The fanciest and most complex machine in our shop is a MultiCam CNC router. It is a wonderful machine that allows us to do some pretty cool things. One of it's most complex features is a four axis rotary attachment that turns the work in a precisely controlled fashion while the machine carves and moves back and forth. The difficult part is creating the routing files that run the machine.
Seven years ago when we got our first CNC machine it wasn't long before we caught the attention of both the software and hardware folks with the fancy and unusual projects we have turned out. We were using the machine in ways they never imagined from the very start. Since then we have become good friends and have worked together to expand the capabilities of both hardware and software. The four axis functions are relatively new and still a work in progress.
A few times each year it is my privilege to spend a few days with one of the owners and developers of the EnRoute software company, trying new things and talking about the projects I would like to do in the future. Many of those ideas show up in new versions of the software. Jeff is all ears as we work on the interface ideas, and talk of the wonderful things we want to attempt. The goal is to make everything as simple as possible, within the parameters of the software I already know but with more funtionality and possibilities for the future. Its an enjoyable but challenging time.
Each day we build files, then have the machine route them to test our ideas. Here's one of the projects. It looks simple but it really is a complex piece which required some serious head scratching. MAchines like to go straight, symetrical, smooth and true while we want things to be exactly the opposite in every way possible.
With every success (and failure) knowlege is accumulated and a new launching point is established. I sure appreciate the rare opportunities that this quality and private time affords! While we call it work the truth is it is a LOT of fun!