WELCOME!


It is hard to believe that it was only seven years ago I witnessed a CNC router in action for the very first time. I was fascinated with what I saw and simply had to have one! Although I had been in the creative end of the three dimensional sign business for most of my life I didn't really know what I would do with one - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Through extensive research and LOTS of hands-on practice I quickly found out that my MultiCam router was capable of just about anything imaginable.This journal will chronicle that journey to date and continue each week with two or three entries as I continue to explore just what is possible with this wonderful tool... -dan

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Black eye candy


Back in April I wrote a blog post about plasma cutting ten tons of skulls. We tossed them into the last shipment of shipping containers. On Sunday we fished two of the plasma cut pieces from one of the bins and delivered it to a local welding shop. They welded them into the test fence panels which were delivered and welded into place today. The owner and I inspected the result and declared them finished. The welder then backed his truck to the shipping container and we fished our sixty more of the plasma cut logos. Soon the park will be a whole lot spiffier and more secure.




Sunday, November 27, 2016

Looking forward to next year at IAAPA

With a successful International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) EXPO now behind us we are beginning to dream up concepts for next year's show. Our idea to build a one piece display which set up (and take down) in mere minutes worked exceptionally well. We'll build on that concept next year. We are seriously considering taking a twenty foot booth next year, doubling our space. But to keep costs in check we want to pack that doubling of our display into the same compact shipping unit - which has to measure ten feet long by seven and a half feet wide by eight feet tall. That's a challenge!

I began the design working in EnRoute. This allowed me to work accurately and accurately in scale. It also allowed me to tweak the design quickly so all of the pieces fit together. The view from above was of a mini stage with the walls hinged at the corners to fit together perfectly.


Then the walls are unfolded the booth will measure twenty feet wide by ten feet deep. A 'floating' high-tech motor cycle will act as a photo opportunity. We will happily take pictures of our prospects and send them to them afterwards when we follow up on their visit. The motor-cycle will come out from the raised platform on a sliding mechanism and slide back to allow shipping.


Once I had a workable plan it was time to do up the concept art. The top portion of the display will fold down into the canopy for shipping. This folding mechanism will have a hydraulic assist to make the setup easy. This is going to be a whole lot of fun!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Lucky horse shoe sign


The latest project is a fun one. Once again it will involve a number of disciplines and materials. The post is to be made of structural steel surrounded by hand sculpted Fibreglass Reinforced Concrete. The horseshoe and sign board will be routed from 30 lb Precision board (with a welded steel core) and the horse will be hand done using sculpting epoxy. 


I used the hand drawing as a template to create the vectors I needed to create the routing files. This project is fairly simple. I then duplicated and combined the vectors to create the middle section of the sign. A square tubing frame will be fit and welded up into the center to add some structural strength.



I started with the sign board. A simple flat relief was created as a first step. I made it 1.2" tall.



I then used a modifier file (from the new Woodgrain Texture Collection) Keeping in mind that black does nothing, white will raise the relief by the amount entered and greys do something in-between depending on their value we know that this bitmap file will effectively twist or warp the relief by 0.4" over it's length and width.


Next up was the woodgrain. Before this step I created a copy of the vectors and flipped them for the back side of the sign.  I removed the lettering from this sign. Once more I was using a bitmap file from the new woodgrain collection. For the front side I drew a rectangle around the board for the purpose of modifying the relief. I did not want the woodgrain to go through the lettering and by selecting the relief, the lettering border and the rectangle the texture is applied to the board but not the lettering.


On the reverse side there was no lettering and so the woodgrain bitmap texture was applied to the entire board.


I then selected the relief and that same lettering border and modified the relief by raising the lettering border. It followed the warp of the board.


I then selected the lettering and the base relief (the board) and added the lettering using the dome tool.



The horse shoe was created in a number of steps.  I first created a flat relief using the horse shoe shape. Then the toe piece and heel nubs were created and taller reliefs. These were then combined with the base relief. The long holes which hide the heads of the nails were subtracted from the horseshoe relief on the front side of the sign only.


I then used the subtract from command to cut the nail holes into the shoe by 0.2" This was done on both sides of the sign.








I then combined the reliefs to finish the files. They were then ready for tool pathing and sending off to the MultiCam.


Thinking ahead

Before the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions EXPO had finished we were already talking about next year's show and what our booth might look like. At this show, like every show entry we had previously done we were reminded that people ask about what we have on display. They can't imagine what else you might be capable of.

We had packed this year's display chock full of signs, design art and pictures of finished projects. Our videos were playing on the television and we had slide shows handy on our iPads. It worked well. But not year we want to build a booth that showcases our larger work along with our ability to tell a good story. We will most likely also include a drawing table with me perched there doing some concept drawing. We will also spell out (with signs) that we do concept design, and building of mini golfs, adventure parks and themed restaurants.

While we crammed a whole lot into ten by ten feet this year we are thinking a twenty foot booth next year would allow us to operate a lot more comfortably - especially when things get busy. As far as theme, well, it has to be over the top.

Before we began design we sat down with the organizers of the show and talked about rules regarding height and signage. They do not restrict height for showing our product. We just can't put any of our advertising up there. No problem!

After much discussion we decided on a space - mechanical - tech theme. We wanted it to be colourful but well worn and aged. We also wanted a photo opportunity in the booth - hence the flying motorcycle. Who could possibly resist? We want to create a truly memorable experience (with pictures) for all who stopped in. We will offer to take their picture and with a badge scan send it to them by email.

The entire twenty foot booth will assemble easily and quickly, folding out and tipping up with little extra assembly. It will condense down to form a single ten foot by eight foot self enclosed pallet for ease of shipping.

This is going to be fun!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Great progress on the arches

While we were attending the IAAPA EXPO in Orlando, Florida our crew stayed behind to work in the shop. They did not disappoint. Their task was to paint as many of the bowling alley arches as they could in the five work days they had. They applied the three base coats to all twelve arches and got a good start on the glazes. five arches were finished with only a little more work left on the remaining pieces. They all look fabulous! It sure is nice to have a crew we can count on whether the management is in the shop or not. THANKS!


GREAT SHOW!

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions EXPO was a wonderful success. Over the course of four days we were privileged to showcase our company to thousands of potential clients from around the world. Our presence was small this year, our first as participants in the show. The reaction to our booth was overwhelmingly positive. We were delighted to be honoured with a Brass Ring Award for Best Exhibit in our category - no small feat in a show this size.





Sunday, November 13, 2016

IAAPA setup in a flash

Last year we decided to attend the IAAPA EXPO (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions EXPO) as vendors. We designed a booth and built it from plasma cut steel, Precision Board and sculpted concrete. We built the display as one piece with the logic it would save time and money as we set it up. Today was the test. We got into the show area just after nine o'clock this morning and by ten o'clock were back in the hotel. Setup was that quick! Tomorrow morning we will go in for a few minutes once more to unroll the carpet and check things over one last time. The trade show starts on Tuesday morning.