Bandsaw Bandwidth

With the implementation of a new bandsaw, a northern California steel service center ups production


Steel service centers are tasked with a variety of challenges best met with the latest sawing technology. For example, some alloys are difficult to cut and cause blade wear and burr formation, which impacts the quality of the cut and forces time-consuming rework. Achieving the precise dimensional accuracy while efficiently removing chips from the cut can add to the challenges, while thermal distortion creates other issues – the list goes on and on. Fortunately, fully automated saws take the onus off the operator, allowing steel service centers to serve customers more effectively.

Valley Iron, a California-based steel service company, has three locations, including the former All Metals Supply in Oroville, which recently implemented a fully automated vertical bandsaw and has enjoyed the improvements that come with such high-tech machinery.

All Metals Supply began in the early 1980s supplying quality metal products to retail customers, job shops, OEMs and structural fabricators throughout central and northern California. This steel service center, located roughly an hour north of Sacramento, was a family affair that began with a handful of employees. By 2014, All Metals Supply had grown its list of employees substantially while expanding on a seven-acre property.

alley Iron serves customers throughout the n orthern and central California area with a variety of structural materials , which are cut with a new Hydmech vertical band saw

The company joined Valley Iron in 2021, becoming Valley Iron, Oroville. Valley Iron also has locations in Vacaville and Fresno. The president at the time said the reason behind the acquisition was to “strengthen both companies to serve our customers with unbeatable service, inventory and resources.”

And, of course, with acquisition comes change. A notable one for Valley Iron, Oroville was the introduction of a new bandsaw from Hydmech.

Feature-rich sawing

Patrick Coomes, saw operator at Valley Iron, Oroville, had years of experience running smaller bandsaws before being introduced to the Hydmech V-21/26APC, a vertical bandsaw with automatic programmable mitering. The saw is feature-rich, and one feature that initially stood out to Coomes was the infeed and outfeed clamp, which more effectively holds the material in place while its being cut.

“A lot of saws only focus right at the infeed clamp,” Coomes says, “but if you’re cutting a bundle with lighter weight material, having the clamp on the infeed and outfeed means the bundle doesn’t rattle around, and that increases blade life.”

The V-21/26APC, Coomes notes, is larger than the previous bandsaw, which allows for bigger bundles, upping throughput. Furthermore, there is no need to constantly recalibrate the saw when a new bundle size or different material type is introduced.

With heavy – duty rollers feeding material to the V – 21/26APC vertical bandsaw, Valley Iron can process longer lengths, thereby upping productivity.

“With our other saw,” Coomes says, “every morning, it would take a few minutes to calibrate the feed and calibrate the tilt. But on this one, the calibration is right there and it is really accurate.”

Easy to use

The V-21/26APC is a heavy-duty bandsaw, perfect for the steel service center environment, as it cuts solid and structural material but is versatile enough to tackle various other sawing applications for shops with needs that differ from that of a steel supplier.

What’s becoming more and more important today with the skills gap and labor shortages is a machine that doesn’t take months to learn. To that point, the V-21/26APC features user-friendly, graphical icon programming for miter cutting.

Steven Elledge, production manager at Valley Iron, Oroville, says that while the V-21/26APC shared similarities with an older saw that got heavy use at the shop, “this one is more user-friendly with the touchscreen.”

Coomes agrees, adding that he received training when the bandsaw was installed, but he paced himself over the course of about two weeks learning about all its capabilities. Echoing Elledge’s comment about ease of use, the programming aspect can be a huge sticking point with many saws that require extensive programming knowledge, but this wasn’t the case with the new saw.

“To build a program and run multiple cut sizes, lengths and dimensions is so simple on this saw,” Coomes says. “Building programs only takes a couple of minutes.”

Maximum capabilities

Steel service centers are often tasked with processing large, heavy material. Long material takes specialized equipment to feed into a saw. The new saw was positioned in an area to improve workflow, but to also install 40-ft. infeed and 20-ft. outfeed roller systems.

“We have a special set of rollers,” Elledge says, “big and beefy rollers – they really help.”

Valley Iron strategically positioned its new V – 21/26APC vertical bandsaw to manage workflow more efficiently.

Whether the bandsaw is cutting big bundles or single rows of material, Hydmech has built in a unique blade chamber feature that retracts the index shuttle, shifting the material away from the cutting area, so as the blade finishes the cut and returns to the start position, it doesn’t “crash” into the material. This eliminates the chance of blade damage or marring the freshly cut material.

Speaking of blade life, one of the biggest threats to a longer blade lifespan is vibration. Hydmech’s “True Direct” drive includes a motor and gear box that are bolted together, which results in better transfer of power between the two moving parts. This offers improved torque and less vibration. Furthermore, the blade’s guide arm is adjustable to move into the most efficient position for different material sizes, which is another way Hydmech optimizes blade life and performance.

Watch the video to see the V21/26APC vertical bandsaw in action and learn about its versatility for different types of sawing applications.

Another cut quality bonus is the adjustable pressure gauge for the clamps on the V-21/26APC. Coomes says on lighter gauge material, he can adjust the vice pressure down so it doesn’t do any damage and then move it back up to lock in thicker and heavier gauges.

“The blades last a lot longer,” Coomes confirms. “And, the cut quality – it cuts really nice and smooth.”


Valley Iron

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