The three most important things for a band saw operator to understand are band speed, feed rate, and lubrication. PHOTO courtesy Cosen Saws.
SHOP: Operator skill is an important consideration in using band saws. What are the basics about cutting that an operator should know in order to ensure good cutting performance?
CHIBE: Over the years the band saw manufacturers have tried to make them simpler to operate, but you still need a qualified band saw operator. That’s important because you’re supposed to be paying attention to many different sawing parameters when cutting. A good operator is not sitting there reading the newspaper. I would hope they’re pretty well versed in feeds and speeds. The three most important things are band speed, feed rate, and lubrication. The operator should check the coolant with a refractometer at the start of the shift. You want to make sure it’s not getting diluted or too rich because it’s a hot summer day and the water is evaporating out of it. A good operator always needs to know the proper feeds and speeds. You can look it up online, it will tell you what speed to run the material based on the saw you’re using and the material you’re cutting. With that info it will let you know what band speed to run and what feed rate to run it at. You can go by removal rates, which is the number of square inches removed from the material when you’re cutting it and you also have the linear feed rate and that is how fast the head is actually moving through the material.
You need a good operator and you need someone who understands what the process is. It’s just knowing some simple things too. If you’re looking at it and it’s vibrating, you have to make some adjustments. If it’s squealing a lot, you probably have to lower the speed, maybe increase the feed a little bit. Those are the types of things you want to train your operators about. If you see a lot of steam coming off, then you’re probably generating too much heat. The biggest thing, we always used to call it the tell-tale chips. Get the chips coming off of a job (don’t stick your hands in but put a shovel underneath) they should be warm to the touch but not so hot that they’re going to burn your hand. They should be silvery. You don’t want chips coming off purple, unless you’re cutting with some kinds of carbide. You want the operators to constantly be monitoring things. If you hear a boom, you probably broke a tooth and you might be getting to the point where you may need to change the blade soon. The most important is to check the squareness of the material. If it’s cutting out of square, that usually means the blade is starting to reach its useful life. Operators should always be aware of the saw they are suing and its capabilities to be able to run it efficiently.
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