Creative CNC-Where Art and Automation Collide
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GerryV

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Like many people, when I was young and foolish - rather than my current old and foolish state - I was taught that the greatest value and benefits came from using the right tools for the job, tools being plural. We all had our favourites of course but I can't recall many instances where I tried to do the whole job with just one.

So what is it with software that I and indeed others I've chatted with feel the overwhelming sense that we can/must do the whole d@med job using software - even if it costs us many more often stressful hours, costly errors, often compromises and, egads, likely even lowered life expectancy when a mallet and chisel or a whittling knife or perhaps a discarded piece of sandpaper and two minutes of elbow grease would have facilitated aspects of the job at hand?

Like many these days, I too am enamoured with the hype and promises of software - and it is wonderful, powerful stuff and yes, even essential for business success - BUT I have this growing feeling that I should not yet be throwing out my $12 pocket knife and 25 cent pencil for a down payment on the latest upgrade that I'm not sure I'd ever need or be able to learn anyway.

I mention this on this particular forum rather than others I participate in because, although as I'm drawn by the very real oportunities and benefits software offers, I have a sense that real creativity is not the child of software - it's one potentially powerful tool of many in the hands of real artists.

Was this a rant or just wondering where success and happiness really lie? Ah well, very glad to see this forum - thanks :-)

Brian Harnett

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Reply with quote  #2 
I like to work with my hands, a lot of what I sell never went through software and never got on the router table it was made by an organic analog computer me.

 But I like to combine the two and do some work in a 2d cutout and texture by hand it is usually faster and gives an authentic look.

I just love tools. last year I got a really nice south bend 14" metal lathe for free just to free up space in another shop a big step up up from the harbor freight one I had been using for the last 15 years.

Software is just another tool use it as much or as little for the job.


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Jay Morris

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I would have to agree with you Gerry, as far as tool's my CNC runs the longest but my table saw, miter saw and router table are the most used. They are in fact used over and over while the cnc is still doing it's one job. I love my CNC, it and its software does thing that I cant,  but, it's only one tool of many to get a job done.  I can imagine though that craftsman before electricity had a similar thought as well.

Dan Sawatzky

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I love my fancy dance four axis MultiCam and the EnRoute software I use. But I also love doing sculpting and carving by hand. We still paint everything by hand and with ab brush too.

The fancy software and router get me about half way through most jobs. The beauty is that these marvelous tools can do their job about five or six times faster than I ever could and without me breaking into even a small sweat. I don't want even one full time employee and the router makes that possible.

Sometimes the machine sits idle for weeks and other times it works around the clock. Both are perfectly OK with me as the need serves.

Would I want to go back to the good old days? NO WAY!

I love the new with the old.

-grampa dan

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T.R.MacMunn

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Reply with quote  #5 
Same here.
I'm really struggling with Aspire because it's often much faster to do a one-off by hand & I never find the time to learn. However, I can't sandblast in the winter, so learning to do textures on the router is critical. 
Like the rest of you, I like the CNC to do what it can do best & I finish it off with my chisels. 

I also can't figure out why the new guys with CNCs want to do signs but don't want to paint.  Michael Mezalick  thinks that a lot of guys consider it "sissy".  He may be correct .......
Dave R

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Reply with quote  #6 
I know what you mean-I'm working on a new sign (early draft attached) and didn't like the shape where some of the script letter elements overlap. If I cut this (actually I've changed the font and made some other changes since then) I could spend lots of time smoothing them out in software or go ahead and cut it and then just take the excess off with a rasp. Guess which way I'm going? I think many of us who have a background in actually working with hand tools have an easier time taking this path.

I agree that it is a challenge to learn the ins and outs of 3-d software for many of us. I'm particularly bad at making the time to learn something that I don't have a direct assignment that needs it. But the capabilities of the mill are so great that forcing the issue on learning 3-d software, whether Aspire, Artcam, En-route, or another package are well worth it.

As far as painting goes, I actually started out in professional trades painting and wallpapering. Got bored to tears in no time and only stuck with it for as long as I did as the money was so good. Once I got into boats, I learned how to hand varnish and spray poly-urethanes. In furniture I learned spraying lacquers and other things, but never learned the fine touch of hand painting. What I picked up from Dan and Jody in Indiana was an eye-opener. Although Mike may be correct in many cases, I think some of it may be just needing to get someone to teach one the basics. Sign painting is so different from much other painting and has it's own learning curve.

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T.R.MacMunn

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Dave, I think scripts should always have the letters welded together & the joints "smoothed". Scripts should look like handwriting . 

