

Makrolon Vivak

www sheffieldpiastics com

Sign Arts Products

Sign Foam3 HDU

www signfoam com

Simona America

Rigid PVC PP and PE materials

www simona america com

Trupan like MDF

www arauco ct

Spartec Corp

Sungard polycarbonate polystyrene PETG

www spartech com

Tricel Honeycomb

TtriPanel structural panels

www triceicorp com

United Industries

Ultra Board Ultra Plus Ultra Core more

www uttraboard com

Vycom Corp


www cpg vycom com

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Sign & Digital Graphics: Celtec  
Sign & Digital Graphics: Celtec  

Celtec included in round-up article on Expanded PVC Products