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 14, 2010

Making the sign 3D

I selected the diamond shaped vectors first and then used the bevel tool at about 11 degrees with a .3" vertical edge to create the reliefs. I knew they couldn't be taller than 0.8" I added a subtle texture using a bitmap from my Texture Magic collection called 'SPLOTCHES 1' this was created to a depth of 0.1"
The next step was the ring with the degree notches around the perimeter. Its a simple flat 1" thick relief. Then I selected this and the little box vectors and subtracted the notches by creating a negative relief. O then created an offset vector around all the pieces and merged them. This was made into a o.0" thickness relief. Then I selected all of the reliefs and merged highest. I tool-pathed the file using a 3/8" ball nose bit with a 90% overlap. It was machined in a single pass.
Since this sign would be two sided I needed to build each side and then flip it to make the other side. Because I built the files somewhat in a freehand way I couldn't simply route two copies and then expect them to fit together.
Next up was the ring with the name of the business. This was done by creating a simple domed file, then adding the same splotches bitmap for the textures. The writing and stars were beveled at 21 degrees with a 1.5" shoulder. Since this was perfectly round I could route two identical copies - one for each side. The tool-pathing was done in two passes. A rough pass was done with a 0.1" offset with a 3/8" ball nose bit at a 50% overlap. Then a single final pass was done with a 1/8" ball nose with a 80% overlap.
All four pieces were to be routed from 1" thick 30 lb Precision Board. Next entry I'll be showing how we assembled the pieces...