Router Contributes to Firm's Efficiency
Embree Recognition Systems, a producer of donor wall systems, expands its wood capabilities with a new CNC router.
Adding a new CNC router helped Embree Recognition Systems of Hamilton, ONT, Canada, expand its product line to include more elaborate wood designs in an efficient and profitable manner.
The company specializes in “donor wall systems” — plaques and related items that recognize donors’ contributions for customers such as hospital foundations, universities, etc. It previously focused most of its attention towards producing stone, stainless steel and glass designs. But it wanted to expand its market base by developing new styles in wood, especially with 3D contours. “We believe styles in the donor wall business are moving toward wood designs that provide a warmth and traditional appeal beyond what can be found in steel or glass,” says John Cunningham, president. “Our CNC router positions us to be at the forefront of this trend.”
Cunningham, who bought the company in 1995, wanted to expand its capabilities by implementing the latest production methods in order to provide high quality at a reasonable cost. “Our product tells an emotional story,” he says. “For example, someone passing by a donor wall might not know the hospital has a foundation. He learns of the generosity of neighbors and may be inspired to make a contribution himself.”
Fitting the customer’s needs
Examples include wall systems to introduce institutional fund-raising campaigns, an “in memoriam” area to recognize a donation and pay tribute to the recently deceased, or an engraved plaque in appreciation of a recipient’s generosity. Some projects can include electronic wall systems incorporating interactive displays with audio and video capabilities, housed in a kiosk, and operated by a touch on a computer screen that offers a sign-up sheet where donors can commit to a pledge.
Previously, the vast majority of Embree’s recognition systems, like those of its competitors, were made of steel, glass or stone. But Cunningham says, “Wood opens the door to a wide range of 3D patterns that are limited only by your imagination.
“The challenge that we faced, however, in moving in this direction was gaining the ability to produce complicated 3D sculpted and inlaid patterns to a high level of accuracy and at a reasonable cost,” he adds. Thus he decided to look at CNC routers, ultimately selecting a Techno Model 210.
Paying for the machine on the first job
One of the first woodworking jobs the router handled was a wall system used by a university athletic department to honor distinguished athletes and coaches. In the past the university had simply mounted each plaque on the wall. But with well over 100 plaques, the wall had become cluttered and unwieldy. Cunningham developed a simple bar design that holds each plaque within an organized and attractive framework. While the design was simple, it had to be produced to a high level of precision in order to achieve the right look.
“It would have taken a long time to build this wall system by hand, and we could have never achieved the level of accuracy that I was looking for,” Cunningham says. “With the router, we got exactly what we laid out on the CAD system within a few thousands of an inch. The customer loved it.”
In another woodworking application for the new machine, Embree produced honor roll plaques for a private school. The company’s designers replicated the school shield in three dimensions in a CAD program. “In the past, we would have had to either settle for a much simpler design or else contracted out the manufacturing, which would have eaten up much of our profit on the job,” Cunningham says. “With the router, we were able to produce beautiful pieces in a very reasonable amount of time.”
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