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, January 30, 2014

Building the Summit routing file

The next sign to be built for the Cultus Lake Adventure Park is the Summit Trading post.  Since we elevated the ground by eight feet and the trading post in on top of the hill (and inside the mountain) SUMMIT was the perfect name. It will feature a small copy of the mountain peak. The sign will be double sided with a fully dimensional sculpt inside.

As always we start with the vectors, this time done in Illustrator as I am familiar with the way the type is edited along the curve. This vector file was imputed into EnRoute and then enlarged to be the correct size.

M first step was to put an outline which we would use to create a raised border a little further along.

Then I imported the driftwood bitmap from the ROUTER MAGIC collection. I sized the bitmap, centered it and then traced a vector outline.

Then I created a flat relief using this vector.

Next I applied the bitmap to the  relief using a value of 0.3" This means the blacks do nothing, the white raises by 0.3" and the grays do something in-between.

I then used the relief modeling tools to carve in some extra depth into the woodgrain. It took only a few seconds to get the effect I was after.

The oval was the next relief to be created. It was done as a flat relief.

The flat oval border relief was then modified by doming up the center with a raised base to give it a bit of an edge.

 I then copied the files, then flipped one (but not the lettering) This would allow me to glue the two signs back to back and have them match perfectly.

The bottom lettering border was then created as a separate flat relief. (in both copies of the sign. ) I then selected the oval and driftwood reliefs and combined them to form one relief.

I then positioned these new lettering border reliefs and merged them highest with the base reliefs.

Then I modified the base relief by adding the lettering. I used the bevel tool with a base height. This chamfered the corners of the letters perfectly.

Lastly I used the dome tool to modify the base relief using the SUMMIT letter and circle vectors.

As easy as that we had a routing file ready to tool path and send to the MultiCam.

My big compressor packed it in yesterday. It had been acting weird of late and I decided I would get a new one and then rebuild the old as a standby. Luckily I had already placed an order for a new one last week.  It will be a while before the new one arrives so I will have to wait to route these pieces. In the mean time I have plenty of other things to do Stay tuned...