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.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Styrofoam-The best and worst stuff ever!

Today we plunged headfirst into the styrofoam work for the 4 miniature sets we're building.
The Batman mountain got sculpted using various chisels, saws, and whatever else that worked. This is actually 3 layers of 6" styrofoam. You can see the "mountain road" winding it's way up the side.
This will get covered in our scenic mud, then painted and glazed. We have to keep the top as flat as possible, so the toy play can happen. The other side actually has a cut-away piece, so the kids can get as close to the action as possible.
For the Spongebob set, the actual set is a kidney shape, that needed to be textured like the bottom of the sea. I found a tile-able texture online, and scaled it to the 12' X 8' kidney shape. The set will get broken into 3 pieces, and finished at the studio on Monday. I probably could have carved it by hand, but our Techno cnc will mill away, while I work on the stuff the router isn't doing.
 I toolpathed it with a 1/2" ballnose, at 550 ipm, with 100 ipm on the Z axis. It didn't run nearly that fast in real life, as there was a fair amount of texture in the file. If I smoothed the model in Aspire too far, it lost a lot of the ridges, so this was a bit of a compromise.
I ended up having to bump up my Z carriage up to the next set of mounting holes to accommodate the 6" slab. I also set the machining boundary to the edge of the kidney shape. Sadly I don't have the travel or cutter to be able to cut the part out, so we'll use the border of the relief as a cutting guide with a reciprocating saw.
So far the first piece looks great! I had no reasonable way to hold the sheet on the machine, so I ended up using 2, 50lb barbel weights to stop the styrofoam from sliding around. It worked very well!

We also had a meeting with the art director today, so that took some time, but all in all, I'm happy witht the progress today.
Tomorrow I deliver some more stuff for the TV show The Amazing Race, then picking up a pile of material, then working at the shop. Busy day Tomorrow!
Jody and Anna will be hard coating the batman mountain, and hopefully I won't keep them waiting too long on materials.
I never thought I would build a mountain, and the bottom of the ocean all in one day :)


1 comment:

  1. I had to laugh at using the barbells to hold the foam in place - inventive! It never ceases to amaze me how something like EPS can be so light but strong and durable.