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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Amazing stuff!

It's amazing! I'm not talking about the stuff I create, but rather the tools I get to use. I've met many of the folks who make MultiCam routers. The brilliant fellows who wrote the EnRoute program are good friends of mine. They've done their best to explain how these things work. And yet each time I fire up my CNC router I find myself amazed as it jigs and jogs through Precision Board leaving a perfect part behind each and every time. Today the MultiCam is whittling the last of the sub parts as I type. It runs just fine - I don't need to watch it. It will run all day on various projects while I do other things.

Last night I created the files for the last bits of the submarine. I did it all in EnRoute starting by tracing the shapes over a digital photograph. I did a screen capture of the vectors when I was done.

I used the profile I had created with vectors to revolve to create the shapes on the top hatch and the nose cone. I like to use meshes rather than simply add to a relief as they can be manipulated (which I didn't have to do this time) 

Once I was happy I created two zero reliefs and merged the meshes to them. These were higher than my 1" substrate but I would simply slice them later. In EnRoute 4 pro it is a simple operation - so simple even I can easily handle it.
To do a project like this I like to build each shape individually and then merge them when I'm happy. The hinge for the rudder was a simple rectangle domed at a 90 degree angle. I then created four zero height rectangles and merged lowest to get rid of the bits I didn't want.

I built each piece, sliced and then arranged the cones then merged them to a large zero height relief. In a few minutes I had all the pieces I needed for the sub. Before I applied the tool paths I checked a top view and the 3D view. Everything looked like it should. Then I sent them to the MultiCam for production. 

Then of course as I kicked the machine in gear I couldn't resist watching for a bit as it did the magic thing.... all without any help from me of course... 

I'm still amazed in Yarrow...