When I lent my services to a collegue who was working on a film about 12 years ago, I was introduced to the world of cnc. I remember watching this huge machining centre milling out a slab of mdf and turning it into a fantastic set of gears. I knew that it would have taken me hours to achieve the same thing with traditional power tools. I decided then that I would invest in a cnc router for my own business Oxenham Design. At that time I could turn on a computer, but even to check email seemed like a crazy set of operations. I persevered and learned every piece of relevant software I could get my hands on. I am now fortunate enough to be using Vectric's ASPIRE software, and Techno cnc routers, which has helped us to create some amazing projects, both in part, or in full. I thought that this blog would be a great place to share "behind the scenes" adventures with the software, materials and equipment we use, as well as the projects we build.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Greek Gods, Vectric, and my sweet, sweet Techno cnc router

Sometimes things go really quickly! As the Techno cnc was running the 3 reliefs for the Mythraic stone sculpture, I was quickly drawing up the top and bottom moldings that wrap the sculpture. This again was done completely in our Aspire software. It was a pretty simple task for sure. I opened the reference picture and traced the left and right molding profiles. As the reference image was taken at an angle, perspective comes into play, making one side of the molding smaller than the other. After tracing the left and right sides, I morphed them into an average size and went with that. Off to the 2 rail sweep tool for the next part. Having the cross section now, I just needed to "sweep" it along 2 straight vectors. Done. Next I used the same profile to cut the ends, this eliminates the need to mitre the corners. So essentially the front and back molding have the profile on each end, and the side moldings are just cut square, and fit right in between.

Our Techno cnc did a great job at efficiently cutting all the pieces. To mill all 3 reliefs 21"X31"  (at an incredibly small 6% step-over) and mill all 8 moldings, the time was just under 7 hours. The relief has a lot of vertical edges in it, so this can exponentially slow the machine down. This is due to the X and Y axis having to completely stop and wait for the Z axis (the up and down movement) to get to the height it needs to, before continuing on its way. It's like trying to get to 100 km/hr in you driveway! This being said, I couldn't do it by hand in that time. AND I can do other things while the machine is running. Like stare at it in amazement most of the time!

By the end of the day, I had all the parts cut and glued together. I'll let the glue set up overnight tonight, and start with the coating tomorrow. While I am busy with the coating process, the Techno cnc will be machining the 2 small head sculptures that adorn the left and right sides at the top. I will probably cut these from 15lb HDU foam, as they need to have some detail to them, and I don't really want to coat them with Durabond.


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