August 20, 2017

First Cut makes productive use of recycled materials

First Cut’s composite blade

First Cut, a leading South African distributor of cutting consumables and capital equipment, has been proud to be able to assist in promoting recycling in South Africa. Through a positive ‘can do’ attitude to service and excellent product quality- and in three notable examples – the company has significantly contributed to the drive for responsible recycling.

‘Cleanly cut’ by a composite blade

In the first example, a blade was needed to cut a new and unique type of board made of recycled cardboard, which would be used by a customer to construct low-cost housing.

When initial blade trials did not meet expectations, First Cut‘s Cape Town team ‘went back to the drawing board’ and – calling on First Cut’s 6 decades of cutting industry knowledge and experience, and after extensive testing, developed a completely new product for this application.

The boards were two metres wide and, for cutting, were stacked 20 high, giving a cutting depth of approximately 120mm. Accuracy of cutting was vital because, if the sides were not straight, the panels would not be accepted and the recycling initiative, in this instance, would come to naught.

“We sought alternative steel types to find a solution. After trying various options, First Cut settled on a blade made of a steel composite, with a high carbon content – a blade material that we had never previously used,” explains First Cut CEO, Ian McCrystal.

“To cut the board effectively, we amended the design of the tooth profile and also exaggerated the ‘set’ of the teeth,” he adds.

With the combination of the steel composite, correct heat treatment, optimal tooth profile and tooth set, the blades met the customer’s requirements in full; and First Cut was able to make a valuable contribution to providing low-cost housing for the economically disadvantaged.

Making the cut’ with mining tyres

The second example of First Cut contributing to recycling involved the cutting up of a substantial amount of ultra-large mining vehicle tyres.

The customer had built their own band saw, but could not find a blade to cut the combination of rubber and thick steel wire contained in the tyres. In previous trials, the rubber clogged other saw blades, while the steel damaged their teeth.

First Cut‘s sales team rose to the challenge and tested a range of blades on this application. Extended testing revealed that a very specialised tungsten carbide blade needed to be imported from Germany to cut the tyres.

This 8.5 metre diameter, 65mm wide band saw blade fitted on the customer’s machine and could cope with cutting both rubber and steel.

When it came to testing the blade, trials, which were conducted in the presence of a technical representative of the German supplier and officials from the mine, were completely successful.

Simple solution for speedy, safe cutting of military ordnance

The third example is in the disposal of tens of thousands of military projectiles or shells. The customer had a limited period in which to complete the contract and needed to estimate how long the job would take.

First Cut devised an initial method of cutting up this ordnance. Because there was a compound inside the shells that needed to be removed, the first cutting method involved the use of a press to separate this compound from the casing.

“While we were working on finding a solution, one of our maintenance team, Gift Nketo, observed the work in progress, and suggested a completely new method of cutting. The First Cut team devised a simple jig which made it possible to cut more shells at one time, speeding the process up considerably.

With the new method, the compound contained in the shells could be removed without the time-consuming use of a press. Also, this new, faster method required a simpler, more affordable machine.

“Our new cutting method improved the customer’s productivity by at least 250%,” explains McCrystal.

“It is our dedication to finding total cutting solutions that has both won and retained our customers over the 6 decades First Cut has been in operation. In these three examples, a major part of our success was the coordination of the efforts of our sales, production and research and development (R&D) teams: all of which worked incredibly well together to arrive at these cutting-edge recycling solutions,” he concludes.

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