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.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Pop ins are always welcome!

Today seemed to become "pop-in" day at the shop. This was a nice change for me. One of the visitors was a friend I met through doing some design work awhile ago. Bryan owns Tools Wood in Thunder Bay, and as he was in Toronto, he decided to swing up with Nick from General Tools. It was a very nice visit, that's for sure.
Between visits though, I got some work done on our theme sign. The styrofoam water got its final shape and sanding, and I started on one of the rocks.
I also was able to machine the lower beaks for all 4 seagulls.
Usually when I 3d model in Hexagon, I build the pieces and stick them where they need to go. Hexagon has no collision detection, which means shapes can pass freely through each other like ghosts. So in order for the lower beak to fit perfectly, I have to boolean the beak out. Basically this trims the geometry out by the piece that overlaps it, just like a vector trim option in Corel Draw, but in 3d. Long story short: I used the top beak, and neck of the seagull to trim the lower beak to fit exactly.
As the lower beak is a small piece already, I didn't want to slice each one and glue them together. This means Cut 3D. I really dig this piece of software. I could do it in Aspire, but Cut 3D makes it so automated, it's sick!
I did pre set-up the file in Hexagon though. I laid all four parts out on the exact same plane, then added a tube down the middle of them all that will act as a tab to help hold them together during machining. Notice that the tube doesn't stick out at the ends. Otherwise Cut3D would think it was part of the model, and want to cut around it, making it difficult to machine.  I find it also helps to quickly draw a cutter the equivalent of what I will actually be using. In this case, a 1/4" ball-nose. This helps insure that the pieces are spaced apart enough to allow for full cutter travel around all the parts. If they weren't spaced apart enough, I would have to re-open Hexagon and adjust the parts, then re-import into Cut 3D.
 The rest of the tabs were interactively added in cut 3d, and very quickly I might add!
 They came out quite well I think. Our Techno cnc made short work of the material. I probably could have done other things while it cut, but I find it mesmerizing to watch it work it's magic.
And on top of that, they fit like a well designed model kit!
I probably won't be able to get to work on this over the weekend, as I have a cartoon hippo to model for a client. The good news is that the hippo already exists, and we have him already, but he's only 3" tall. I am going to photograph him from different angles, and model from the images in Hexagon.
Should be fun!

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