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.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Amnesty International

This week we are onto physical jobs. I must say, I really enjoy both sides of the work we do. I got to do a ton of 3d modelling last week, a couple of models were for a sign company in Indiana for use in their Aspire software, and the other modelling was for some theme park characters. With that out of the way, we are onto fabricating physical stuff now. One rather large job on the go is fabricating 4'X8' modular wall panels that will fit together in a "tab and slot" fashion. Although their isn't a lot of creativity involved, it still requires some engineering on our part, especially as we will never put it all together. The client will do this part, very, very, far from here!

The other job is a lot of fun though. It's for Amnesty International. They have a "Just One More Candle" ad campaign going on. They require a smooth, heavily worn, wood table surface with an AK-47 on it. The cool part is that the whole gun needs to be covered in wax, encapsulated to the table. The only part that has no wax on it is the trigger area. It makes sense to me that "just one more candle" would have rendered the gun useless in the hands of children soldiers. Due to the time line, we decided to go with an AIRSOFT rifle. It looks authentic, and I could get it next day.
 So the first order was to get the table surface rocking! I decided to go with pine as it has great character once it gets stained. I drew up the board dimensions in Aspire, and pulled the bitmap trick again. I imported some images of wood-grain into the software, and quickly converted that to a 3d surface. Once I had the geometry, I needed to smooth it considerably. I applied the smoothing filer at maximum. Next I just stretched the model to fit my board dimensions and tool-pathed it right from there. I just re-stretched it, changing the look of the relief for the other 3 boards. Then for my favorite part, firing up our Techno cnc! It really is a pleasure to use our Techno. The interface is so well laid out,  and the process from pre-processing the tool-path file to a finished piece is SO easy. I had done an extremely tight toolpath step-over of .020" with a 1/2" cutter to avoid any sanding, and as I was busy on the wall-panels with Mike, the extra time on the Techno didn't matter much. It took it 48 minutes to machine a 12"X 70" board with my wood-grain relief. Not bad for the step-over I chose! The boards however, did need some sanding as the pine decided to get furry in some spots. Way less sanding than the hull section we did a while ago though.

They wanted the wood finished in a fairly dark stain, as the image needs to vignette to black. I mixed a great browny-blackish colour, and went to town. After the stain had set up for a bit, I put on a good wet coat of polyurethane. I will tweak the surface finish tomorrow and start on waxing down the gun to the surface.


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