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, January 14, 2012

Quilted balloon on 4 axis router

On Friday it was time to put our first real project on the four axis MultiCam and give it a whirl. IT would be the hot air balloon. We would cut it from a large block of 30 lb Precision Board measuring 14" x 14" x 20 " long. We had previously drilled a hole in the center of each end and driven in a pipe. This would be our clamping point for the lathe. The routing operation would be in three phases. The first was the true lathe mode. Here we would assign a steady feed rate for the y axis. The z feed would be done in three passes as a straight line across the piece each time.  The second operation was the roughing done in four passes. This was done with a half inch ball nose bit with a 50% overlap. The final operation was the cleanup pass done with a 3/8" ball nose bit and a 95% overlap. A higher than typical overlap was necessary because the piece had a big diameter and the degree of rotation meant a greater distance corresponding to the distance from the centerline. Here's a short video showing the various passes...

As soon as the piece was done I removed the steel pipes, drilled a hole and mounted it to the driver's cab. It was looking pretty close to my illustration already.

in the next installment we'll be designing and routing the nose and tail cones for the balloon to finish off the sculpting process. Then it is off to the paint department. Stay tuned...