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Corporate The devil is in the detail: incremental innovations elevate CNC performance: Photo 1

The devil is in the detail: incremental innovations elevate CNC performance

Intermac has incorporated two performance-enhancing features into its MASTER series of work centres for stone machining. The Material Thickness Probe guarantees consistent edge profiling whilst the Cross Hair Laser speeds up and simplifies suction cup set-up. The net result for fabricators is quicker machine set-up and kitchen and bathroom countertop pieces with a superior finish on profiled edges.

Material Thickness Probe: working with imperfections
One of the universal truths of stone fabrication is that the thickness of natural stone slabs will vary. Although the variation isn’t always visible to the human eye, it is a source of quality issues when creating profiled edges and drainer grooves on kitchen and bathroom work. When chamfering a sink cut-out, for example, the chamfered edge will either be too narrow or too wide in areas, as it follows the contours of the slab. It can also result in drainer grooves being different lengths rather than being uniform as the customer has specified.

Historically, to prevent these potential quality defects from arising, fabricators have either carried out the chamfering manually on a bench (which creates issues with dust and extraction), or they have turned the slab upside down so that the variance is on the top rather than underneath. However, this introduces another set of issues - the slab has to be surface-up to machine the drainer grooves, but the sink cut-out has to be machined first because once the grooves have been created the suction cups that hold the workpiece in place will leak. Neither solution is ideal.

Intermac has overcome this issue by developing the Material Thickness Probe, an innovation that is available on all of its new generation CNCs. This technology uses probes to measure the thickness of the material at numerous points on the sheet surface. The tool will then compensate for these variances in thickness when working on the z-axis, producing a chamfer with a uniform edge, regardless of any variations in the slab itself. The overall effect is a flawless finish that shouts high quality workmanship.

Watch the video here to see the Material Thickness Probe in action.

Cross Hair Laser: speedy set-up
A second feature that differentiates the MASTER series is the Cross Hair Laser, an advanced software-driven system for accelerating set-up. Thanks to this cutting-edge laser device, preparing the work table takes the operator 20% less time than with standard methods.

Ensuring piece placement accuracy through the correct positioning of the suction cups at the start of a job is essential in order to achieve cutting precision. With previous generation machines, this was a much longer procedure involving a positioning tool in the spindle of the machine; the head would move along on the x- and y-axes before dipping down on the z-axis to indicate where the suction cup should be located. Once the operator had manually placed the cup on the bed, the head retracted and moved along to the next cup position. This sequence of movements had to be repeated for each individual suction cup.

The Cross Hair Laser guides the operator through the positioning of suction cups, speeding up the piece placement preparation. The head projects a laser cross-hair to mark the exact location of each cup, enabling the operator to quickly move the cup into place. This significantly reduces set-up time versus the old method of alignment because the tool does not have to drop and retract on the z-axis between each cup placement - with the Cross Hair Laser feature, the head moves swiftly along on the x-and y-axes to the next cup location. This solution is also accurate as the laser’s position is calibrated by the machine’s software.

A further advantage is that the on-board laser device allows the panel to be placed on the work table without the use of mechanical stops, ensuring precision placement and accruing significant time savings. This is particularly useful when handling large sheets that are heavy and occupy the entire work table.

See the full range of Master CNC machines here.

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