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

Monday, June 7, 2010

Magical rope trick

The next name plaque I tackled was for Jonathan. He owns a company that builds quality custom homes. Jonathan is excited about ways he can possible use a router (and textures) in these homes. Each time I do a workshop at least one name plaque has to use the 'rope trick'. I never get tired of it. This is a simple extrude function with unlimited possibilities... one being a cool rope. The vectors were simple... some type with a series of oval around the lettering. The rope would follow the center oval.
Once I imported the AI vector file into EnRoute I added an outline around the lettering. I also added another oval offset slightly from the inside one to form the dome in the center. The small weird shape at the bottom is the cross section of the rope. A weave bitmap from my 'TEXTURE MAGIC' collection was used to create the texture. If you look close at the picture below you can see the vectors underneath the bitmap. I sized an positioned it so the weave was even on all sides.
The oval was extruded at a mesh, then positioned on the file before being merged to the relief. The mesh is red in the screen capture.

I created the border around the lettering as a separate file, then modified that relief using an oval to make it domed like the plaque itself. I could then position it using the different views to make sure it rose above the other parts perfectly. Once I was satisfied I then merged it all together. Tool pathing was done with a 3/8 ball nose to rough it out followed by a final pass with a 1/8" bit and an 80" overlap.
Then I sent it to the MultiCam for the magic treatment. In less than an hour the file was done. While the machine worked I was busy once more making another file for the next plaque...