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Recycling is an exercise that involves many processes. One of the main procedures in recycling is the cutting of various materials, and in many cases, this requires specialised blades. First Cut, a leading South African distributor of cutting consumables and capital equipment, has assisted a number of recycling initiatives through the provision of these specialised blades.

FirstCut CompositeBladeA new and unique type of board made of recycled cardboard, intended to be used in the construction of low-cost housing, required a specific cutting solution. When initial blade trials did not meet expectations, First Cut's Cape Town team developed a completely new product after extensive testing. The boards were two metres wide and, for cutting, were stacked 20 metres 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.

“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. 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.”

Another of First Cut’s customers needed to cut up a substantial volume of ultra-large mining vehicle tyres. This company had built its 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 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.

Similarly, when tens of thousands of military projectiles or shells needed to be disposed of, specific cutting tools were needed. First Cut devised an initial method of cutting up this ordnance, and because there was a compound inside the shells that needed to be removed, this method involved the use of a press to separate the 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,” McCrystal says. “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.”

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