You’ve seen the Challengers Award competition for woodworking products at past IWF exhibitions and perhaps have attended the ceremony. Here is the rest of the story for a few selected recent winners.

One of the 2010 winners, the Benz reciprocating knife cutter RCK1, has had better than expected sales considering the economy for the last two years, according to Bob Barone of Benz, Inc.

Reciprocating knife cutter 

Barone says that companies that use a large amount of different materials, such as RV, boatbuilding, and exhibit manufacturers, have found good application for this technology.

Its small-radius applications have proven to be useful for carpet installations in boats and RV’s. “The manufacturers will digitize the carpet shape and cut it with the RKC-1,” he says. ”This eliminates a huge amount of labor as it was all hand-fit before. Yacht builders also like the ability to cut custom logos and boat names into the carpet for that little added touch.

"We are set to launch two brand-new products before IWF this year. The Turbo Floating Unit and the Solidfix quick change system. It will definitely be an exciting show for Benz. See www.benz-inc.com for more information.
Dust-free nesting 

The Aerotech System has been successful for FS Tool & FS Curing, Frank Horvath of FS Tool Corp. told CabinetMaker+FDM. The product line, which won at IWF 2008, continues to expand with new models. Customers have been satisfied with the benefits of dust-free nesting. Horvath says the benefits include increased feed-rates (greater than 20 meters per minute), improved tool life and reduced post-cycle clean-ups. The Aerotech System's ability to reduce combustible dust and improve the work environment's air quality are also important benefits.

Horvath says the most frequent applications have been institutional furniture and cabinet manufacturing. These two applications seem different but they have a common thread, key decision makers are focused on eliminating dust from their production cycle. For cabinet manufacturers, many of whom employ five to 10 people, the owners are on the shop floor and often are directly involved with their CNC router. “They don't want dust in their shops because it wastes time, increases their machine's maintenance requirements, and poses a health concern,” he says.

For the large institutional furniture manufacturers, cycle times are critical and eliminating an entire stage of production is can be very profitable. The Aerotech System also solves a dilemma that CNC routing has brought into their facilities by helping to manage dust produced by a 3/8 or ¾-inch kerf, where previously it was less than 1/8-inch.

As for new developments, Horvath says that FS Tool will be launching several new products at this year's IWF and attendees will be able to see them for themselves.
Carving out a market notch 

The story of Cabinotch has gotten more interesting since the founders won a Challengers Award at IWF 2010, explains Todd Vogelsinger of Columbia Forest Products. Father and son team Phil and Phillip Crabtree used the momentum they gained with the award and woodworkers they met at IWF to continue sharing the potential of their cabinet box system.

Customers, mostly cabinet shops, that tried their precision-cut, custom-sized face-framed cabinet box systems featuring a patent-pending notch along the back of the stiles, where the cabinet box sides slid in with a little wood glue. The bottoms, tops, toe kicks, stretchers and fixed shelves found their spots and when the few required staples were placed, the box systems were essentially ready for installation.

These firms were able to handle unusual jobs easier, like the one-time vanity for a good customer. They were also able to bid on larger projects, and were able to defend their shops against imported cabinets and knock-down kits they saw coming in from China.

Columbia Forest Products had seen the product at IWF and their customers who had tried the system asked them to get the Cabinotch people to add PureBond panels to the offering, instead of the imported plywood that was the only option at the time.

Ultimately, Cabinotch became part of the Columbia Forest Products CFP Components Division, explains Vogelsinger. Behind the scenes, new product options have been engineered into the system since Columbia became involved, such as extended sizes for stiles and rails, and the website, www.cabinotch.com, is being updated with improved features. The Columbia team is also working on product training and shop promotion projects that should help Cabinotch customers take full advantage of the system. The IWF Show in August should see the debut of several of these elements.

Pre-cutting system 

In a CabinetMaker+FDM presentation, Mark Alster of Leitiz Tooling Systems, Inc., described Leitz RipTec pre-cutting system, another 2010 winner, as providing increased productivity, improved surface finish and reduced scrap loss. Manufacturing problems that have been resolved with RipTec include surface defects due to grain chip-out, end grain edge tear-out due to exit cutting pressure, and end-grain separation and tearing.

To remove surface defects due to grain pre-splitting, for example, RipTec could be used on the first spindle, with a standard planing tool on the second spindle to achieve better finish quality. For end grain crushing or tear out on a kitchen cabinet, the use of RipTec on the first spindle and a second spindle finish cutter can help ensure that end-grain cut quality is similar along the grain.

Overall, according to the presentation, the Leitz RipTec pre-cutting system can reduce surface and edge defects, significantly reduce exit tear-out when machining end grain, reducing costly filling and sanding rework and scrap loss.

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