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 14, 2017

Lots of pieces to this puzzle

Designing and then making our creations move is not something we typically do in our shop. This is why I took it on as a challenge for my piece for next year's Sign Invitational. Making display or  portfolio pieces is always where we take the biggest risk instead of on a customer's project.

Yesterday, I took a trip to one of my favourite stores that stocks every manner of bearings, sprockets, fittings, motors, gear reducers and the like. Everything is displayed on shelves. I spent better than an hour wandering the isles seeing what was available. As I looked at the hardware I developed a plan to make my entry move convincingly. I bought a whole bunch of pieces of hardware, and brought it all back to the shop. Then I started designing the next stage of the 'MARVELOUS MACHINE' build. I designed the files for dozens of brackets and other bits and pieces which I then cut on our MultiCam plasma cutter. As the pieces came off the machine I fit and welded up a storm. As I fabricated the parts I often went back to the drawing board to tweak the design and then recut the part. By the time I was done for the day, the electric motor and gear reducer were securely mounted inside the firebox. A camshaft and vertical steam cylinder were also mounted to the steam dome on top of the boiler as well.

This is of course only the basic design. Think of this (so far) as the first layer of a cake without any fancy icing. A whole lot of eye candy is yet to be added.