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数控混合动力切割机如何呈现新价值

2017/10/12 11:46:09

摘要:

Signmaking companies that turn out customized work for their customers have more options today when it comes to programmable computer numerical control (CNC) routers. With so-called ‘hybrid’ CNC machines, all of the cutting tools that might be required for a wide variety of materials are mounted and ready to be used interchangeably.


基于可编程数控混合动力切割机的出现,为客户量身定制的标识制作有了更多的选择。使用所谓的混合动力数控切割机,最强大的功能之一是,可以安装各种材料所需的切割工具,并且,它们还可以互换进行使用。


CNC hybrids are a relatively new trendFor small sign shops, especially, they can improve efficiency and reduce downtime, as there is no need to manually change out the cutting tools.


数控混合动力切割机在标识行业呈现出了一个比较新的发展趋势。特别是对于小型标识商店来说,特别有益,由于不需要手动更换切割工具,而可以提高标识制作的效率,减少不必要的停机时间。


The key to versatility


出色的多功能性

CNC hybrids are becoming increasingly popular as a niche technology because of their versatility. They allow a broad variety of flexible and rigid materials to be cut on a single machine, rather than having to purchase two or more different models for different types of jobs.


由于它的多功能性,数控混合动力技术作为利基技术而日益普及。它们可以在单个机器上切割各种各样的柔性或刚性材料,而使得标识制造商不必为不同类型的项目,去购买两种或更多不同型号的机器。


The key to this high degree of versatility 
is in the design and engineering of hybrids, which can accommodate both the standard router bits typically used for hard materials and knife cutters for softer ones. With only minimal setup time, the router itself can switch from one type of cutter to another, after being programmed.


这种通用性的关键在于数控混合动力的设计,可以容纳通常用于硬质材料的标准钻头和较软的刀具。只要将时间设置最小值,切割机就可以在编程设置后,从一种类型的刀具切换到另一种类型的刀具。


Thus, installing a CNC hybrid can make a lot of sense for sign companies, particularly smaller shops where floor space is at a premium and capital expenditures are made only with the utmost caution.


因此,安装数控混合动力切割机对于标识公司,特别是小型的标识商店而言,进行资本支出是非常有影响的,因为资本的支出是需要非常谨慎,否则会造成很多不必要的损失。


Merging technologies


多种技术合并

CNC routers, which themselves began as plotting machines before the cutters were added, have now been around for more than 40 years. They use digitized point-to-point ‘maps’ to cut shapes along the X and Y access and to drill holes along the ‘up and down’ Z axis.


数控铣床在铣刀加工之前作为绘图机,它们使用数字化点对点模式沿X和Y通道进行切割形状,并沿上下方向进行钻孔。


As the number of materials requiring precision cutting and close tolerances grew, 
a CNC router’s standard carbide bit would not always do a sufficient job. This was especially the case with softer materials, where the bit would tend to grab and distort the edge it was cutting.


随着不同类型材料的增加,数控铣床的硬质合金刀头并不能满足所有的材料,对于较软的材料,钻头总是会抓住并扭曲材料的边缘进行切割。

This is where knives came in handy. Since the cutting surface area of a knife is much smaller than that of a bit, there would be (a) less chance of bunching up the material during cutting and (b) more chance of staying within the required measurement tolerances.


由于刀的切割表面积比较小,在切割过程中,会有较少聚集材料的机会,在所需测量公差的范围内更容易停滞。


For sign shops that used a variety of materials in their production department that needed finishing, the market demand for both CNC routing and knife cutting could mean having to lay out additional funds—and find additional room—for at least two cutting machines. This problem is one of the main reasons CNC hybrid technology was developed later on.


过去,在生产部门对各种材料进行整理时,对CNC布线和刀具切割市场的需求可能要提供额外的资金,并至少需要两台切割机来完成操作,这也是成为了后来开发数控混合动力技术的主要原因之一。


Operator training


对操作员进行培训

In today’s sign and graphics shops, the range of materials can include vinyl, aluminum, hardwood, polystyrene (PS), all types of plastics, fabrics and even leather.


在今天的标识商店中,材料的范围包括乙烯基、铝、硬木、聚苯乙烯、各种类型的塑料,织物甚至皮革等。


All of these materials’ finishing requirements have been addressed with CNC hybrid machines, but it is not enough merely to have the equipment on hand. Operator training is also needed.


所有对这些材料的整理,都可以用数控混合动力切割机来解决,但是,仅仅依赖设备还不够,还需要对操作员进行专业培训。


This is why it is important to work with reputable suppliers, who will provide initial on-site informational visits, subsequent technical updates, prompt phone support, software revisions and/or online training, as necessary.


