The addition of an IMA BIMA 310V CNC router actually allowed Primeway to manufacture a new furniture line. “Shortly after we got the machine, we started developing our first official case goods line for the office furniture industry, called Flex.” says Kevin Walby, Primeway president.
The Madison Heights, Mich., company’s existing flat table router and straight line edgebander could do a lot of the rectangular parts, but couldn’t be competitive when they had to contour edgeband bullet-shaped tops, bow-front tops and racetrack conference tables. Primeway has concentrated on custom work for hospitals, universities and banks.
“Acquiring this machine allowed us to head in a furniture direction that we really want to go,” Walby says. “We want to be a recognized leader of standardized office furniture. It’s difficult to grow outstate or nationally by only making the one-of-a-kind pieces we do. We needed to develop more of a standardized product that can be selected out of a standard price guide by the dealers and shipped around the country.”
The IMA BIMA 310V CNC is a pod-and-rail machine that was bought primarily for its capability to contour edgeband. “The contour edgebanding attachment on that machine is what drove that purchase,” Walby says. “I actually flew to Germany and toured factories there to make sure we were purchasing a good machine.”
Walby believes IMA is the leader in contour edgebanding. “IMA has a 20-year head start on everyone else,” he says. “Their technology and patents on how the edgebanding is applied to the board is a better process than what some of the others have been able to develop.”
Like other companies that make a variety of products, Primeway uses both a flat table and pod and rail CNC machining center.
“The flat table allows us to do a lot of nesting of parts, so we’re able to cut up to a 5 x 12 foot sheet and maximize the yield,” Walby says. “For our type of operation we had to have the flat table CNC machine for all the curves and pieces we cut, and for nesting all our cabinetry components to maximize efficiency and yield and speed. We couldn’t have started with the pod. Now, with the pod, it’s having the best of both worlds.
“On a flat table machine you can’t bring your tool down and manipulate the edge. The part has to be elevated to manipulate that edge. On the other hand, on a pod-and-rail machine you couldn’t nest the amount of parts on one sheet, they’d all fall off.”
Much of what goes through the BIMA are curved parts that need tooling to the edge. “Applying edgebanding, carving out the edge of a conference tabletop or solid surface top, so much of that edge manipulation we’ve automated by being able to do it on that machine,” Walby says.
The BIMA can cut woods, plastics and solid surface. “What used to take an hour for someone to do by hand now takes four or five minutes,” he says.