I design in CorelDraw, where this is very easily done with minimal node-editing skills. 
I've never tried it in Aspire ...... I always export from Corel to Aspire...... but I'm sure it can be done easily there as well.  
You may already know how to do this, but if you don't , PM me & I'll show you how.  In this case, doing it up front is faster than doing it otherwise, unless you're hand-lettering.
Dave R

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TR:

I agree totally with what you said. Joining is one of the changes I made in the next version. I also changed the font to the Letterhead Baseball font and made the border larger. I just haven't had a chance to finish re-building the model yet. Corel Draw is a program I have learned nothing in, although I picked up a copy of it some years ago (12 I think). At this point I do all my work in Artcam Pro and that type of smoothing is doable and may even be easier than I think in it, but I haven't figured out how to do it easily.

I much appreciate the offer-I've been admiring your work for quite a while now.

Leo Voisine

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I have a little bit of a different view on CNC.

I have been a manufacturing engineer since 1987 - and a production machinist since 1977.  Before that I was a marine and auto mechanic.

I have programmed all sorts of CNC machines and also fully articulated robots on automated manufacturing lines.

To me - the CNC machine is no different than a drill press or a hand plane.

Yes, I can understand the fascination with CNC.  I still have a passion for the CNC machine myself.

However - I REALLY REALLY want to develop my hand skills so that I can take the really cool stuff I can create with CNC and bring it to a level that is truly artistic.

The software and the CNC machine - are nothing but tools. 

I like my Stanley Baily #3 that was made in 1929 too.  It  smoothly goes ...  swoooshhhh 

I really love painting toooo -- love the colors - and I love what we learned to do in Indiana.

Nah --- the CNC does not stand on it's own any more than a paint brush can.

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T.R.MacMunn

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Reply with quote  #10 
Leo, at our age nothing stands on it's own......
Leo Voisine

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I am still a young guy

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Ernie Balch

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Reply with quote  #12 
I find Aspire is great for vectorizing, node editing and script fonts. My laser requires Corel draw as a front end but I do all my initial drawing in Aspire then export the .eps to Corel.

Aspire generates better files for machine tools than any other software I own.

ernie
oxenham1

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernie Balch
I find Aspire is great for vectorizing, node editing and script fonts. My laser requires Corel draw as a front end but I do all my initial drawing in Aspire then export the .eps to Corel. Aspire generates better files for machine tools than any other software I own. ernie


What laser do you run Ernie?

(Good to have you here by the way!!)

JO

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http://forums.oxenhamdesign.com/post/3d-summer-modelling-challenge-6946988?pid=1283204501#post1283204501

Ernie Balch

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Thanks,  Nice forum

We have an 80W Rabbit  1200x900 mm laser.  

You can see them at RabbitLaserusa.com 

It gets more use than the router on most days.  It is great not having to clamp the workpiece down..  I find myself cutting thin parts and laminating up the desired thickness rather than using the router.
Steve Luck

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Reply with quote  #15 

I enjoy reading how many of us handle a sign project with the tools available, including the CNC. I remember being totally overwhelmed when I bought my used ShopBot and had to learn how to set up a file to cut using Mach software that came with it. I was very grateful to a good friend of mine, Doug Haffner, for helping me get up and running. I remember how excited I was after cutting some samples out of HDU and PVC. Then a funny thing happen. I realized that I had to paint these things! The majority of my painting the past 10+ years has been with a roller on MDO boards! I hadn't used an artists brush on a sign in quite a while. It took a little getting used to but I was able to regain some of the skills I had not used for a long time. Technology had replaced
my brushes to make signs faster but I didn't realize that 3 Dimensional work also requires painting! I've rediscovered my love of art and hand painting all over again. My shop still makes many types of signs that requires vinyl or digital prints but I must admit that making 3 dimensional signs is very creatively gratifying! Software is a very powerful tool which I am glad to use, but the
creation of dimensional signs requires more than just technology. Software makes many things easier and faster (in some cases) but I think you have to be wise when to use it. I have found that cutting some letters on the ShopBot and then attaching them to the sign is faster than just letting the router cut everything in one piece. It still looks like what I was going to do, but I saved more than an hour of production time cutting separate pieces. So you have to really consider what is the most productive way before relying on the router for everything. Sorry for the long post, I'm just excited that I've learned some new tricks and have been fortunate to meet many artists that share this passion. I will continue to use software right along side of my jigsaw, paint brushes and shop vac!

Sign-cerely, Steve

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