这就是为什么要与信誉良好的供应商合作,必要时,他们能提供初步的现场访问信息、技术更新、软件修订以及在线的技术培训。


“Our training took less than two days,” says Bill Stender, owner of SF Landmark Signs in San Francisco, Calif., after investing in a CNC hybrid router with a three-head configuration. “Our employees couldn’t wait to start using this machine. Since then, we have had very few issues and they were quickly resolved.”


位于加利福尼亚州旧金山,SF Landmark Signs公司的创始人Bill Stender说:“当我们拥有一台具有三头配置的数控混合动力切割机时,我们的培训花了不到两天的时间,员工就迫不及待地开始使用这台机器了。自从有了这种机器后,我们制作标识的问题就减少了很多,即使出现,也能很快地解决掉。”


A sound business decision?


如何设定一个健全的商业决策

Many sign shops start out these days with the purchase of an inkjet printer that can place a graphic image onto sign stock, which then must be cut to shape. In a low-volume ‘one-off’ shop, using hand tools for the cutting may prove economical, but once the business starts to expand, there is a need for greater automation, duplication and reliability.


标识商店将制作出来的图形必须切割成形,那么,在工作批量为一次性的标识商店中,使用手动工具进行切割可能是比较经济适用的,但是,一旦业务开始扩大,就不再适应过去的切割模式,这时,就开始需要功能更加强大、自动化、可靠的数控混合动力切割机了。


At that point, the question arises as to whether the digital cutting process should be added in-house or outsourced to a specialty subcontractor. The differences between these two options must be weighed not only in terms of time and money, but also with respect to quality control. Anytime a sign is sent somewhere for cutting, after all, there is both a transportation cost and an additional opportunity for damage during shipping. And when timelines are tight, damage to sign stock could result in the loss of a customer. All of these factors need to be considered in the ‘equation.’


数字切割过程有时通过内部自行完成,有时会外包给专业分包商。选择这两个方案,需要考虑的是,不仅要在时间和金钱方面进行权衡,还要在质量方面进行兼顾。无论如何,一个制作完成的标识都被送到某处进行切割,产生运输成本,在运输过程中,也很可能遇到额外的损坏事件,当离交货时间比较紧张时,标识的损坏会导致客户的损失,因此,所有可能出现的状况都需要在一个健全的商业计划中加以考虑。


In any case, most signmakers decide at some point in the growth of their business to make the leap to in-house digital cutting. The timing is a matter of ensuring there will be a payoff, i.e. when their upfront investment breaks even and then starts to generate profits.


而在一般情况下,大多数标识制造商早已决定好了业务的增长模式,以实现跨内部的数字切割。他们会估量回报的时间,前期投资多少,从什么时候开始产生利润。


Indeed, adding a CNC router to a sign shop’s finishing department is commonly the final piece in the business puzzle. With that in mind, the decision to invest in CNC hybrid technology should be made with an eye to the future—will the machine still ‘make sense’ for the business in three, five or 10 years’ time?


事实上,将数控铣床添加到标识商店不是一件容易的事,考虑到这一点,标识制作商在投资数控混合动力技术时,他们会着眼于未来,考虑机器是否在三年、五年,甚至是十年的时间里对业务还存在意义。

Other considerations


其他考虑的方面

There are also a number of other issues to consider in terms of taking the ‘long view’ before investing in CNC hybrid technology.


在投资数控混合动力技术之前,还要从长期方向来考虑。


One of these is, of course, the sign shop’s inkjet printer, which will help determine what size of cutting table the CNC router should have. If the printer is capable of outputting 1.8-m (6-ft) wide graphics, for example, then a 1.2-m (4-ft) wide hybrid router is probably not the right choice. That would introduce an unnecessary limitation and potentially drive clients’ business elsewhere, i.e. to shops with the capabilities for accurately cutting larger signs and graphics.


其中一个要考虑的就是标识商店的喷墨打印机,它决定了数控铣床应具有的切割台尺寸。 例如,如果打印机能够输出1.8米(6英尺)宽的图形,则1.2米(4英尺)宽的切割器就不会是正确的选择,这将引入不必要的麻烦,可能导致客户会将业务转移到其他的标识商店。


Another issue is a router’s control system—how operator-friendly is it and how much training is needed? If the principal operator is ever sick at home or away on vacation, after all, then backup personnel will need to be able to step in, with only a minimum of disruption and downtime.


另一个值得考虑的问题是切割机的控制系统,如果当主要运营商休假,那么,如何把握好最少的停机时间。


The aforementioned benefit of versatility is also variable. The CNC hybrid machine’s capabilities should match the sign shop’s requirements as closely as possible, whether for longer runs where four to five pieces are the same or for custom ‘one-off’ projects. And it may well need to cut six or more different types of materials in the course of any given day.


