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

Friday, May 13, 2011

Many simple steps combine for a complex file.

One of the things I enjoy about EnRoute is the way I can combine many simple operations to build complex files. It takes experience and the ability to visualize the final result to pull it off, but it isn't that difficult. EnRoute is a powerful program that allows lots of ways to pull off a file like this.

The file I wanted to build is an oval with a ribbon wrapped around the edge. The first job was to build the vectors for the ribbon, along with the borders.

The top loop and bottom loop of the ribbon vectors was then separated with the two oval vectors.

Then I used the ovals to create an upward and downward donut shaped relief. On the upper ones I extruded the top loops of the ribbon 0.75" tall. The lower ribbon was also extruded with the vector shapes at 0.15" tall

Then I created an inside, narrow donut which the ribbon would wrap around.

Once the pieces were built and aligned vertically, horizontally and in height everything was merged together.

Then I built the two ring reliefs that would frame the ribbon. A wider domed oval relief was created to be the base for the ribbon weave and other elements. While I was at it i created the dome relief for the center. Everything was still separate elements so I could float them vertically as needed.

I was happy with the look of all the elements together but now it was time for the texture and the letting.

I imported one of the bitmap textures from my TEXTURE MAGIC collection, resized it and centered it on the oval. I assigned a height of 0.15" and then applied the texture.

Then I built a flat relief of the lettering outline. This was modified using an oval vector to match the profile of the textured oval background. 

Then I used the bevel tool to create the lettering. This will be one of the next name plaques to the September Sign Magic Workshop. Everything was looking pretty good at this point. I had created a zero height background to merge everything to. This completed the plaque and made it ready for tool pathing and routing.

As you can see, the steps are many on this file, but there are some pretty cool effects can be achieved by going down a road like this. The secret is to start simple and build your knowledge and experience. As I move towards routing with the new fourth axis router it is these kinds of moves necessary to do some amazing things. I look forward to sharing those kind of exciting things with you in the future. 

Stay tuned...