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

Thursday, June 27, 2013

More fishing adventure

Every submarine needs a dock and the Mechanical fish sub is no different. In fact this dock will be as imaginative as the fish itself.

The mechanical fish and dock use just about every trick in the book. As always, the vectors were first. Everything except the letters were created in EnRoute. I could have done the lettering in EnRoute as well but I've gotten used to doing it in Illustrator.

ALthough the file wasn't overly complex it did make me scratch my head a little as I worked it all out. The sign required that I routed it in six layers.There will be a fair amount of hand sculpting to finish things off. The layer for the lettering was first as everything else would relate to it. The lettering would be carved into the face while the rivets would be raised. The two pillars will feature hand made stone work. The first task was to build the vectors for each layer.

I created an offset to the base vector and first made a zero height relief from this new vector.

Then I started creating the submarine dock. I modified the relief by adding a half inch thick flat section.

 Then I raised the center section and kept the lettering sunken.

I also dropped the two portions under the lettering the same amount.

The columns which will eventually be stonework were created as separately and then merged highest with the base relief.

The rivets were domed up with a base of 0.1" This makes a pretty tall rivet at this scale but they will look great when I paint up this piece. This made the first layer ready for tool pathing and routing.

To maximise use of material I tucked the center door into the open space in the middle of the oval. The MultiCam made one rough pass with a 3/8" ball nose bit and a 50% overlap. then a final pass with a 1/8" ball nose bit.

The next file to get created was the bak piece which featured a deep textured dish in the middle. To create the dome I used the oval vector and the doming tool with a negative value. Then I added the SLOTCHES bitmap from the TEXTURE MAGIC Collection I used a value of 0.2" wish generated a good sized texture. I enlarged the bitmap so it was deep but subtle.

I had previously created an oval with a cutout by using the jigsaw tool. I created a zero height relief using this vector. Then I used it as the base relief and MERGED HIGHEST with the dished relief I had just created. This gave me the shape I needed for the piece.

I also created two middle layers to accommodate the hidden LED lighting modules. Two more upper layers were also added to the stone posts and one final layer to the bottom as well, totalling six layers. An oversize base is also in the works to finish things off.

Now the assembly, sculpting and painting can start at last. This is going to be fun!

We are still waiting for some indication from Jamie that he has even started (although he talking very big talk) He sent a picture of himself on Barney (his jet ski) most likely desperately looking for inspiration in the lake beside his house.

Doug has posted one sketch of what he says 'is an image that expresses his plan for Dan". 

Noella Cotnam, a talented and award winning sign maker from Ontario has joined our little fishing expedition. She has posted an image that shows promise... 

At this rate Noella is going to beat the two big talking boys without hardly even a scrap.

Well...  I guess I had better go do a little more work on the piece. The end of summer is coming fast.