The Italian company, Julia Utensili SPA, has, since its inception, been involved in manufacturing high-speed steel blading, explains First Cut Director Gary Willis. However, in terms of tungsten carbide tipped (TCT) blades, the company has now increased its range. While Julia has been producing TCT blades for cutting timber for many years, it has recently begun to develop and manufacture TCT blades for cutting steel. Recently, the company has invested substantially in machinery and developing products for this TCT blade market.
Julia is Italy’s leading manufacturer of high-speed saw blading and has an enviable reputation worldwide. In South Africa, Julia products are distributed by First Cut, the foremost local supplier of cutting consumables and capital equipment for steel processing.
“Julia’s initial entry into steel-cutting TCT blades was called the ‘Iron Lady’. However, Julia has replaced this blade with a new range of three TCT saw blades for use on flying cut-off sawing equipment,” continues Willis.
The first in the new range is the Flytek Raptor, a circular saw blade with Hard Metal (HM) teeth and physical vapour deposition (PVD). HM is obtained through the synthesising of tungsten carbide dust, titanium and tantalum, mixed with cobalt dust as a binder. For its part, PVD reduces the friction coefficient of the blade allowing for cooler cutting and longer blade life. The Raptor blade is intended for the ‘flying’ cutting of steel pipes with wall thicknesses greater than 3 mm. For particular applications, it can also be used on static cutting-machines. Raptor blades have a special geometry which reduces vibration and helps with chip evacuation. They are available in diameters from 400 mm up to 690 mm.
The second in the range is the Rototek Hornet, a TCT blade specifically designed for flying orbital cutting where blades rotate around the pipe. The carbide tips are designed to be fracture-resistant while the blade’s low vibration gives extended blade life. Thanks to their design, these blades have the advantage that they can be re-sharpened. They are available in diameters of 250 mm up to 400 mm.
The third blade in the range is the Jointek Intruder, a HM blade with improved impact resistance, specifically developed for the flying cut-off of continuously welded pipes with internal weld scarfing.
Most of the blades in this particular range are available with varying numbers of teeth, with sometimes as many as six tooth number choices for a particular blade. While these new TCT blades all have application in a broad range of industries, another major advantage First Cut has in selling them, is that they can re-sharpen all three blades at their Benrose facility.
The choice is also very application-specific, explains Willis. “Because of this, at First Cut, we ‘go the extra mile’ and actually visit customers’ factories to find out what type of material they are cutting and what type of machines, cutting speeds and revolutions per minute they are using to carry this out. “Based on these investigations, we recommend the most suitable type of Julia blade,” he continues.
In terms of support for the South African company, the Italian company’s Area Export Manager Luca Dreossi visits South Africa every year to update the local operation about new products, discuss budgets and sales for the next year and offer consultation and technical advice to First Cut’s customers. “Over the years, First Cut has developed a strong relationship with Julia Utensili”, says Willis. “Luca was here recently with us and our customers,” he explains.
“We have a lot to do after this visit from Luca. For example, if we take a customer that is cutting steel tube and is getting 10,000 cuts out of a blade, we have to supply this company with a product that has an even greater life and ultimately offers the customer a lower cost per cut − something we can do with these new Julia blades,” he asserts.
First Cut’s Technical Manager, Johan Barnard spent much time with Dreossi, both at First Cut headquarters in Benrose as well as visiting customers.
The introduction of the new product has now allowed First Cut to compete in areas which were not accessible to it previously.
“Importantly, with South Africa’s steel industry currently facing considerable challenges, the new range of steel cutting blades from Julia will offer First Cut’s customers and affordable means of reducing their cost per cut and, ultimately, increasing future profits,” Willis concludes.
About First Cut
With 63 years of industry experience, First Cut is a leading South African distributor of a range of cutting consumables and capital equipment.
Since producing its first band saw blade in 1960, First Cut has grown its offering substantially over the years, and is able to meet the needs of a vast range of industries through the supply of band saw blades, circular saw blades, hacksaw blades, and other cutting consumables.
First Cut’s merger with Alexander and Poole in 2001, an exclusive agent for the Starrett range of cutting tools, was a significant milestone in the company’s history, as was its acquisition in 2002 of Band Sawing Services, which meant that the company could expand its services into capital equipment.
Since then, First Cut’s capital equipment division has grown exponentially, thanks to its partnerships with some of the best-known brands globally. The company’s capital equipment division specialises in metal cutting, sheet metal processing, structural (such as CNC bending and punching), and tube and pipe processing. First Cut has also invested substantially in its service programme enabling the company to provide repairs and maintenance services for a wide range of machines, from entry level band saws to state-of-the-art CNC controlled drilling and cutting lines.
Employing 240 people, First Cut is based in Benrose, Gauteng but has a national footprint and distribution facilities across South Africa.
Quality is at the top of the agenda at First Cut and the company has achieved the ISO 9001:2015 certification and adheres to strict quality and safety regulations.
Kendal Hunt Communications
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