Vertical bandsaw for cutting plastic blanks
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  1. #1
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    Default Vertical bandsaw for cutting plastic blanks

    We machine a lot of Ultem 1000, Acetal, etc. We normally get our blanks pre cut from Boedeker, and that's worked very well for years. Now that we're seeing some supply issues with plastics, it's time to look in to buying bulk plate and cutting the blanks in house.

    My question is what band saw to buy. Looking at new vertical saws unless one of you know of a good used saw local to me. It will be dedicated to this task only. I would like to stay under $1,000, but up to $2,000 is fine if needed. The thickest plate we would cut is 3/4" and I figure a carbide tipped course blade would be best. Blank size is from 1/4" plate, .275" x .700", up to around 3/4" plate, .700" x 2.700".

    It almost seems like I could get away with a cheap benchtop saw and make an adjustable fence on cheap linear guides and a digital scale. I normally buy higher end new equipment, but this just doesn't need a $5,000 saw that we'll use for 5 hours a month, if that.

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    Hi Matt

    First off, unless it's a glass or carbon fibre filled plastic you woin't need a carbide blade

    Second I have run an old DeWalt BS1310 (6'' height 12'' throat homeshop grade) for at least 25 years on plastic heavily (prior to that it did some plastic) and it has coped admirably.

    However, for the sizes and shaps you list I'd prefer to us a table saw with a plastic grind blade as they are more accurate and keep starighter cuts etc etc, ..and for 5 hours a month I'd not spend much $ .....and check out the table saw reviews on the woodworking sites etc etc


    Just my 2 cents, though YMMV

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    Table saw?
    That's what I use for sheets of plastic.
    Seems unwieldy on a band saw.
    Or, a simple panel saw.

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    There are two things in life that scare the ever loving shit out of me:

    1) My wife when I've done something really stupid
    2) Table saws

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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    There are two things in life that scare the ever loving shit out of me:

    1) My wife when I've done something really stupid
    2) Table saws
    In that case any half decent cheapo bandsaw - again look up the amateur wood forums etc

    Your wife? - is your problem

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    If you have concerns about feeding the stock through a table saw you might consider mounting a feeder for cleaner more consistent cuts and your hands will be nowhere near the blade.

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    Those are rather small finished parts to use a tablesaw; both from safety/handling, as well as material waste standpoint, especially at .75" thick. If you do use a tablesaw for those thin strips, clamp a board to the fence that stops about at the centerline of the blade, in order to prevent binding and springback (producing dangerous kickback).

    If those materials are not glass-filled, a generic 14" bandsaw with a fence (makeshift or store-bought) and a plain 1/2 x 3 or 4 hook tooth carbon or bi-metal blade works well, and quickly (my go-to for most misc aluminum cutting also), and safely. If it's glass-filled material, a carbide blade will be needed of course.

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    I'd use a table saw to rip the strips and then the cold saw to cut to length. A track saw might make you less nervous than a table saw. I have a guide I bought from Eurekazone that seems to work alright and that allows me to rip by moving the saw instead of the stock and that is better when working alone, and takes less floor space to work in.

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    I should have put a quantity to my question. At most we would cut 1,000 blanks of any one size. Generally it would be more like 10 blanks to 200 blanks on average. Most can get cut while the machine is running parts, so it's not like somebody has to sit down and cut that many blanks at one time. I can't dedicate several pieces of equipment to this, which is partially why I chose to go with a vertical bandsaw.

    The only other method I have of cutting stuff in house is a giant (to me) automatic horizontal saw that these blanks would just get lost in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by car2 View Post
    Those are rather small finished parts to use a tablesaw; both from safety/handling, as well as material waste standpoint, especially at .75" thick.
    That was my feeling as well. And 3/4" thick is the thickest. Smallest blank would be 1/4" thick, 0.275" wide and 0.700" long.

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    Matt..
    I think Your concerns are spot on.

    You want the ability of a 40k$ auto-saw,
    but with very limited use and only cutting ultra-easy material (plastics) in a controlled environment (aka own use/production).

    My opinion:
    Look at *industrial* wood production table saws and vertical saws for inspiration and samples.
    Look at Festo, probaly the best in the world.

    Recommendation.
    Pick up a light-industrial saw of around 1000$ / 100 kg in mass, around 2.2 kW in power.
    Anything made for that power will be heavier than hobby stuff, and permitted, and the motor, electrics, etc. will all last a long time and are easily replaced with generics if need be.
    Add your own industrial-type infeed and outfeed tables, for around 800$ in materials, looking at the 20.000$ table saws for inspiration.

    +1:
    You might use igus rollers, or pehaps lining without rollers (better, if Igus recommends it).
    The igus lining is a plastic bearing, that is very good for your use case, being relatively cheap. (In my expert opinion, worth what You paid for it).
    And will never jam, get full of dust, etc.
    Igus engineers will help You for free, even with no purchase.

    +2:
    If You were skilled or motivated or had a bit of budget, you s/could replace the saw motor with a 3-phase motor and a VFD, and prefer a very silent motor.
    The motor costs about 2-300€, the VFD about 100€, skill about 150€ to wire it all in, or 20 hours of work.
    2.2kw nominal industrial, in reality maybe 500W max sustained use.

    Less noisy // silent motors are much more comfortable to work with, or work near.
    Higher torque is much better, more than one would think.

