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 28, 2010

A quickie

Last week we got a little sign that most likely was pretty typical for most shops. I should really have passed on the project as we were slammed getting ready for an upcoming trade show as well as our regular work already in progress. Our client needed a sign in only four days for a retirement present for a colleague. The budget was adequate for the size they needed. He was the go-to-guy but needed approval of everyone who was contributing. It could have been a committee nightmare but they were in a hurry and he promised to make my job easy. I stressed the need for instant approvals if we were to meet his deadline. I whipped up the artwork and emailed it to him within the hour. They approved it as is - with the exception of two punctuation corrections... no big deal.
Since I had created the vectors for the proposal my design work was almost done. I imported the vectors into EnRoute, created two more apostrophes and adjusted things as needed. Then I created the reliefs for the two background pieces and lettering as separate elements. I added textures using two examples from my bitmap collection, then 'floated' everything into place so it would fit onto a 1" thick Precision Board HDU. Then I merged everything together and tool pathed the file using a 3/8" bit to rough cut and a 1/8" ball nose bit for a final pass. The back side (second piece) was fully textured but without lettering.
The two center pieces were simple cutouts. While the MultiCam worked I welded up a simple steel framework with two eye bolts for hanging the sign.
I marked the pieces by tracing the welded steel and then cut a groove in the back of the center pieces to accept this steel frame.
Once the glue was dry it was time to work some magic.
I'll be posting the finishing steps the next time...