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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

An office desk that is different!

This segment features a plasma cutter and steel as a building material and as such it's not really relevent for this journal. Bit then again it is part of a larger project that will use plenty of Precision Board... so it gets to be here... stay tuned for more parts featuring Coastal Enterprises products...

For the upstairs office it was time to go way back into history. This room would showcase the Plasma Cutter as well as the CNC router. All the files would be created using EnRoute software including their just released plasma cut software. I located a plastic T-rex model kit online and then downloaded the detailed instructions. Those instructional photos gave me the information I needed to build the files for the individual bones. There were a bunch!  I knew the height of the desk and simply scaled everything up to that size. Amazingly they nested on one sheet of 4' x 8' x 1/2" thick steel. The plasma cutting file was generated using the brand new EnRoute Fab software. Since I don't have  plasma cutter nor the new software Jeff Hartman was kind enough to generate the files for me.

To present the concept to my client I used the component file of the pieces to create this drawing. It was all that was required to sell the project. From here on in we would wing it, designing as I built.

The steel was cut using a factory fresh CNC plasma cutter, still on the showroom floor. I watched in amazement as it sliced through the heavy steel like butter. As the machine cut I removed the pieces, wearing gloves of course for they were warm.

I ended up with 312 pounds of dinosaur pieces. They filled the trunk of my small rental car pretty good. and weighed it down in a significant fashion but I made it home safely with the dino tucked away in the back.

Since it had been better than a year since I had designed the dino desk, I wondered if I would remember how it was supposed to go together. It was quite the pile of parts! But after I had sorted them and arranged them in order of size it came back to me how it was supposed to go back together. I printed out the plastic kit directions but ended up not using them.

I went through my scrap bin and found a 1" steel rod that was the perfect length. I put it though our hydraulic press ti bend it to the right shape. Then I arranged the plasma cut parts over the rod and began the welding. The easiest way to align the parts was to build the dino flat on his back.

Once the rib cage and tail of the T-rex were welded up I used the hoist and chain to lift it into position. An adjustable  stand at each end held things steady while I did my measurements and lined things up. From here on in I would weld up the various smaller assemblies on the bench and then fasten them to the large piece. It came together pretty quick!

There is still a little grinding to do and I have to figure out and source a way to fasten the glass plate to the top but it is pretty much together in only a couple of hours. It's a desk like no other! The desk will dramatically display the awesome cutting abilities of the MultiCam plasma cutter using EnRoute software.

Once again I had pushed the boundaries of our experience. As I worked on the dino desk my mind was racing, thinking of all the things now possible. But first I'll fabricate the matching coffee table...