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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Critter sign number 1

We finally finished enough large pieces to remove them from the shop to make the way clear to take out our broken screw compressor. I loaded it into the truck and took it into the neighboring town for repair. They called me a few days later saying it was as good as new. I picked it up and plugged it in. I decided I would give it a couple of days running time to make sure everything was good before I ran a big file on the router. I didn't want to risk it breaking down in the middle of a file. The sad news is the compressor only ran four hours before stopping once more. While the repair guys may have gotten the compressor running again they didn't fix the source problem. So back into the truck it went but it didn't go back to that repair shop. They won't see me ever again. Instead I took it to a different shop, one I trusted to make a permanent repair.

So the stack of prepared routing files continues to mount.

Todays build is the first in a series of very fun signs. They serve no other purpose other than decoration - eye candy. The signs will go in the theme park project on the Western building facade above the porch roof.

Like in the rest of the park the signs will feature critters of all kinds. The first is for the center facade. The armadillo will be hand sculpted in a slightly cartoon style.

I created the vectors in Illustrator and imported them into EnRoute.

The sign background would be created as a series of layers with dimensional beveled lettering. The first step was to create a flat relief.

The base relief was then modified by adding a second layer which would act as a letter outline.

Then I selected the next smaller letter border and modified the base relief again.

The curlycues was the next modification to the base relief. I used the bevel tool with a 0.2 base.

The lettering was the last item to add. I wanted the bevel the edges of the letters but keep the top flat. To do this I again created a 0.2" vertical edge by adding a base to the letters. I used the limit to height function to create a flat top on the letters. The bevel was created at 45 degrees.

 The file was now ready for tool pathing.

Hopefully the old compressor is fixed by the end of the week. The new one is also due any day so hopefully we are routing again soon.