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 4, 2011

Education comes with a price.

Learning is best done by doing. And doing things that are new means we make mistakes. Since I am always pushing so hard I make LOTS of mistakes. And each time I learn something new. 

When I first started I filled our giant commercial dumpster on a regular basis with projects that didn't go as planned.. These days it happens less often. EnRoute is best used by taking things methodically, double checking things often and doing a little math on complex files. All these things are not my forte, but each mistake reinforced hard learned lessons. Each mistake makes me better.

Because many of my files are built in segments and then combined and merged as a last step I need to check the depths and thicknesses constantly. This is done in the front and side views without the render turned on. Occasionally something will sneak by or I get going on things in the wrong order. Even though it looks good in the render the reality is sometimes different when the file is actually on the machine. Thats when I get my next lesson in a hurry.

The Master's Bugle Beer sign for the Fox and Hounds Pub looked great as I built the file. When I put it on the machine the first rough pass looked great. Three of the four pieces routed perfectly as I had imagined them. The fourth and largest section was a different story. I had forgotten to double check the front view with the render off so I could see where the bottom was and how much material remained. On the router it routed right down to the spoil board.

I seriously considered designing and routing a patch, making the sign a little thicker. It wouldn't have been that difficult. But it was late, and I was tired. I decided to simply adjust the file and route a whole new piece. Today I rebuilt the file and set the MultiCam in gear once more. And got it right this go around.

Experience is a great teacher!