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, 10 October 2014

My Friends Nut!

The last step in the modelling process was to use a basic cylinder, and subtract it from the base peanut mesh. This cavity will get the half-round shelves glued in for displaying the product. Finally, I scaled it up to the 6 foot height requirement.
I exported the model out to STL Slicer to begin the final cuts for Larry's cnc.

The very top and bottom got sliced off. Larry wanted to cut this as 3 pieces. The mid section above would be a combination of rotary CNC and hotwire,

 while the top and bottom would get single sided machined with a 1 inch ballnose cutter.
Here's Larry's cnc chewing out the giant peanut! Keep in mind, that's a 1 inch ballnose cutter in the collet. Pretty big peanut!

I think it came out great! Good job Larry! I might have to hire that guy.........maybe! :)
I think he was going to send some pictures when his client had finished the painting. If he does, I'll update the post!

I Like Big Nuts and I Cannot Lie, You Other Brothers Can't Deny......

A big part of our work is just at the computer end of things. Either 2d graphics, 3d modelling, and sometimes product and set rendering.
The last job was for a friend and college of mine. Larry Ryan is a guy I met a few years ago on a job, and we seem to have just hit it off! His company does mostly extra large styrofoam stuff. If I need a 2 part hardcoat sprayed, or the project is too big for our equipment, Larry is who I call. He actually cut our oversized Cadbury egg last year because of our time constraints!

Due to his time constraints this time, and overflow of work, he asked if I could model a 3-dimensional peanut, that would eventually become a set of display shelves for some kind of promotion. All I have to do is model, and slice it, then upload the files. He'll cut it on his oversized 4 axis cnc router and hotwire cutter.

 The order of the day was to get the base shape of the peanut modeled. This was done in Hexagon as a simple sub-d surface. I pondered how to build this as all a single mesh model, but in the end decided to make it as 2 separate meshes. And as a cnc router doesn't care if a mesh is watertight, it made modeling this way a little easier!
Once the base shape had been created, I used a few online reference images to tackle the raised texture portions of the shell. I decided to model this a little more stylized than a real peanut. There will certainly be no mistaking exactly what it is from a distance!
I rendered out the two meshes, and sent the drawing for approval. Everyone seemed quite happy with it, so the next step was to prep the model for fabrication.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Nuit Blanche..........The Environmental Aftermath.......

The crew call time for the removal of the Nuit-Blanche display was 7 am Sunday.
You heard me!

This meant setting the alarm for 4 am. Not exactly my idea of Sunday morning, but it's all part of the gig. This is what the scene looked like when we arrived. All the water in the fountain was a horrible colour of dark muddy brown, kinda gross. This meant that it went perfectly according to plan! There was scoady brown foam floating on top, and the fountains were running with the goop no coming out of them! It was perfect! I wish we had gotten to see the whole event unfold, but we just couldn't be there for the show.

 I snapped this picture as the sun was coming up, after we had the riser cladding removed. The planned graffiti on the tanks was certainly a work art in it's own right!

This was a great project to be involved with! Jody and I had a great time, the whole way through! We met some really great people from the FX team, as well as the City!

A special thanks to Trevor Highland at the City of Toronto for getting us involved!

Nuit Blanche continues!

The 2 supports for the 20' pipe run were made from 4" PVC pipe. Quick, cost effective, easy to work with and plentiful! Which, by the way, is exactly how I like my ladies............... :)
Because these are going to be in the fountain, in about 8" of water, I put 10 lb weights into each leg, and drilled a few holes to allow the water in and out. These got a couple of coats of red oxide primer, which is how the reference images we were supplied, seemed to look.
The final portion of the pre-build was these 2 pipe flanges. These flanges mount to the side of the 20 foot pipe, and accept the vertical pipe that will be spewing the goo. I machined in the above grooves into the bottom, so that when the fx pipe starts flowing, not only will the goo leak out the top hole, it will also flow out these channels, allowing it to run down the length of the pipe!
When we arrived at location, one tank was already in place on it's riser, and the other tank was being fitted with it's aerator flange by the fx team. These tanks are huge! 8 foot diameter, by 13 feet tall. Our task for the tanks was to paint them. Because these are Poly tanks, which nothing sticks to, Jody and I held hands, and prayed to the adhesion gods for their mercy upon us!
The painting went very well. We used an exterior matt latex, which did the job, but it took nothing to scratch it back to the poly. BUT......it did hold for the duration of the event. Jody painted the bottoms of the tanks, while I perched precariously from the top of a Genie lift, slowly manuvering around. The total painting time was around 3 hours for the pair!
Hard to tell, but these tanks are now light industrial grey. We also had to clad the tank risers in a black material, as per spec. So we went with 3/16" coroplast. Light and easy to cut on location. Plus, the hollow cores would fill with water, essentially becoming a water ballast, adding a little stability to the sheets. Which was nice, because we were only zip tying them onto the risers.
Here's the final pipe assembly, ready to perform! The supports and flanges really look authentic. The very left pipe running upto the tank is all fake. It just needed to look like the right side a little. The right side is the business end of this crazy build. This is where the environmental disaster will happen, to cheers of onlookers everywhere!

The final potion was the tank graphics. It would have been awesome to print these on pressure sensitive vinyl, but I knew that if I did, they'd only stick to the paint, and fall of in about an hour, leaving a shiny white poly patch in it's place. So the solution was to have them printed on banner material, trim them out, and staple gun them on.

When we were done, Jody wanted to get a picture in the centre of the fountain. Largely because no-one is actually allowed to be in there! But why waste this awesome opportunity?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Toronto Nuit Blanche!

Our last build was for Toronto's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche art festival, which happened this past weekend. Our involvement was with the CanAmerican Energy Arts Team.

Here's the blurb:
Our portion was to paint the two huge tanks and fabricate a mock pipeline between the 2 of them. An FX team was also hired to load one of the tanks with an enviro-friendly "crude oil". This crude oil would then blow out a pipe and leak completely into the fountain at Nathan Philips Square. Turning the water into basically an environmental disaster! Just the way I like it :)
The first step was fabricating the pipe work that joins the 2 tanks.
We went with 3, 12" waxed sonotubes, cut down to 7 feet each . But to avoid any of the cardboard look, and to resist the elements for the duration of the install, we wrapped the tubes with .030" sheet styrene. This gave us a nice paintable surface as well.
It's amazing what a sheet of styrene can do!
The next step was to cut out the flanges. It was at the drawing stage that I realized that all 3 of the 12" pipes varied dramatically in size. I knew they would vary, but hadn't counted on a total of 1.125" between them! So all the flanges had offset holes cut into them. Glad I measured all 3!
I also cut the many bolt heads for the flanges on our little Techno. These were cut from 1/2" black pvc, and glued on with CA glue.
With the fake bolt heads glued on, and the flanges all test fit, I scribed a line that would become the "pipe joint"

With all the flanges done, it was a quick styrene scuffing, and time to roll on the paint!