Cameron Philson, owner and operator of Signworks www.signworksmoray.com reviews the Evolution3 Rocker tool head.
I’m always looking to increase efficiency and productivity on the fabrication side of the business. Earlier in the year, I purchased a 3mtr Keencut Evolution 3 SmartFold and corresponding bench setup which has already proved itself.
Having worked in the sign industry for 17 years or so, I’ve always been looking for the ideal cutting solution for ACM (Aluminium Composite Material). I currently use a plunge track saw with a fine-toothed blade to cut ACM which gives me OK results but it’s extremely messy and dusty which means I have a separate workshop just for cutting ACM.
With my Keencut Evolution 3, I currently use the Double Graphik head for all types of media such as 1/3/5mm foam board pvc and printed vinyl etc., but I know that it is not designed for ACM cutting.
Along came the New Rocker Tool Head…
I’m extremely busy at the moment which has allowed me to really put this tool to the test. I used the Rocker tool head for around 2½ hours each day on various materials, such as 10mm thick foam PVC and 2 grades of ACM. (Hoard board grade and 4mm thick high-grade ACM)
On arrival, the Rocker head was really well packaged and well protected. Looking over the tool itself…it’s got a bit of weight to it and I can tell the build quality is solid and well machined to a very high tolerance indeed, moving the spring mechanism feels very smooth too.
You just know the person that has made it has taken the time and effort to make sure it simply works – the engineering involved is simply stunning.
I looked at the instructions for 2 seconds and tossed them aside, and assembled the rocker head no problem – to be fair I did watch Keencut instructional YouTube video. There is absolutely nothing to setting it up…select a blade, pop it in the blade holder, adjust the depth of the blade and insert it all into the rocker unit.
Being able to place both the Rocker head and the Double Graphik head on my Evolution3 at the same time really helps as I am not having to constantly remove and swap heads.
I initially chose the TECH D.12 blade for the Rocker head as I wanted to test it on ACM (aluminium composite material) as I frequently use this substrate. I applied a laminated print to the ACM panel as I wanted to trim the panel with the print in place, this seems to be the most efficient way in my shop. I intentionally print a stroke line on prints which gives me something to line up on when trimming off the waste area.
I was initially dubious that this cutter would be able to cut all the way through the ACM, but to my surprise it did!
Knowing that the Rocker head with the Tech blade is only for occasional ACM cutting, I started off very lightly and increased pressure with each pass, and after only 6 passes I was through…I did not realise at first that I had cut right through, so I had done an extra pass just to make sure. I like how I can control the pressure of each pass and I guess it will take a few months of constant use to build up the muscle memory for each substrate. The core of the ACM was stunningly perfect, and the aluminium edges were smooth to the touch but understandably both sides had a very slight lip to it. This lip was easily removed with only a very light file on all edges. I would always file the edges on every ACM panel I cut as it stops the print from lifting.
Changing the blade is easy
I make signs on different types of panels on a daily basis and I loved how easy it was to change the blade by sliding the blade carrier out and inserting the other one in with ease, and without removing the tool head from the Evolution 3. It is little things like that I appreciate in my busy workshop. Another added bonus is that I can use my own utility blades, for certain materials, which are readily available.
– It is a clean cutting solution with no messy plastic/aluminium dust to deal with after cutting.
– It is well built and extremely accurate, it does exactly what it’s designed to do.
– The medium-duty blade is great for foam panels, cardboard, packaging etc.
– It’s smooth to operate with no sticking and it sits on my track perfectly with absolutely no wobble.
– It works well on 10mm Foam PVC with no mess. Great finish to the edge too.
– It is very safe, no more trimming down that small panel with a utility knife and straight edge.
It’s difficult to mention any cons on this tool as in my view it’s great; however, I would mention the following:
– It works in one direction, left to right. Having used the Double Graphix head, I instinctively wanted to cut in both directions.
– It is not really designed for large volume ACM cutting, but I knew that as Keencut stress that it is for occasional ACM cutting.
In conclusion, the Rocker Head ‘Rocks’…thanks again Keencut, another great product to help people like me move forward in my industry. My star rating for the Keencut Rocker Head Tool would be 4 and a half stars out of 5.
Signworks is a comprehensive sign making company based in the North of Scotland. The company designs, manufactures and installs all types of signage solutions for a vast and varied customer base.