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Innovating to Improve Hold Down

Innovating to Improve Hold Down

February 2014

When their customers expressed a need for a better method to hold down materials for pendulum processing, especially with longer cutting areas, AXYZ International responded by developing a system that improves efficiency and operator safety while lessening waste.

AXYZ, the leading supplier of CNC routing and cutting solutions to the industrial woodworking, furniture production, joinery and panel processing industries, introduced their Auto Zone Management System, a highly configurable vacuum system option that ensures material being processed is held securely throughout the cutting cycle. Machine operators don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn the vacuum on and off at the back and front when it’s time to switch.

“The Auto Zone Management System helps automate the process and reduce the potential for operator error and critical failure with materials,” says Greg Jenkins, AXYZ’s vice president of sales. “For example, without the Auto Zone, if the operator forgets to turn the vacuum back on, nothing holds the material down and all of a sudden, a rotating tool goes plunging into the material at 18,000 rpm and sends your material flying off the machine. So AXYZ’s Auto Zone Management System is important because it helps reduce accidents, the loss of materials, and human error.” 

The system has three vacuum modes, Independent Switching, Pendulum, and Live Deck. For total manual control, individual zones can be switched via the zone manager function in Independent Switching mode. The Pendulum Processing mode allows the vacuum to switch between two virtual zones (usually the front and rear halves of the machine) so that the router can operate continuously for maximum productivity. Live Deck automatically activates and deactivates vacuum zones according to the live position of the cutting head.

“These additions to the Auto Zone Management System were offshoots we created because customers wanted to be able to focus material hold down more effectively, especially when cutting smaller parts on a bigger sheet of material,” says Jenkins. “They’re process automation improvements to help increase output and profitability.”

The Auto Zone Management System has been a popular option particularly for aluminum composite panel builders where machines can reach lengths in excess of 478 inches long. “For machines of that size, you don’t want a guy running back and forth from one end of the machine to the other turning switches on and off so the automation really makes a huge difference in how efficiently they can run their equipment,” says Jenkins. 

The Auto Zone Management System compliments other standard and optional production tool enhancements that expand the capabilities of all AXYZ routers. These include the latest A2MC machine control system that greatly reduces or eliminates ‘bounce’ and vibration caused by sudden acceleration or deceleration, and the AVS (AXYZ Vision System), which is fully integrated within the A2MC controller and compatible with all of the cutting tools used with AXYZ routers, including oscillating, tangential and drag knife cutters to enable a much wider range of processing materials. 

Machine wear has been reduced with the new helical rack and pinion drive system. The addition of multiple gear teeth within the system ensures a more even workload distribution, resulting in a significant increase in feed rates, more accurate cutting, and smoother and quieter operation of the router.

AXYZ International maintains their standing at the forefront of CNC cutting and routing solutions because they take the time to listen to their customers and create solutions that improve efficiencies and safety. “We spend a fair amount of time working with our customers directly and trying to be responsive to their needs,” says Jenkins. “A lot of the engineering development we do is the result of a client asking a question and we say, ‘Hey,that’s a great idea.’ It’s really about the interaction with the customer and solving their issues.”