The eyes have it!
Any signmaker wrestling with a tricky routing problem could do worse than follow the example of Nick and Sam Clarke of Moat House Eyewear, who sought the assistance of International Tooling Corporation (ITC) when faced with a challenging routing issue of their own.
When Sam and Nick decided to leave the rat-race and move into a picturesque moat-house near Tamworth and discovered a fallen oak tree in their garden, little did they realise that it would open up a whole new business opportunity.
Rather than using the fallen tree for firewood, Nick was inspired to harness his considerable skill as a carpenter to hand craft the high grade oak into frames for sunglasses instead, a decision which lead to the formation of Moat House Eyewearin March 2013.Now, the company internally produce all elements of the spectacles it makes, from the arms and frames, through to the lenses, using precision machines and a glazing lab all sourced from UK manufacturers, a practice which has become an important part of the its ethos.
The frames and arms are cut with a laser processing machine, instead of the more usualfive-axis machining centres used by other spectacle manufacturers, as this method enables Moat House Eyewear to considerably reduce its material wastage, in line with its green credentials.
It cuts its frames and arms in thin strips and laminates and cross-bonds the glasses to produce more robust, aesthetically pleasing and fashionable eyewear, but an issue arose when the laser machine was unable to carve an accurate recess into the bespoke frames.
Fortunately however, this is where Industrial Tooling Corporation (ITC) stepped in. Sam explained: “A chance meeting with Peter Graves, the Managing Director of ITC, in the local pub, lead to Nick working closely with the ITC engineers to develop a cutting tool that was precisely tailored to our specific needs.”
The resulting V-Grooving tool now works in tandem with the unique jig that Sam and Nick designed for clamping the frames during manufacture and a retrofitted hand-held drill,to deliver a remarkably precise lens seating for each and every pair of glasses.
Nick Clarke takes up the story, saying: ” As well as tool dimensions, the ITC engineers had to consider the rigidity of the fixing system, the speed and torque of the drill, the cutting depth and also the properties of the wood. Fortunately, it is a specialist when it comes to cutting even the most difficult industrial materials and as it has so ably demonstrated, it’s no slouch when it comes to working with wood either!”
He continued: We use Ebony Makassar, a very dense wood that can rapidly burn through cutting tools, but ITC factored this into the calculations too and the result is a tool that cuts rapidly whilst also providing an excellent finish within the lens seat. Furthermore, the V-Groove tool is produced from solid carbide, so tool life is exceptional. We’ve now been running the same cutter for over two months and it still hasn’t lost its sharp edge!”
The unique new line of fashionable eyewear from Moat House Eyewear has only been available since April 2014, but already the company has an established a high end distributor network and also plans to exhibit at a leadingoptical exhibition in Paris. The growing popularity of its trendy new eyewear means that business is booming boomingand plans are afoot for further expansion in the near future.
Nick concluded: “We seem to have stumbled on a very lucrative niche market, but I doubt that we would have progressed this far without the help of the ITC team – it’s been great in every way!”