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, March 31, 2011


'Blue sky' is a term in the theme park world that defines ideas and concepts that are brand new, still very much in the development and exploratory stage. Anything is possible at this early level. It is all about the ideas and what might be. It's a fun period for any project. 

Five and a half years ago we made the plunge into the CNC routing world with a MultiCam 3000 series router. It was quite the leap of faith and it has been an incredible adventure! I've enjoyed it immensely. The range of projects we were able to do with this machine and EnRoute software has amazed even me and I had high expectations. The machine and software continues to perform well to this day. But over the last while, with the advances in technology, both machines and software, it is time to take a step forward. We've been looking hard at all the options and have decided to jump to the next level of CNC routers.

After much discussion with the MultiCam folks we have spec'd out a new router for our shop. Our old 4' x 8' MultiCam 3000 series proved to be perfect for our needs in the last five years. We don't want to change a lot but only wanted to add the fourth axis to the mix. Sadly, it was not a viable option on the old machine. So we will upgrade to a whole new machine! The picture below is of a similarly equipped plasma cutter with the rotary attachment. It has an extended gantry to allow the spindle to access the rotary bed. Our new router will be similar to this layout.

When we purchased our first router I had no clear idea of what we would do with the machine but I knew it would be an exciting journey. With the new four axis MultiCam the expectations are very similar. Only this time we will not be starting from scratch. I know what a MultiCam router and the software are capable of and now we will take that into a whole new dimension!

As we wait for the delivery of our new machine my mind of course begins to race ahead, thinking of what we will be able to do. As with the first machine my plan is to first do a variety of samples and experiments to see what is possible and to struggle through the inevitable learning curve. I am not going to schedule customer's work on the machine until I am comfortable with the process. It's the same tack we took with the first machine and I believe it allowed us to go further, faster than if we tried to straight into production with the new found technology.

Happily we will be working with the folks at EnRoute to both develop and fine tune the fourth axis capabilities. I have a big shopping list of things I would like to be able to do in the future and I have no doubt it will all be possible. This is going to be exciting!

As I lay awake dreaming of the new router I pondered what the first project should be. I decided an airship was just the ticket to some fun! Most than twenty years ago I built a model of an air ship using a lathe which was the most modern tool I had at the time. It turned out good but was very stiff looking to say the least. But there were some good ideas there.

That early model inspired a large as life project at Professor WEM's Adventure Golf at West Edmonton Mall a decade later. Amazingly it was constructed of sculpted fiberglass-reinforced-concrete over a welded steel frame, making it the heaviest lighter than air craft ever assembled. It still stands there today.

Back in 2002 we seriously considered expanding Giggle Ridge Adventure Golf www.giggleridge.com and as part of that plan we were going to do a railroad which circled a small mountain. Our house and studio would have been hidden inside the mountain. On one side of the mountain a hot air balloon was to have been tethered in a hanger. I built a quick model at the time but never finished it. The model was only used to help me with the perspective for the concept drawings for the plans.

So as I lay awake last night I knew exactly what the first project that would be done on the four axis machine...   This morning I dug through my archives and found the drawing I was looking for. Over the next time, while I am waiting for the manufacture and delivery of the new MultiCam machine I'll be working on the modifications, plans and files. It is BLUE SKY TIME!

This is going to be more fun than ever!