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, May 7, 2017

Cultus Lake Boardwalk signs - part 1

We've done a lot of work for Cultus Lake Adventure park and we've built up a trust through the years. This meant that no concept drawing was required. We simply described the concept to them and a budget. Our client said GO!

The design would feature a cut out of five of the rides in the park. This would be cut from 1/8" thick steel plate to form a topper for the sign. The sign itself would match a bunch of the other signs we did for them in years past.

I did the drawing of the rides in Photoshop as a simple black and white, keeping in mind that it would be plasma cut from steel plate. I nested the rides so they read well but were still interlocked to be stronger.

This bitmap drawing was imported into EnRoute. It vectorized the drawing in a fraction of a second. The vector file was good enough to use without modification.  The rest of the vector file was built in EnRoute. The sign would be routed from three layers of 30 lb Precision Board. The front face was cut from 1.5" thick HDU. The middle section would be half inch thick Precision Board with some wide slots cut into it to accept the blades of the plasma cut steel topper. The back would be routed from 1" thick board. The topper steel had large tabs which would provide the structural steel for the sign. We would weld steel tubing off these tabs to create a mounting bracket for the sign.

I first created a flat relief in the shape of the sign. 

I then imported one f the woodgrain bitmaps ( http://www.imaginationcorporation.com/textures/ ) I selected the flat relief, the border of the outer relief and a outside vector. The outside vector reversed the area to be wood grained making it happen outside the lettering area. I applied a value of .25" to the bitmap which made for a dramatic effect.

I decided to build the lettering and borders as a separate relief although I could have instead modified the board relief. I started with the outside boarder as the base relief, then raised each successive layer. 

Then I raised the layers themselves.

The last step was to indent the insides of the letters leaving a raised border around the letters. This was done by subtracting from the relief.

I then used the merged highest function to combine the two reliefs.

I then created the bottom long rounded panel as a separate relief. 

The panel was then combined with the board relief.

The last step for this piece was to add the raised boardwalk lettering.

The back of the sign was created as a separate relief, starting with a flat relief. The vector had first been flipped so the shape matched the front.

I used a different woodgrain for the back.