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

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rivet me an 'a'

The Sign Magic Workshop is now just over two weeks away. This means the MultiCam is going full blast carving out small sample pieces. With the Sculpture Magic Workshop following a week later we need lots of samples for everyone to practice their dimensional painting skills on. This time I decided to redo all of the letter files, making them just a little larger and changing things up a little.

The first sample was the letter a on a 'riveted plate' panel. This panel used a variety of techniques to build and is a fun one to paint for the students. If you are following along and look close you will see I made a mistake on how the bottom two plates overlap. I had to back up a little and move the bottom rivet to the left and make the bottom left plate be on top of the one on the bottom right.

The entire file was created in EnRoute. The plate vectors were originally perfectly square but with the handy new distort tool (EnRoute 5) this was taken care of in a jiffy.

Then I added an outline around the letter 'a'.

Each plate was treated as a separate relief - all the same height.

To bend the plates up a little and allow them to overlap I had previously created a bitmap called 'uneven blend' It's on the TEXTURE MAGIC COLLECTION

 This was applied to each individual plate in sequence.

The plates were then nudged up or down as necessary in the front view using the up/down keys.

Once the plates were right I applied the SPLOTCHES bitmap to give a weathered and pitted texture to the plates.

Next up were the rivets... a simple process using the done tool.

The lettering outline was then created as a simple flat relief. I then went to the front view and nudged it upwards into position.

 I combined the reliefs by selecting the plate reliefs and then hitting the combine function. The lettering outline was then MERGED HIGHEST.

The letter 'a' was then added to the relief by modifying the new combined relief. It was at this point I realized that I had made a mistake in the relative elevation of the angled plates.

This is where the undo comes in handy. I backed things up to where the plates were separate and adjusted the heights in the front view.

 Then I redid the steps covered above to finish the piece.

 I was going to tool path and route the panels four at a time so I created a zero height relief and then merged the relief (and copies) to it.

The file was now ready to tool path and send off to the MultiCam. It would be machined from 1" thick 30 lb Precision Board.

 I'll be going through two of the other samples we created as well. Stay tuned...