Bandsaws are useful to prototypers for their versatility. They can be used to cut a wide variety of materials with little setup time. Different specialized blades can be put in a machine to depending on the job to be done.
For freeform shapes, typically all you have to do is adjust the blade guard and start the machine up. For straight cuts, we have a machine with an adjustable fence for pushing your workpiece up against.
Operating a Bandsaw
Thin Blade (12tpi)
In the PDL, the Rikon machines have a thinner blade with more teeth (12 tpi, or teeth per inch). Having more teeth on a blade leads to a slower, more controlled cut. This blade can handle a wider variety of materials, including plastic and metal. Having a thinner blade means you can cut tighter curves. Since the cut is less aggressive, this blade leads to a nicer finish.
Wide Blade (5tpi)
The other type of blade with have in the PDL is a thicker 5tpi blade meant for cutting wood. Larger teeth with more space in between them allows for more material to be removed, resulting in a faster, more aggressive cut with a slightly rougher finish. The wider blade makes it harder to cut tight curves, but is better for straight cuts because this blade with have less of a tendency to drift while cutting. Although this blade can handle a variety of materials, we tend to use it mostly for wood.
If you are trying to cut some round stock and the bandsaw blade keeps spinning it, use a small drill press vice to keep it in place while cutting.
To cut tight curves without twisting the blade, use relief cuts to allow material to separate and fall away from the blade as you cut.
If you want a circular radius use a drill press to make a hole first. Next, use the bandsaw to cut up to the hole.