It is hard to believe that it was only seven years ago I witnessed a CNC router in action for the very first time. I was fascinated and simply had to have one! Although I had been in the creative end of the three dimensional sign business for most of my life I didn't really know what I would do with one - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Through extensive research I quickly found out that with the relative simplicity of EnRoute, CNC routers were capable of just about anything imaginable. This journal will chronicle that journey to date and continue each week with two or three entries as we continue to explore just what is possible with this wonderful software... -dan

Friday, March 19, 2010

Welcome to the 3D world of routing!

Welcome to my routing adventures with EnRoute! It's hard to believe that it was only a little more than four years ago I started on this journey. The first time I even saw a CNC router was at a trade show a few months previous. I knew I needed one in an instant but I didn't know exactly what I could do with it at the time. I searched high and low, made countless phone calls to sign folks across North America but I could find no one who was doing the type of 3D textured work I wanted to do. The routers were capable and so was the software but I was on my own in figuring out just how it would come to be.

When the MultiCam techs set up the machine they showed me how to operate it. It looked daunting but thankfully they left a set of detailed instructions in how to turn it on, warm it up and put it through basic maneuvers. I had the EnRoute manual as well to guide me. But I'm not very good at manuals. At that point I was green for I had never even worked with vector files previously. I was in for the learning curve of my life!

We had no paying work scheduled for the machine. I wasn't about to put a customer's job on the table until I could make the machine do what I wanted. I decided to start with the letter 'a'. With the manual open and me painfully reading, then trying each step, I built the files, we'd put a piece of pink insulation foam on the router and we'd give it a go. We filled our garbage bin with failed experiments. Eventually, once we got some experience and successes with the inexpensive foam insulation we put on some Precision Board HDU and routed our very first sample pieces. I built a 'B', 'C', 'D' and then did the entire alphabet, each different, each with a different texture. While we were at it we experimented with different paints and patinas. This was to be a learning exercise in every way possible and learn we did!

It took almost 3 months of experimentation in our spare time to get confident enough to put a paying project on the machine. By then we knew anything we could imagine was possible - if we took the time to figure it out. We were on our way in our journey and we were traveling at light speed!

Stay tuned for more...