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Selection of a band saw machine

The dimensions and type of material to be cut are the primary criteria for selecting a band saw.

By construction, we distinguish between two basic types of belt cutters:

  • Horizontal – in which the blade of the cutting belt is placed horizontally in relation to the material being cut. We can divide them into scissor belt cutters and column belt cutters.
  • Vertical – in which the blade of the cutting belt is placed vertically in relation to the material being cut. With this type of cutting machines, we can cut contour, flat details, sheet metal, multilayer plates, etc. Depending on the mode of operation, we can divide cutting machines into manual, semi-automatic and automatic.

Division of band saw machines
What do we cut?
The basic criterion for selecting a band saw machine is the size and type of material to be cut. The general rule of thumb is that the larger the material being cut, the more rigid the cutter should be. This is necessary to achieve perpendicularity of the cut. While for smaller sized parts the rigidity that scissor belt cutters have is mostly sufficient, column belt cutters are preferred for large sized materials. If we know what we want to cut, we know the dimensions of the material to be cut, then already on this basis we can determine in which group of cutters to look for the right one for us.

Operating principle
These are cutting machines that require the physical force the operator exerts on the head. A separate subgroup of this type of machine is gravity cutters, in which the descent of the head can be controlled by the operator by adjusting the choke without the need for manual pressure on the head. First of all, there are scissor cutters.

Hand cutting machines are mainly designed for unit and small batch cutting and for cutting through materials with different cross sections. The handheld belt cutter is used for cutting materials up to 250 mm in size and at angles of up to 60°, depending on the type of cutter. If you need a cutting machine that is sturdy, durable and relatively inexpensive, a handheld band saw is a good choice. This type of device, for example, is the FMB Phoenix belt cutter.

FMB Phoenix cutting machine
Operating principle
This type of cutter is characterized by partial automation of the cutting process. Actions such as, for example, closing the vise, starting the belt, feeding coolant, working feed, stopping the belt run, stopping the coolant feed and opening the vise are controlled by the operator via the control panel. Unlike manual cutters, the head feed is hydraulically forced. This results in greater cutting efficiency (speed). Differences in cutting time will be evident especially when cutting solid materials from grade steels.

Semi-automatic cutting machines should be used in production cycles where there is a need to cut through materials or one type of parts in small batches. These cutters, depending on the version, allow cutting at angles of up to 60°. For larger sizes of cut material, semi-automatic column cutting machines are used.

Operating principle
In this type of cutting machine, the cutting process is fully automated. The cycles of closing the vise, starting the dam, feeding the material to a pre-programmed dimension, feeding coolant, working feed, stopping the belt run, stopping the coolant feed, and opening the vise are automated. The operator’s role is to control the correct operation of the cutter and often in the automatic cycle it comes down to replenishing the cut material and observing the correct operation of the machine, which automatically feeds the material itself to a pre-programmed length.

Automatic belt cutters, thanks to their design, make it possible to cut materials in repetitive batches of different types of workpieces and materials. They are characterized by high accuracy and efficiency. In most types of automatic cutters, it is possible to use the semi-automatic mode when there is a need for manual intervention in the cutting process.
These are cutting machines used for industrial purposes in mass production.

Another interesting group of band saw machines, for demanding mass production, are pulsating machines. This technology uses percussion (pulsation) as an additional factor to improve the cutting performance of hard-to-cut materials. Pulsation also enables better penetration of coolant, which extends the life of saws.

Automatic belt cutters are subject to trends and use increasingly advanced technologies. In the past, band saw machines, lacking today’s technical solutions, were controlled manually. Only the most advanced ones were controlled by software.

Conventional cut-off machines
In this type of belt cutters, the entire control process is under human control. It is the operator’s responsibility to calculate the parameters for cutting control and change them if necessary. It is entirely responsible for the proper alignment of the material, the cutting process and its progress quickly.
An example of a conventional automatic cutting machine is the AMADA HA 250.

AMADA HA 250 cutting machine
NC cutting machines
These types of cutters have a controller to assist the operator’s work, which enters the appropriate cutting parameters, material and settings of the cutter itself. After receiving detailed data from the operator, the controller adjusts the work of the cutter to changing cutting conditions.
An example of a cutter in this group is the AMADA HFA 250. Such a machine has a memory for cutting programs, control of perpendicularity of cuts, and allows statistics on material throughput and tools used.

AMADA HFA 250 cutting machine
CNC Cutting Machines
They are the most modern and advanced type of automatic dam cutters. They are equipped with a computer with appropriate software. An electronic panel allows a skilled operator to intervene in the machine’s software and change the settings of the cutting process. It is the most accurately working type of belt cutter. The operator’s role is often limited to entering on the control panel the type: grade and shape and dimension of the material, the machine itself selects the parameters in relation to the given specific grade of steel and the changing load (section).

AMADA CMB 75 CNC Cutting Machine