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

Sunday, April 11, 2010


For the first while after we installed our MultiCam router I was still very much in discovery mode. I was learning the ins and outs of EnRoute trying to figure out just what was possible with this amazing software. I remember one day I was flipping through an old issue of National Geographic and came across a picture of a fish fossil. The photo was pretty cool and it inspired a great idea that simply couldn't wait to be done. I scanned the picture from the magazine into my computer and opened it in Photoshop. I then made it into a black and white image and then set about tweaking and adjusting things to what I knew would work on the router. I bumped up the contrast a bunch, eliminated much of the conflicting background and added in some missing bones. It didn't take long - about ten minutes in total. I then saved it as a bitmap.
I then created a second bitmap using a large speckled brush. It took literally seconds. I called this one spilled Coke. Then in Illustrator I created the vectors I needed to create the medallion panel shape and raised lettering. These were all imported into EnRoute and a relief was created with a slight dome. I then sized and applied the bitmaps one at a time. It only took seconds and involved a few clicks of the mouse. I tool-pathed the shapes, with a rough pass using a 3'8" ball nose bit and a final pass using a 1/8" ball nose but and a 80% overlap. I threw a 1" piece of Precision Board on the MultiCam and set the machine in motion.
In less than an hour the file was done. I had been busy doing other things, except when I simply couldn't resist sneaking into the router room to check on the MAGIC that was happening there. I whipped on a coat of grey acrylic paint and set the piece under our shop fan while I mixed up a dark glaze. The panel was dry enough to then cover it with the glaze and wipe it off with a shop towel. Just like that the panel was done.
In about an hour and a half we had gone from idea to finished product. Previously it would have taken days to accomplish anything similar.
I was suddenly stoked about the wonderful things that were now possible. There were no limits. The MAGIC had begun...