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, September 10, 2012

Laying down tracks

Today was a busy day but I couldn't resist working just a little on the Lucky Jim Mine sign. The MultiCam was busy routing exterior moldings for the house but as each file finished I snuck in the railroad wheels and tracks on what would have been scrap. I actually ran the wheels twice as the first time they were simply too big for the sign I was building.

I also built the file for the track. It was a quicky.

The vectors were simple. Two parallel rails would form the bent track. The other vector required was the profile of half of a cross section of a train rail. I used the sweep two rails command, and followed the prompts

When it performs the task it shows black until I hit the render button. Meshes show up red. Meshes cannot be tool pathed. We first have to convert them to reliefs.

In order to do this I first created a zero height relief. using my outline vector.

The rail mesh needs to be positioned correctly in the vertical space as I would be adding this volume to the flat, zero height relief. I did this in the front view with the up/down keys.

 Then I selected both the relief and mesh to light up the mesh/relief merge button. In this case I could have used either the add to relief of merge highest.

When I render after merging the mesh and relief it comes out as splotchy red/yellow. I can then move/delete the mesh.

I duplicated the relief and flipped a copy for each rail to create the two halves of the rail. I tool pathed it using a 3/8" ball nose bit with a 90% overlap. This would give me the rounded inside corners I wanted.

I used a five minute epoxy to glue the two halves together.

I used my trusty air-powered die grinder to whip up some railroad ties. This thing is coming together in a hurry... the hard part is done. 

Stay tuned as more parts come together...