    Bigger motors (used at lower max capacity == 20%) are very very much more durable.
    Typical lifetimes are 40 years plus, or 20.000 hours use plus.


    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    I should have put a quantity to my question. At most we would cut 1,000 blanks of any one size. Generally it would be more like 10 blanks to 200 blanks on average. Most can get cut while the machine is running parts, so it's not like somebody has to sit down and cut that many blanks at one time. I can't dedicate several pieces of equipment to this, which is partially why I chose to go with a vertical bandsaw.

    The only other method I have of cutting stuff in house is a giant (to me) automatic horizontal saw that these blanks would just get lost in.

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    Seen a YouTuber working in his home woodworking shop and he had ear muffs on, forgot he left a CARBIDE INSERT wood planer turned on (the ones without the crossover thingy on top).

    Got distracted talking to him brother, while not looking (simple mistake) he leaned over and put his hand down for support on top the planer.

    He even said he knew where he was but believed the machine was off.

    Didn’t hear it though the muffs.

    Lost all 4 FINGERS on that hand to the knuckles in an instant.


    Also seen a fella demonstrating kick back on a table saw and in an instant while trying to educate the public on his mistakes the saw kicked and he almost lost his finger. He was already showing a NASTY yellow/purple bruise on his ribs from the wood that saw previously kicked out.

    A table saw is something I’ll never own, I don’t trust myself but at least I know I can’t trust myself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    That was my feeling as well. And 3/4" thick is the thickest. Smallest blank would be 1/4" thick, 0.275" wide and 0.700" long.
    Yea, @ .275 wide, a table saw wastes almost half a part! As fast as a table saw would be, I don't think that is the way to go here.
    I bought a POS JET band-saw when I was making the flexture vises for my R650 a couple years ago Matt.
    Factoring the cost of EDM for what I needed to do (really the only other way to accomplish it) it was basically free. I use it all the time.
    Even though it is an import POS, it was cheap, and works perfect. This one: JET J-8201K 14-Inch 115-Volt Single Phase Vertical Metal/Wood Bandsaw - Power Metal Band Saws - Amazon.com
    I found it local new for $1200. Not sure if you will be able to get so lucky? But, it was worth every penny.
    Yea, a higher quality saw would have been great, even used. But, who that is actually trying to get shit done, has time for that?!

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    if you are squeamish about fast sfm blades... you should be . nothing will
    maim and hurt you like a woodsaw . use an inverted vise, fence , and a push stick.
    keep your hands away from the blade. just ask three finger Joe.

    shake hands with danger.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v26fTGBEi9E

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    A sled on a table saw or vertical band saw really makes a differece on small parts. Safer and more precise

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    Quote Originally Posted by surplusjohn View Post
    A sled on a table saw or vertical band saw really makes a difference on small parts. Safer and more precise
    I agree, I'd use a sled on top of a table saw. You could mount a nice scale or digital stop to the sled if you wanted and some clamps to keep the operators hands away from the blade. If you aren't cutting bevels the sled will let you cut pretty short pieces safely. Takes up more room that a bandsaw though.

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    Default Or a Hammond Glider?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nmbmxer View Post
    I agree, I'd use a sled on top of a table saw. You could mount a nice scale or digital stop to the sled if you wanted and some clamps to keep the operators hands away from the blade. If you aren't cutting bevels the sled will let you cut pretty short pieces safely. Takes up more room that a bandsaw though.
    Agreed, a sled on table saw with the appropriate blade would be great.

    Or even better ---- find a Hammond Glider sliding table saw. From what I understand, developed for trimming lead type accurately and safely, and adapted for close precise work by tons of woodworkers. The sliding table and heavy adjustable fences make it safer / more "machine-like" to use than a typical tablesaw.

    Eric

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nmbmxer View Post
    I agree, I'd use a sled on top of a table saw. You could mount a nice scale or digital stop to the sled if you wanted and some clamps to keep the operators hands away from the blade. If you aren't cutting bevels the sled will let you cut pretty short pieces safely. Takes up more room that a bandsaw though.
    I also agree with the use of a sled. I also have a Wilton 8201 14" wood/metal band saw (bought in 2005, identical to the Jet 8201, same parent company), and the first thing I built for it was a small (8" by 13") sled (made of 6061 with a 1018 steel rectangle bar that fits into the table miter groove) with a 90-degree reference stop and two adjustable over-center clamps, so I could cut metal plates et al accurately enough for my projects, before I acquired a vertical mill. I still use that sled all the time, and not just for cutting metal.

    For cutting lots of identical small bits of plastic, I'd make a dedicated sled or two, so no measuring or fiddling is needed in production.

    For the record, lots of woodworkers use sleds for making accurate cuts, one classic application being making picture frames with precisely mitered corners rapidly enough to be profitable.
    Last edited by Joe Gwinn; 05-26-2021 at 04:22 PM. Reason: typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    There are two things in life that scare the ever loving shit out of me:

    1) My wife when I've done something really stupid
    2) Table saws
    just don't stand in front of the blade, the guy in highschool was told that by the teacher on a 20HP tablesaw, he took a piece of wood to his wood and layed out for about 10 minutes.he has had wood fly out and go through chairs and chalkboards.

    and yes, table saw is most economical and cuts pretty darn straight.

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    What sheet size are you starting out with ?


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