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

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pedal Power - Part one

The next critter sign is for a peddle buggy business which is a part of the park. I drew up the concept which the owner approved. It was decided to make the sign two sided which means the gear in the skeleton clock need to look good from both sides and the bear will be rotated 90 degrees. The concept sketch was all I needed to go on.

The lettering and basic shape of the sign was done in Illustrator. I then imported the ai file into EnRoute.

Using the drawing tools I created the basic fancy frame to support the gears. I also added the borders and rivets around the outside.

Creating the gears was pretty simple. I first drew a circle, then a rectangle. A second box was drawn as a measuring device for the next step. I centred all of the pieces with each other.

I then used the point edit tool to bend out the sides of the longer rectangle using the smaller box as a guide. There are more accurate ways of doing this procedure but this was plenty good.

 I then used the array tool to space out the pieces at the right angles.

 And finally I combined the vector shapes to create a gear outline.

 The inside spokes used some of the same methods. Creating multiple copies using the array tool I used a value of 180 degrees. This created one extra copy of the rectangle but rather than do the math  tp calculate the angle I needed to start and finish it was simpler to just delete the extra rectangle and then centre all the pieces in relation to each other.

I used the combine tool with another circle (not shown) to create the spokes of the gear.

The smaller gear used similar functions with similar results.

I then positioned the gears and built new mounting points for them - all work done by eyeball.

These shapes were combined to approximate the result I wanted.

To make the routing and assembly easier I joined the small and large gears using a small rectangle before merging the pieces.

Once I had all of the primary vectors built it was time to decide how many layers the clock would take to convincingly build. I decided five would do it. I then separated, duplicated as necessary and then combined the components in each layer to form the vectors I needed to create the routing files. Here's a screen shot of each layer's vectors. I still have to add the vectors to route out the space for the metal frame in the middle sections.

Next time I'll be showing how we create the reliefs and then in subsequent posts I'll show how we assemble and finish this sign. Stay tuned...