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, January 30, 2012

Game of darts part one, anyone?

We are still working on details at the Fox & Hounds Pub. The to-do list is slowly being whittled down to size. Today I designed and routed a whole load of small signs, NO SMOKING, MECHANICAL ROOM and such. They'll be given the faux copper treatment, so they are there, but don't detract from 'the look' we have worked so hard to achieve.

I also built a couple of complex files and sent them off to the MultiCam. I'll be posting one today and one tomorrow, even though they were combined into one routing file.

The first was a small sign that used some pretty useful EnRoute techniques. It is more complex than anything I would have tackled when I was starting, but broken down into small steps it is manageable. So let's begin with a crown. I first roughed out basic half crown vectors, not worrying about shape or size. We'd tweak things up later.

Then using the vector editing tool I adjusted the nodes and added the curves to the vectors. Once I was happy I duplicated the vector shape, flipped one of the pieces and lined things up before merging.

Then I created the lower and middle rings for the crown starting with simple rectangles and then tweaking them using the vector modification tool. The basis crown relief was created as a zero height relief. The two ribs were dome reliefs with a 0.15" tall vertical edge. I added the wiener shaped oval around the combined reliefs. This would be used to modify the relief.

The result was a crown that bowed outwards real nice! 

Then it was on to the flag background for the sign. First up was the vectors - all done in EnRoute. Other than the overall size of the sign everything was eyeballed, using EnRoute's tools to rotate, center and space things so they looked right. I would resize and slightly distort the lettering as needed later.

 The jigsaw tool was the tool of choice for much of the next operation. I worked my way around the flag creating new vectors from the inside profiles of the combined shapes.

The center cross had to wait until last when all but one of the original vectors was gone. Now we are ready to begin the final work at last.

The crown was moved into position and an outline added. Then the lettering was positioned, resized and stretched a little before adding the outline. Now we could begin building the flag background relief.

A .045 "flat relief was first, then this flat relief was modified with the flag vectors, raising them by 0.15".

I then imported the splotches bitmap from my TEXTURE MAGIC collection. This would add a subtle wavy texture to the colored flag sections of the Union Jack.

I then created separate flat reliefs of the outlines of the lettering and crown. These were raised to clear the flag and textures, then merged highest to create one file.

The last step was to ass the bevelled prismatic lettering.

The file was then ready to tool path and send off to the MultiCam.

Stay tuned for the second half of this project...