Block busters

Sawing large materials requires a unique approach and a sturdy base


Large and heavy block and plate metal materials require a special approach to break them down into useable pieces. These materials arrive at metal service centers in such massive

Originally developed in 1987, the BBS line of bandsaws has received many upgrades over the years, including advanced electronics and software.

proportions that Kasto, a sawing technology specialist company, devised a sawing table that can handle 141,000 lbs. of material. To say the least, service centers have a heavy-duty need for heavy-duty equipment, and sawing equipment manufacturers are stepping up to fill that need.

Kasto, a German-based company with more than 175 years of history, understands the needs of its customers, which is why the company cultivated a wide portfolio of saws for just about every imaginable application no matter the size. In addition to Kasto’s massive sawing tables that can handle more than 100,000 lbs. of material, the company’s portfolio also includes the Kasto BBS, the company’s block bandsawing machine, which falls within a bigger line of block and plate bandsaws.

The challenge with processing large blocks and plates is that milling them can be a significantly lengthy and difficult process where large amounts of scrap is produced. With material costs increasing, reducing waste has to be a priority.

Fortunately, the Kasto BBS machines were developed to reduce waste at the beginning of the process by giving saw operators more accuracy and automated features for higher quality cuts. The line of BBS machines can handle a variety of material types, so if a manufacturer has a massive workpiece that requires a saw that can cut through 6.5 ft. of material, there is a BBS machine available. And if the operator needs a machine that can handle a 46-ft. workpiece, the BBS line has that capability, as well.

Aside from reducing waste, Christian Milles, a sales engineer at Kasto, says the biggest challenge in cutting large blocks and plates is maintaining accuracy and keeping the blades in good shape.

“With big blocks,” he begins, “it’s always difficult to have a clean cut and keep good blade life, and the blades are quite expensive in this size range. We designed the BBS saws to have very smooth and accurate feed. The machines are heavy duty but still very precise and accurate, which also results in better blade life.”

Saw versions

Kasto built its material handling equipment to heavy-duty standards, which reduces vibration and leads to better quality cuts. The saw itself travels along laterally arranged, hardened ground rollers on precisely machined rails, which reduces vibration and leads to better quality cuts.

Kasto offers 11 standard versions in the BBS line, the difference being in the diameter of the cut that each saw is capable of handling. They are also offered in automatic (Kasto BBS A) and semi-automatic (Kasto BBS U) versions. Custom saws upon request.

Milles says the semi-automatic version is a good choice for the saw operator focusing on single cuts. For example, if the job is to split a block in half, the semi-automatic version is the go-to machine.

“As soon as the number of required cuts grows,” Milles says, “we advise the automatic version. The time for setting up the cutting tasks is reduced tremendously. This saves the operator a lot of time, which decreases labor costs.”

Kasto has also built a version that offers a 90-degree option, the BBS A 3×20, which Milles says is unique in market.

“Our engineers developed a system that allows the saw to turn the blade 90 degrees,” he says. “It includes movable grippers for the positioning of the workpiece and 90 degree turning band guides working together that can automatically cut squares out of a plate. Without this system, the customer has to cut strips first and then move the strips to another saw to cut off the squares. The A 3×20 does all this at once.”

Benefits in bulk

A key feature of the BBS machines is the ability to cut long workpieces. The saw itself travels along laterally

The Kasto BBS A3x20 can rotate the blade 90 degrees, which gives the operator the ability to cut squares out of material.

arranged, hardened ground rollers on precisely machined rails. This allows the workpiece to remain fixed on the table. Kasto says the advantage with this approach is that it saves space compared to other systems where the workpiece moves instead of the saw blade. For example, with a bandsaw that remains stationary, if the shop has a 20-ft. table for pre-cut materials, they will need another 20-ft. table to handle the materials after the cut is made. The Kasto approach would require only one 20-ft. table.

Another benefit of the roller system is it reduces vibration. Vibration is the big spoiler in sawing operations, as it can lead to lower quality cuts, slower cut times and reduced blade life, which leads to costly downtime. To ensure the saw isn’t encountering vibration while it travels down the rail as it cuts material, Kasto utilizes torsion-resistant welded construction that controls vibration, reduces cut time, prolongs tool life and delivers precise results.

“The first BBS was built in 1987 and we have continually improved it,” Milles says. “In the past few years, mainly the electrical technology improved to have the newest technology built in and the best self-engineered operator-friendly software available. Of course, other manufacturing technologies are always under review to keep the lead against the competition.”

Another aspect to the BBS machines that is advantageous to users looking for accuracy and ease of operation is that they have electronically controlled saw feed capabilities that can be programmed depending on the type of material being cut. Kasto also touts that the saw speed is “infinitely variable,” giving operators the flexibility to dial in the exact speed rates for optimal performance.

Kasto’s solution for cutting large blocks and plates utilizes carbide and bi-metal blades, which is a bonus for manufacturers that work with a diversity of material types. Users can easily process ferrous materials and non-ferrous materials. Difficult-to-machine materials like Inconel, Hastelloy and titanium are a good match for the BBS machines, as well.

Operator control


Watch the video to see how Kasto’s BBS A 3X20 block bandsawing machine can cut square and flat material with ease.

The best position for the saw operator is in a space where the machine’s display and control functions are easy to see and access. Also important is the ability to see the workpiece unobstructed yet at a safe distance as it goes through the cutting process. While this might not be of upmost importance for a fully automated machine, it does matter for operators running a semi-automatic machine. That is why Kasto designed its system so the operator can be appropriately and safely positioned.

The automatic version has electric motor-driven feed units and workpiece stops, which means the saw can run unmanned, taking the complete block down to the finished, cut-to-size workpiece.

The BBS machines also have a touchscreen control system, which provides important status and error messages. The goal of the control system is to simplify the operation of the machine via intuitive user guidance, which was amplified through its “integrated order memory” that offers ideal conditions for running material through the saw unmanned.


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