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, 19 March 2015

Still the train rolls on!

Before I post about the train, I thought I would post an interesting link to a contest being put on by Tools Today!
They are running a CNC Vector Pattern Contest. You can follow the link and rules by clicking on the image below:
Vector Contest
$500 in tooling at Tools Today is no slouch prize, that's for sure! That's American dollars to boot. I think with the exchange, it equals about $10,000 Canadian :) I know a lot of people use vectors with their cnc's, so make sure you at least check out the contest, you never know! Also make sure if you win, you get the Amana single flute up cut bits, I'm almost exclusively using those for everything now!
Actually, everything 2d on the train has been done with the 1/4", and 1/8" cutters, and the edge quality is second to nothing else I've used............but speaking of trains.......

The cab section, and coal car came into existence pretty quickly! Again, made entirely from .400 black pvc. The nice thing with pvc is being able to chem-weld it, as well as drive screws into it for added strength.

The train barrel was the next on the list! I brought all of my 2d vectors into Hexagon, from Corel.
From that point, I used the vectors to mass out the 3d pieces I actually needed. The barrel was the primary concern. I wanted slits down each side of the barrel for the walkway to slide into. This was for 2 reasons. The first being that it will look so much cleaner at the transition point between the 2 pieces, and the second being the walkways will actually clamp the barrel, preventing it from moving around, essentially making everything structural. A major concern for when the whole thing travels down the highway, at highway speeds.
You can see the slots, and the flat section at the rear, that will locate the barrel, as well as have it sit level.
From Hexagon, I saved out the final model, and sent it to STL Slicer. Another one of my favorite pieces of software! This makes slicing any stl file a breeze, and I like a breeze, that's for sure!!
Stl Slicer chopped the model into 16, 2 inch slabs, because that's the thickness of the HDU material were cutting the pieces from.
From that point, the pieces were sent to Aspire 8, for 3d machining. I also punched out the centers in Aspire, to cut down on as much weight as possible on the finished assembly.
In order to keep the machine time down to something reasonable, I cut everything with a 1/2" ball-nose cutter, and took the time in the computer, to limit the toolpaths to just the 3d geometry, using a profile pass to finish of the vertical sections.

Finally, the test fit.............................like a glove! Once again, the computer reigns supreme! Thank you computers, thank you very much!


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