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, March 28, 2011

It was a dark and stormy Knight

The knight sign has been a little neglected while I finished off the truck signs, but today I delivered them, much to the delight of our customer. It looks like many more fun little trucks are in our future. But now it's time to get serious about the knight at last. 

I've been pondering just how I was going to build the knight. After the success of the trucks I decided I would mold them with sculpting epoxy once more... or rather construct his armor that way. The knight I would so on the MultiCam. I didn't need anything too fancy, but rather a quick and dirty body shape. I only needed the torso, head, legs and top of his arms. The rest I would model with the sculpt. Some would argue that a CNC router was not necessary for something so basic, but with the machine routing the basic shape the basic proportions it would be so much faster than doing it by hand. The chances of getting both knights the same size and shape was guaranteed this way too.

I clipped down the sign illustration and brought it into EnRoute, then used it as a pattern to create the vectors I needed. Nothing fancy or difficult here. Remember to keep the knight (or any figure you are doing) a little on the skinny side as you need to allow a little room for the skin of sculpt over the armature.

Then I used the dome relief tool set at 90 degrees to form the head, arms , legs and feet. 

The body was also done with the dome relief tool but set at only 75 degrees. I tried 90 degrees but it made it too tall. He was looking like half a man already with just a few clicks. The stiffness was appropriate for a suit of armor.

I created a zero height relief and used the merge lowest tool to clip the bottom of the spheres I had created for his feet. This made them flat in an instant.

Then I created an offset around each piece and combined the vectors. I used this shape to create a zero height relief and merged the body shape to it. Then I duplicated the body and flipped it to form the back side of the figure. This was fit inside a 2.5" board.

Then it was time to tool path the piece and send it to the router. Since it was going to only be a form over which I would sculpt the figure I didn't need detail or smoothness. I opted to route it with a 3/8" ball nose bit and a 75% overlap. Speed was more important than finish. 

In less time than it took me to write this post I had created the files, routed and glued up the basic form for the knight. This is the beauty of EnRoute software and my MultiCam. It did the hard work once more, leaving me time to do the fun and fancy stuff. You have to love that!

Tomorrow afternoon we'll put some armor on this dude. Stay tuned...