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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A desk of a different kind.

For the upstairs office it was time to go way back into history. This room would showcase the Plasma Cutter as well as the CNC router. All the files would be created using EnRoute software including their just released plasma cut software. I located a plastic T-rex model kit online and then downloaded the detailed instructions. Those instructional photos gave me the information I needed to build the files for the individual bones. There were a bunch!  I knew the height of the desk and simply scaled everything up to that size. Amazingly they nested on one sheet of 4' x 8' x 1/2" thick steel. The plasma cutting file was generated using the brand new EnRoute Fab software. Since I don't have a plasma cutter nor the new software, Jeff Hartman was kind enough to generate the files for me.

To present the concept to my client I used the component file of the pieces to create this drawing. It was all that was required to sell the project. From here on in we would wing it, designing as I built.

The steel was cut using a factory fresh CNC plasma cutter, still on the showroom floor. I watched in amazement as it sliced through the heavy steel like butter. As the machine cut I removed the pieces, wearing gloves of course for they were very warm.

I ended up with 312 pounds of dinosaur pieces. They filled the trunk of my small rental car pretty good and weighed it down in a significant fashion. I made it home safely with the dino tucked away in the back.

Since it had been better than a year since I had designed the dino desk, I wondered if I would remember how it was supposed to go together. It was quite the pile of parts! But after I had sorted them and arranged them in order of size it came back to me how it was supposed to go back together. I printed out the plastic kit directions but ended up not using them. By the time the thirty five pages of instructions came off the printer I had the dino well in hand.

I went through my scrap bin and found a 1" steel rod that was the perfect length. I put it though our hydraulic press to bend it to the right shape. Then I arranged the plasma cut parts over the rod and began the welding. The easiest way to align the parts was to build the dino flat on his back.

Once the rib cage and tail of the T-rex were welded up I used the hoist and chain to lift it into position. An adjustable  stand at each end held things steady while I did my measurements and lined things up. From here on in I would weld up the various smaller assemblies on the work bench and then fasten them to the large piece. It came together pretty quick!

There is still a little grinding to do and I have to figure out and source a way to fasten the glass plate to the top but it is pretty much together in only a couple of hours. It's a desk like no other! The desk will dramatically display the awesome cutting abilities of the MultiCam plasma cutter using EnRoute software.

Once again I had pushed the boundaries of our experience. As I worked on the dino desk my mind was racing, thinking of all the things now possible. But first I'll fabricate the matching coffee table...