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

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

From design to assembly in one day

As always the project started in my sketch book and quickly went to EnRoute. The file was first built as a vector file. Some bits of the initial design was done in Illustrator - specifically the lettering. I then imported this work into EnRoute and brought everything up to scale. For this project I was to route the sign in 8 layers - four for each side of the sign. Building the sign in this fashion would give me the double sided 3D sign I wanted while minimizing the hand carving I would need to do. The top two drawings below are the center sections with the basic mountain cut out layers. EnRoute made things easy. I also scaled the motorcycle and bracket vectors to the right scale. I printed these out then used the prints as a pattern for my plasma cut steel shapes. The lettering on the scroll piece was created as a bevelled incise file. The oval was a full blown 3D file with textures.
Each file was routed twice. The Vedder Mountain portion and the scroll were routed fro 1.5" 30 lb Precision Board. The balance of the files were routed from 1" material.
After the files had been routed I pressure washed them to get rid of all the dust, then set about fabricating the bracket and internal framework for the sign. I laid everything out marked it and then cut a groove in the two center boards to accommodate the framework. This was glued and clamped before the next step.
While things set up I welded up the sign post and cut the bracket pieces. While it would have been nice to use a CNC plasma cutter I had no trouble making the pieces by hand.
The center two sections of the sign were lifted into place and welded up permanently before I started final assembly of the project.
Things were progressing quickly. I have less than a day invested in the project so far - including design and machine time. In the next installment I'll be adding the other layers and begin hand carving at last.
Stay tuned...