当然,这种机器的多功能性也是在一定条件下才能发挥作用的,在任何一天的操作过程中,都需要切割多种不同类型的材料,无论是长期运行,还是应用在一次性项目中,数控混合动力切割机都应符合标识商店的要求,与其他机器相配合。


Software can help minimize setup time for these various materials, which is a prime consideration for novices. No one wants to have to turn work away because the setup routine for a new project would cause an inordinate amount of downtime in the production schedule.


此外,这种机器可以最小化缩短各种材料的切割时间,没有标识制造商想要将工作外包出去,因为一个新项目的从设计到制作到安装整个过程中,如果造成过多的停机时间,都将损失双方的利益。


It is also important to make sure the cutting software is compatible with the sign shop’s existing graphic printing software. Otherwise, a new capital purchase could end up compounding problems, rather than fixing them and reducing labour costs and lead times for in-house jobs.


除此之外,确保切割软件与标识商店现有的图形打印软件两者兼容也非常重要。否则,购买的新机器可能会导致复杂的问题,这不仅是修复它们就可以,这样会增加劳动力成本,延长内部工作的交付时间。


Finally, as mentioned earlier, the supplier’s level of support needs to be evaluated before going ahead with the purchase. If a problem arises, it should be easy to reach someone who can perform diagnostic services remotely, rather than wait for them to arrive on-site, so as to resolve issues quickly.


最后要考虑的问题是,标识供应商需要在购买机器之前进行评估,如果出现问题,应即时接触远程执行诊断服务的人员,而不是等到他们到达现场,以便快速解决问题。


That said, support should not become a ‘crutch’ for an unreliable machine. Some CNC hybrid models can operate problem-free for months on end, while others seem to require constant maintenance. It is a good idea to do the homework and check reviews from experienced users.


一些数控混合动力切割机可以在几个月内无故障运行,而另外一些可能需要维护。无论如何,提前检查好肯定是没错的。

The automation equation


自动化方程式

Much as digital inkjet printers have automated the process of graphic production, having all of the cutting options available on one CNC table, with an automatic tool changer to do the swapping out, is a good place to start in terms of automating the process of graphic finishing.


就像数字喷墨打印机能够进行自动化图形制作的过程一样,在CNC工作台上,也可以同时使用所有的切割选项,使用自动换刀器进行交换,来切割图形。


The less an operator has to get involved, the better, as there are fewer opportunities for human error and reduced downtime. Once the user presses the button, he/she can move on and select a different tool for the next material that needs to be cut.


在操作过程中,运营商参与的越少越好,这样一来,人为错误的较少也会带来停机时间的缩短。一旦操作人员按下按钮,切割机就可以继续操作,为下一个需要切割的材料选择不同的工具。


CNC hybrids have been refined over the past decade with these purposes in mind. They have been redesigned based in large part on feedback from signmakers and other professionals who have needed to change cutting tools more efficiently than in the past.


在过去十年中,数控混合动力切割机在功能上不断进行改良。在很大程度上被重新设计,这主要的原因取决于标识制造商和其他专业人士的反馈意见,他们认为,一台强大的切割机需要拥有比过去更加强大的更换刀具。


With a manual tool change, there can easily be five to 10 minutes of downtime. Supposing there are eight to 10 tool changes a day for a typical sign shop, the time savings of a CNC hybrid will quickly add up over the course of a week.


如果使用手动进行刀具的更换,会产生5-10分钟的停机时间。假设一个典型的标识商店每天有八到十个工具要进行更换,那数控混合动力切割机能节省相当多的时间。


In turn, more new jobs can be accepted and, for that matter, shorter lead times can be quoted to customers in the first place. In today’s market, shorter lead times can lead to more referrals and a stronger reputation as the ‘go-to’ shop in town.


因此,数控混合动力切割机可以接受更多的工作,并且在这种情况下,能用较短的时间向客户交货。在今天的市场上,较短的交货时间可以带来更多的口碑和声誉。

If CNC hybrid technology can be judged a viable choice, based on a sign shop’s workload and logistical factors, then there is no longer any reason to purchase two routers, one dedicated to standard bits and other using knife cutters.


如果将数控混合技术判断为最佳的选择,那根据标识制作的工作量和其他因素,就不需要购买两台切割机了。


It is a question of meeting customers’ needs. For the signmaker, this means doing the homework, keeping an eye on the future and determining which system is the best option.


对于标识制造商来说,这意味着他们需要做足功课,观望市场未来的方向和突破口,掌握最先进最实用的系统,为客户创造最大的价值。


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