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07.12.2015

Routing made user friendly

With the new automatic bit changer ARC, Zünd has developed yet another automation tool for the sign & display industry. This new feature makes high-volume routing, polishing, and engraving more economical, reliable, and user-friendly than ever before.

Print service providers can no longer imagine life without flatbed digital printers, especially those involved in sign & display applications. They have the ability to print on an ever expanding array of rigid substrates, including acrylics, aluminum, Dibond, Forex, MDF, wood products, and many others. This diversity poses particular challenges when it comes to finishing. Short runs, tight delivery times, and stringent quality requirements are just a few of the hurdles PSPs must overcome, and they look to their digital cutting & routing systems to do so. Market leader Zünd, the well-known Swiss cutting system manufacturer, has for decades been developing and manufacturing fully integrated high-performance routing options capable of cleanly and precisely routing, polishing, and engraving a complete gamut of graphics substrates. With the automatic router bit changer ARC, Zünd is now introducing yet another automation feature that promises to significantly reduce setup times, simplify handling, and increase both the quality and efficiency of these routing processes.

Shorter setup time
Zünd has always been at the forefront of automation in digital cutting. With the ARC, the company once again underscores its pioneering position. The ARC helps the user accomplish routing tasks more quickly and productively than ever and further enhances the level of automation available with Zünd cutters. Compared to manual processes, automated bit changes are dramatically faster and setup times are reduced to a minimum. The advantages of the ARC are particularly noticeable in production scenarios that involve large numbers of short-run jobs or even one-offs, or with more complex routing jobs that require different types of bits for different tasks, e.g. cutting and polishing.

Unattended production
Complex jobs involving elaborate shapes and a variety of processing methods, e.g. routing, polishing, and perhaps even engraving, are extremely time consuming. A significant advantage of Zünd's digital workflow automation is the option to operate the system with little or no operator intervention. With the automatic tool changer, the same is now true for routing operations. Even if they involve different operations, multiple routing jobs can now be layed out on the same sheet, which not only maximizes material usage but also allows the operator to attend to other tasks while the cutter is producing autonomously. The ARC takes care of changing bits according to the job and task at hand.

Increases in routing quality
Even in fully automated routing operations, perfect quality control is now a given; this is in part due to the fully integrated, automatic tool initialization device ITI, which adjusts the tool to the zero point after each bit change, ensuring perfectly consistent cutting depth. In addition, the user can predefine the maximum cutting distance for each bit through Zünd Cut Center. Once the bit is close to reaching that limit, the user is notified prior to starting the next job. This eliminates the problem of having a bit go dull and necessitating a bit change in the middle of a job.

Simplified bit handling
The ARC actively supports the user in keeping mistakes to a minimum. With delivery times being continually shortened and the diversity of required materials demanding such a wide selection of different routing, polishing, and engraving bits, manual bit changes become increasingly tedious and error prone. Mistakes tend to cause unnecessary down time and may even necessitate costly machine repairs. With the ARC, tool handling is greatly simplified and the potential for faulty bit changes all but eliminated. The ARC greatly simplifies bit management. The user can make sure he/she always has the most commonly used bits available in the magazine, and because of distance tracking, is always aware of how long each bit has been in operation. At the same time, the ARC also increases cut quality and the longevity of each bit, since the user can easily assign one or more bits to specific materials. Bits that are used exclusively for routing acrylic, for example, have a significantly longer life expectancy than those that are used to switch back and forth between different materials. For best results, a router bit that was used for processing wood products should never be used for processing acrylics since it will not be able to maintain the edge quality generally required for acrylics applications. For use with the ARC, the router module RM-A QC (Router Module A, Quick Change) was designed to include a spindle with pneumatic collet. Even with a pneumatic collet, however, the operator has the option to use traditional (standard) bits even though the loading process then becomes a manual one.

Freely configurable magazine
The ARC magazine can accommodate 8 router bits with a shaft diameter of 6 mm. Positions 7 and 8 can be used for shaping bits with a cutting diameter of up to 10 mm, such as the V-grooving bit R141. With a couple of extra brackets, the magazine setup can be quickly changed to accommodate regular bits in all positions, including 7 and 8. An integrated cleaning station is located at the top of the magazine; using compressed air, the system ensures each bit is cleaned and ready to go before returning it to its designated slot in the magazine. There are almost no limitations in terms of router bits that can be used in conjunction with the ARC; however, the bits that are specifically designed for this option come with a stop ring.

Comprehensive materials library essential
To populate the ARC, the user can rely on the Zünd Cut Center ZCC user interface for guidance. Once the magazine is loaded as desired, the user assigns a designated position to each bit in ZCC and confirms its placement with the press of a button. A visual representation of the ARC makes loading it very simple and user friendly. One of the great benefits of ZCC is the comprehensive materials library that also includes a vast array of routing parameters. In accordance with these parameters, ZCC recommends the optimal routing tools/bits for the job and material at hand. Before the user starts routing a job, ZCC indicates whether the recommended bits are already available in the magazine. If so, the user can proceed with processing. Customers who have an existing Zünd G3 cutter can upgrade their machine with an ARC with relatively little effort. The upgrade must include an RM-A QC (router module with quick-change spindle) and, depending on the build year of the cutter, may also require exchanging certain other components.

Sensitive production environments no problem
During routing, the ARC magazine is automatically lowered and covered with a protective flap to keep out any dust. Because of their superior dust collection system, Zünd cutters are designed to operate in sensitive environments, e.g. in the vicinity of digital printing equipment. The Zünd dust collector effectively ensures that the inevitable routing dust and debris are removed and the production environment stays clean. This also keeps clean-up between jobs to a minimum, ensuring the cutter is ready to proceed with the next job without further delay.

Caption:
The Zünd ARC makes routing more productive than ever.