Oct 12, 2012

Check out our latest article in Sign World magazine

PC abaclix "Wins Lottery" with ITC
Category: General
Posted by: webmaster

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As one of the market leading providers of CNC routing and cutting, PC abaclix specialises in machining flat sheet materials for the signmaking, point-of-sale and general manufacturing industries. Predominantly machining acrylic, wood, MDF, Di-bond, aluminium and alternate non-ferrous metals, the Shoeburyness- (Southend-on-sea) based company has to place remarkable attention to quality, surface finish and the overall aesthetics of its machined parts.

With a highly specialised plant list and skill set, the company has a niche in the manufacture of both high volume and intricate components. It is in this area that cutting tools from Industrial Tooling Corp (ITC) has come to the fore. Previously using cutting tools from an ITC competitor, PC abaclix was sceptical about changing its cutting tool supplier, a reticence that is justified by the impeccable finishes required from its parts. Additionally, with Europe's only bespoke clamping CNC router for machining multiple sheets simultaneously, PC abaclix spent significant time developing specialised tooling to suit its production needs.

Despite employing tailored tooling solutions, the company was spending considerable time hand finishing its parts because the cutting tools couldn't deliver the high quality surface finishes desired. Initially dipping its toe in the water, PC abaclix trialled ITC's Clearcut range of solid carbide cutting tools with “remarkable” results. PC abaclix's managing director, Mr Vernon Ralston comments: "As soon as we finished the first job with the ITC Clearcut range, it was apparent that the tools were more than up to the job. We used to spend considerable time hand finishing our parts to remove any burrs and ensure a highly polished finish. As hand finishing is standard in the signmaking sector and is acknowledged as the only way to achieve the highly polished surfaces, we were extremely impressed when the ITC tools machined the parts to a polished finish.

“This eradicated any secondary hand finishing and with the performance of ITC cutting tools. the import of cheap aluminium composite finishing and has saved us considerable time on what was previously a labour intensive part of every job."

Highlighting the diversity of its workload and how ITC cutting tools fit into the production environment, Mr Ralston continues: "Some of our recent work includes 50 by 10mm illuminated logos for Rega high end record decks and CD players. This job had to be finished to a very high standard as the logos are illuminated. Another major job we have just undertaken was for the health lottery. Machining six aluminium composite plates at a time, we machined out all the lettering and forms and cut V-grooves in the 20,000 aluminium composite sheets in three weeks." The manufacturer used ITC's straight and spiral flute cutters to complete the two jobs to the quality standards demanded from point- of-sale and high end electrical equipment manufacturers. The health lottery project was initially undertaken by a competitor. However, the competitor failed to meet the surface finish, accuracy and overall quality demands of the project. One of the key reasons for the previous failure and the subsequent success of PC abaclix on this project was the implementation of ITC's cutters. The ITC Clearcut range incorporates highly polished flute geometry. It is this highly polished flute feature that ensures remarkable surface finishes. The cutters also ensure that no swarf remains in the flutes when machining; a key factor in poor quality edges.

"On the health lottery project, we machined all tool paths and then took a finishing cut of 0.1mm. This finishing cut at high speed is what delivered the polished finish. With the Clearcut range removing all swarf from the work envelope extremely efficiently, each of the 20,000 parts was delivered beyond the surface quality and accuracy expectations of the customer."

"Delivering such a prestigious project to the demanding quality levels and short lead times of the customer demonstrates our ability to turnaround large batch work on short lead times to quality levels beyond our competitors. This is credit to our investment in high specification bespoke CNC machinery, a committed and skilled workforce and the support of ITC tooling. With ITC being a UK manufacturer, we can order standard tools for next day delivery. Additionally, they now also supply our specialised tooling on very short turnaround times. This service is outstanding and it is apparent that ITC is a very customer-led business that we envisage doing business with for years to come," concludes Mr Ralston.

An ITC spokesperson said: “PC abaclix is just one of many customers delighted with the performance of the ITC cutting tools. The realisation that hand finishing can be reduced and even eliminated in many instances is proving of major benefit to the sign industry. Throughout 2012, ITC has once again set its stall out as the industry benchmark with a host of new innovations; many of which were launched at the recent Sign UK exhibition.”

With a UK-based manufacturing and R&D facility, ITC has built an enviable reputation for servicing the UK sign industry with the most dynamic tooling solutions available. These new solutions now include new innovations such as the new 3061 Series for machining steel, the extension of the market leading 180 Series of cutters and the 4071 Series of cutters for the machining of Foamex, plastic wood, MDF and additional abrasive materials.

Other new product developments that are now available include the addition of three flute cutters to the 2091 Series of Up and Downcut tools and the 2121 Series of extra long cutters for machining difficult to reach surfaces. Complementing the existing range, the new products ensure ITC will continue to provide the market with the leading solutions for issues such as de-laminating, excessive burrs, poor surface finishes and the ability to eliminate hand finishing in many instances. Leading the market in the provision of solutions, the ITC team is always listening to customers and keeping abreast of market trends. The latest trend noted by ITC is the import of cheap aluminium composite materials.

This creates issues with tool life and surface finishes for end users. As the signmaking market is put under increasing price pressure by its customers, small signmaking businesses are increasingly using low cost Asian aluminium composites. The use of low quality alloys is seeing more manufacturers witnessing low tool life, poor surface finishes and increasing production times. ITC can offer a wide range of products to overcome this issue.

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