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, 28 November 2012

"Small investment, Big return!"

Tonight's post is a short but awesome one!

Techno cnc routers is having a 2012 Holiday Video Contest. YAAAY!

This is the first one of this kind they're doing. Hopefully it wont be the last.

Heres the quote from their website:

Show us your Techno CNC Router in action!  
We want to see what our customers are doing with their routers.
Enter the "Small Investment Big Return" Video Contest by submitting
a short video and you have the chance to win a big return of
$1500.00 in your pocket for the holiday season.

The winners will receive bragging rights and a privileged placement on their Home Page for one month. First place winner will receive $1500.00, second place winner will  receive $500.00, and third place winner will receive $250.00.
This is pretty huge of them to put a contest like this on. I'm pretty pumped to see what other people are making on their Techno. I haven't found any other cnc company promoting their customers in this capacity.
This kind of stuff makes me very proud to promote a company that not only makes great products, but continues to be interested long after the sale!
Great work Techno!


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Monopoly Game over 2

The green monopoly house was next up. We modified it slightly from the files to make it a bit faster to build. The house is actually going to be a lampshade in one shot.
I drew all the vectors up in Aspire, and laid them out for cutting on our Techno cnc.
I cut these all on our big machine, as the LC 3024 was a little too small to get them all in one file.
I cut the parts with a 1/8" end mill at about 120 inches per min. 6 minutes until I had a stack of acrylic, ready to work on!
One of the tools here at Oxenham Design that we don't use all the time, but when we need it, becomes the 3rd most valuable tool I own. It's basically a mitering jig. It has a Makita laminate trimmer mounted underneath, and the table pivots from 0 to 85 degrees. On top of that, the assembly moves in and out via a rotating knob, to allow for perfect miters on small pieces. We use this whenever we're building miniatures, and I'd be lost without it.
 With all of the pieces run through the mitering jig, it was down to assembly!
They all went together perfectly! And with routered miter joins, all the corners were flawless.

I love the way it came out. Once it was cleaned off from all the electro-static dust that seemed to appear out of nowhere that is. The whole thing mounts to the light base through a whole in the chimney, and the chimney hides the nut.

Once the rest of the pieces were finished, there was nothing to do but clean-up!
The art director agreed to take a trip to the shop, and pickup the pieces, saving us a very early delivery to location in the morning! Thanks MB!

This was a great build! The timeline was perfect, 10 hours a day, nothing crazy like the summer.

I hope I get the dog back, that would be awesome!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Monopoly Game Over!

We spent the whole weekend at the shop, getting the rest of the monopoly props built. I really like building stuff, and when I'm at the shop, I know exactly what I need to be doing. This makes being at the shop a total joy! I don't ever get bored at the shop.

 The machining of the rest of the dog went very smoothly. And the fact that our Techno cnc was turning out finished pieces quite rapidly, meant there was no waiting around!

 It didn't take very long to assemble all the pieces either. I ended up drilling two 5/16" holes under the ears and down into the neck and body. I epoxied 2 dowels into the holes, to add strength to the head.
I ended up cutting all the parts with a 1/4" ballnose cutter, and a 9% stepover. This left some stepping on the near-vertical sections of the geometry, but with HDU it was easily cleaned off. It can be faster most times to just sand and file the seams, versus running a new toolpath at a 90 degree angle to the first pass. If the part had to adhere to the geometry specs tightly, I would toolpath the near vertical edges with a super tight stepover, limited to just those areas. But not today my friends, today the sandpaper and file wins the race!

We primed the dog in 2 stages. The first stage was done with a water-based, single stage epoxy paint. After the HDU was 'sealed', we moved onto using the Rustoleum sandable primer. This primer comes in black, is super easy to sand, and doesn't clog the paper. Plus it handles a mix of different solvent based topcoats without wrinkling or cracking. Nice stuff.

We were asked on Friday if we had time to paint a chest to look like the 'community chest' on the monopoly cards. We agreed, and the chest was delivered around 9 pm Friday night.

Jody scuffed the whole thing down so the paint had a fighting chance of sticking. The poopy part was all the hardware was riveted on, and we couldn't get to the backs of the rivets to drill them out.

This meant spraying all the hardware white, then masking it all off for the blue.
We used a latex acrylic for the blue. Fast dry, opaque, and water clean-up. Plus, the chest has to last 1 day, so durability isn't a factor.
It came out pretty sweet. It's only being shot from the front, so we didn't have to be meticulous with the back side.

The hat and the iron got primed with the black Rustoleum primer, the same as the dog. By the time these where ready for paint, they were so smooth and beautiful, I almost wanted to keep them black!



Thursday, 22 November 2012

Go Back Three Spaces!

There was a bit of a set back today when the "ready for primer' top hat got bumped and fell on the floor :(
The top section, which was made from 3/4" pvc, popped off, and both pieces rolled across the shop floor.

Stupid monopoly hat.
Jody was able to repair it flawlessly though. I don't want to point any fingers, but I wasn't anywhere near it when fell....................but Jody was........just sayin :)

The iron got cleaned up and is waiting patiently for primer. One down.

