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, July 22, 2013

To Hells' Gate and back

Today my grand daughter and I visited Hell's Gate Airtram, an attraction we built a large piece for many years ago. As we visited it brought back many memories.

Almost eight years ago now we bought our first MultiCam Router. I remember well the overwhelming feeling of complexity of both EnRoute and the whole idea of operating such a complicated piece of machinery. It was daunting to say the least.

I'm not at all gifted in computers or programs and in fact quite the opposite. But I was determined I could do this thing. I spent the first three months of owning our MultiCam just making samples and learning the ins and outs of EnRoute. To this point I didn't know what a vector was, had never operated a computer controlled machine of any type and had always done things by hand - with the help of a large crew. Luckily I had the help and support of some great people including our MultiCam dealer and the folks at EnRoute. In our shop I had the help of Phoenix Bermudez, my son-in-law.  He knew computers backwards and forwards and he was in charge of running the machine. I sat in my studio and banged away at the computer, doing my best to figure out the program and how to build three dimensional files. The only thing I really knew is what I was trying to achieve and not how to get there.

We started small with plenty of samples. Along the way we made plenty of mistakes and filled the dumpster with plenty of scraps. Eventually we were ready for our fist paying project. It was the proscenium for Hell's Gate Airtram. We would rely on many of our past skills for the project as well as incorporate the new ones. I welded up a large structural frame and Phoenix sculpted some very fine looking rock work. The piece was so large it had to be built in three sections and wasn't assembled until we got it onsite. We would rely on the MultiCam CNC router for the main lettering and the tram itself, both made from 30 lb Precision Board.

It's not often we use vinyl in our shop but occasionally there is the need.

Each piece was large and barely cleared the doors of our shop

The sign was transported without a scratch and fit perfectly onsite.

I love it when a plan comes together! What a great adventure it has been!