It is hard to believe that it was almost ten 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 of these machines - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Along with the CNC router I discovered the wonderful material called Precision Board and the glues, primers and other companion products they offer. Since then we have gone through many tons of the material using it in most signs and projects we tackle. This journal will chronicle our many adventures both past, present and future. I'll talk from the perspective of someone who pushes these products to the creative limit on a daily basis. I'll be adding to the stories two or three times each week. -dan

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rapid Texture!

A new feature of EnRoute is Rapid Texture. The premise is simple. By using the profile of a large diameter ball nose or V-groove bit and following a series of vector lines large areas of a surface can be routed in a hurry. Typically, depending on the pattern, a 4' x 8' panel can be done in one - two hours. This represents a huge savings in machine time. The pattern possibilities are endless.

On the MultiCam project I knew exactly where I would use this exciting new tool. My plan was to use four different Rapid Textures in four areas of the building. The entry/reception area would be somewhat formal. I used a 3/4" ball nose bit to create vertical lines in the wainscot panels. But I simply had to add just a teeny bit of wiggle to happy them up just a little. We didn't want to be too formal.

The hall way was treated as a transition area. I wanted to hint at what was coming in the board room but not give it away completely. I used the 3/4" ball nose bit once more and also made the lines wavy this time. The pattern resembled ocean waves as seen from an airplane. The trim was accented with the routed linear gear to keep the 'MultiCam theme' going. The 'M' corner blocks on the windows and doors completed the picture.

For the board room there was nothing held back. The texture was created with a 1.5" V-bit and I made the texture go wild. The patterns resemble a wild sea in a storm. We painted the panels a blue pearl and then applied a dark blue glaze followed by a brown glaze with a touch of black cherry metal flake. The glazes make the texture come alive. Rusted trim and a heavily textures 'M' medallion  complete the theme.

Upstairs the bosses office will sport a Jurassic theme. I wanted the panelling to look like it was hewn from flint. The lines were near vertical but they were tweaked to wiggle both vertically and horizontally. By using a 3/4" ball nose bit I achieved the pattern I wanted.  Once again the 'M' medallion was incorporated into the trim.

We ended up routing about 25 4' x 8' sheets of MDF for the entry, hallway and upper office. In the boardroom I encountered chipping with the V-groove bit and so opted to use 30lb Precision Board instead. The heavy HDU routed clean and crisp and at a very high speed with perfect results. I much preferred the results of the 30 lb Precision Board over the MDF. The HDU did not chip (as did the fiber board). Priming it (with Coastal Enterprises high build primer) also required fewer coats. In my view the superior results and time saved offset the extra cost of materials.

This was my first attempt at using EnRoute's Rapid Texture tool. I was more than pleased with the result. You can bet my brain is buzzing with ideas for future projects...