I also got started on the dog files as well.
 I was able to slice the cad file up for import into Aspire. Usually there is always 1 piece that doesn't want co-operate with the process, and the centre of the dog was no exception!
I wasn't able to close the mesh properly, but instead of fighting with it, I just employed my usual work around.
As one side was able to slice and close properly, I'll just use that side of the model, and mirror the geometry once in Aspire.
I modeled a simple box that defines where the bottom of the dog ends, and centered it to the dog section.
Once the data was imported into Aspire, I drew a box around the part I didn't want, and just cleared it away. Leaving me the geometry from Hexagon that I wanted in the first place! This portion will get mirrored, giving me the finished mid-section.

The sides of the dog came into Aspire flawlessly as usual. The detail in the file is quite good. And as this is a manufacturing cad file, all of the undercuts have been removed in the file, which works seamlessly with Aspire.

The dog will be the first piece I have cut on our new Techno lc3024 table top machine. I think I have been avoiding using our new cnc because it's SO new, and clean. I think making it dirty and dusty was a big mental block for me........weird or what?

It hums along beautifully. It max's out at 250 ipm which is pretty awesome for a machine this size.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Advance to Boardwalk!

First up on the Monopoly build is the iron! It may be because it looked the easiest, I don't really know.
This will be a straight build, with no 3d work on our Techno cnc.
I was able to export the .stl mesh data from Hexagon to Corel. I'll use this data to pull sizes and angles from.
It turns out that at this scale, the irons handle is so close to 5/8" diameter, that I could use a piece of acrylic rod we had. I laid out the size and angles for the handle on a piece of melamine, then using a torch, was able to quickly heat bend the acrylic rod to the needed shape.
They have requested that we make the base of the iron around twice as thick as the cad file, as to read better on camera. I made the decision to cut the handle down a little to compensate for it.
For the gripping portion of the handle, I had a piece of pvc pipe that was SO close to the size, I decided to use it. I split the tube down the middle, hoping it would close in a little, like EVERY other pvc pipe seems to do, but no luck! It held its size steadfastly. I ended up gently heating it, to open it up enough to fit over the rod. While it was still warm, I closed it back together, and glued the seam.
I pulled the profile shape of the iron base out of the drawing, and toolpathed it in Aspire for cnc-ing. I cut this from 3/4" pvc. I took the handle angles, and set up the drill press. I punched the holes in about 1/8", so the handle has a secure mounting method.
Once the handle was securely glued in, I drilled through the bottom of the 3/4" pvc, so I could screw the handle in as well. An on-set iron malfunction is no fun for anyone. The final piece was a plate of 1/4" pvc glued to the bottom of the iron to cover the screws, and get to our 1" thickness goal.

The iron will sit clamped overnight, while we moved on to the other elements.
Next on the list was the hat. I figured this was the most amount of work, and wanted to get started on it right away.
The stl file mesh was pretty dense on the hat. In fact, it was so dense, using it for anything but a size reference was impossible! I re-drew the form on the left at a way lower polygon count, in a usable mesh for this build process. I never had any intention of 3d machining the hat anyway. . I was hoping, in the beginning, to just wrap some styrene around a form. But it became very evident that the top portion of the hat actually has a 1.5 degree draft. Darn! I was able to un-wrap my new mesh in our other software package, which would give me the flattened shape, allowing for the draft angle.
The left side is my imported mesh, and on the right is the unwrapped template. I'll cut this from .060" styrene sheet.

 I'm also cutting a slightly larger one to wrap around the first one. This will allow me to overlap the seams, and make the wall thickness 1/8" thick. The double wrapping will also help the styrene hold its shape securely.
I cut the top plate for the hat from 1/4" styrene, leaving a rabbet for my double wrapped piece to securely glue to.
While the upper portion was setting up, I cut the brim of the hat out of 3/4" pvc.
The brim of the hat has a definitive curve to it. I decided that the best way to tackle this would be to make a wood cradle, with the same curve as the cad file of the brim of the hat, and drape form the pvc. I havent actually drape formed 3/4" pvc, but I figured the process would be the same as other materials, but the heating time would vary. I did this at home, as I only have a small oven at the shop.
Well, it turns out that 12 minutes at 375 degrees is the perfect time and temp. The hot pvc draped beautifully into the wooden form. Unfortunately, the house now smells like cheap beach-balls. Glad I didn't throw it in the oven with the chicken Jody was making for dinner!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

"Advance to Go"!

We started our newest build on Monday, and as there's no NDA yet, I will post the build as it progresses. However, to avoid any problems, I can't divulge any plots or what it's actually for!

We have been asked to build the Monopoly tokens above for a.................................... :)
They want them full-size. With the exception of the hotel. That will actually be made into a lamp-shade!
I was super lucky to get the CAD files from Hasbro. This will definitely speed up the build!

However, the only full 3d machining were going to do is the dog. I will, however extract the 2d information I need from the 3d files on the other pieces. These came to me as .stl files, so it won't be as easy to get the 2d info out of it like it would be from say solidworks, or our via-cad software, but I'm resourceful!
So far, I've been dealing with just the computer end of things, but tomorrow we'll start head on into it.
This should be fun............and the deadline is a little longer than normal!