Much of the work in our shop is done by hand. We rely on years of experience and skill to do the things we do. But we also embrace modern technology, tools and materials where possible. Tucked away in the back room is a marvelous machine - a MultiCam CNC router. It is a robot that is used for carving out pieces of Precision Board, high density urethane. The material is space age, and replaces lesser materials we used to use like wood. The beauty of this material is it can be shaped into anything we can imagine. Properly coated with acrylic paints it will last indefinitely.
While we still do a lot of hand carving and sculpting (and always will) we also selectively use the most modern machines, processes and computer programs to give us a hand. It all starts in my sketch book with a balll point pen to get the ideas nailed down. Then I do the concept renderings to refine the idea and sell it to my client. Once they sign off on the project it is then designed as a 3D file in a program called EnRoute. This program also writes the G code that tells the CNC router where to go and how deep to carve. Last night I set up the machine, laid down a sheet of two inch thick Precision Board and set the machine in motion. Then I went to bed. While I slept soundly the machine was busy in the shop carving five times fater than I could do it by hand.
This morning I came out to see the progress. The MultiCam was still busy, whittling away at the board but was almost done. The two faces of the sign looked just as I imagined they would back when I was sketching the rough ideas in my sketchbook.
As soon as the MultiCam is done the hand work will start once more. We'll weld up a steel frame, assemble the pieces, and then begin the hand sculpting and painting process.