Quick as a wink setup

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.

International Sign Association Show

Today was the first day of the International Sign Association convention/show in Las Vegas. The display we created for MultiCam arrived safe and sound and their people had everything perfectly set up for me. It was with great pleasure I was privileged to show and talk about how we use EnRoute in conjunction with our MultiCam machine to do our dimensional work using Precision Board. It was with great delight I talked to hundreds of wonderful people, greeting old friends and new.

If you are at the show in the next few days please drop by – MultiCam, booth 712!

Packing for the ISA trade show

I’m really looking forward to attending the International Sign Association show in Las Vegas in less than two weeks. I’ll be at the MultiCam booth # 712 on the showroom floor. I look forward to meeting a lot of people and sharing my passion for creating dimensional signs.

Today in preparation for the show I began packing. My personal suitcase has to wait a little while yet but it is time to get the show pieces down south so we built a giant crate for each piece. It took eighteen sheets of plywood to fabricate the sturdy crates and they weighed in at almost 2000 lbs in total when they were all loaded.

See you soon in Las Vegas!

MultiCam TV

The last piece to get it’s final coats of paint was the TV stand and surround. Like the others it got its light and dark silver coats of paint. The flexible hoses got their bright green metallic. Once everything had dried thoroughly a glaze was liberally brushed on and then wiped off judiciously to make it look perfectly industrial.

The TV surround was carefully assembled and wired for the LED lighting in the gauges and ‘liquid tube’ which was clear acrylic tubing with air bubbles cast inside. After it was assembled and the base coats were dry this too received it’s industrial glaze.
I had great fun with the branding, sneaking it in thirty-one times through the display.

Ready to speak

As I designed the MultiCam trade show display my goal was to infuse three mechanical pieces with personality. While they are largely machine made and very precise the end goal was to make them look used and full of character.

The three pieces are now complete. The last time we looked at the lectern the pieces were beginning to go together. As always the actual build stage means some changes and tweaks. I made the bottom box a little larger so it could be used for secure storage. This also added a great deal of stability to the lectern. The traditional MultiCam feet add character and branding.

When the pieces went together I decided to move the table top supports onto the gears.

We first painted the lectern in pure silvers, three coats to bring out the depth of the metal flake colors. Some bright apple green hoses added a little bling and fun.

We then added a dirty glaze over the entire piece to create the mechanical, industrial magic we were looking for. One more coat of bright silver paint on the lettering finished things off nicely.

Lectern – Part four

I’ve long believed that if we come up with better ideas as we are building something the plan needs to be adjusted. Sometimes it means a little more time or materials but the whole idea of doing this kind of work is to do the very best we can possibly do.

After the weekend off I came back into the shop to work on the lectern.  I assembled the base and set the stand back on. As I did some finishing and fitted the gears I decided they were just too far apart from the base. After looking things over I decided the gears that theoretically adjust the tilt of the table needed to be part of the brackets rather than stand alongside. The solution required parking the gears and then cutting them to fit around the brackets. A little sculpting epoxy blended the seams together nicely.

There is still some small bits to route and assemble but it won’t be long until it is time for paint. 

Lectern – Part three

 The upper portion and motor base of the lectern stand was a challenging piece to build. There were a number of ways I could have handled it but I chose to do it with a combination of domed reliefs and one mesh. The piece we were building today was shaped a bit like a funnel with a horizontal tube in the middle and a lightbulb shaped thing on the top. An axle would go through the top part for the big gears and through the horizontal tube (‘motor’) for the smaller gears.

The round bulb was the first and easy relief using the dome tool.

The round horizontal shaft was next. Again I used the dome tool to create this relief. I would cut the rounded ends off later.

Next up was the side down funnel shaped base. The mesh tool was used for this shape. I drew out the vectors and then used the revolve tool to create the mesh.

A square zero height relief was quickly created. Then I selected this relief and the mesh to activate the combine tool. The other oddly shaped zero height relief was also created at the same time. I would use this relief (merge lowest) to clip the ends of the hot dog shaped relief to a square shape.

I then selected this new relief and merged highest with the lightbulb and the hot dog shape.

Once I had one relief I used the zero height odd shaped relief to clip the ends of the horizontal axle.

 I then created a round (flat topped) relief which would form the horizontal motor. This too would be merged highest with the rest of the relief.

Since the horizontal motor would have some square tubing inserted down the middle I created a zero height relief for that and modified the base relief by merging lowest with that square shape.

 The very complex shape was then finished. Now it was simply a matter of using the slice tool to create layers which would be routed singly and then glued back together after they were cut.


I duplicated and flipped one set so I had both halves of the funnel shaped base. I then aligned all of the pieces to the bottom of the plate and then nested them to fit tightly together. It was time for the MultiCam to do it’s job whittling them all out of a 2″ thick piece of 30 lb Precision Board.
Once the router finished cutting the pieces I started the assembly process. I first used our tables to cut channels into the back to accept the welded steel frame. I could have built jigs and allowed our router to do this task but it was quicker to just do this process by hand. The steel frame was laminated into the middle of the assembly.
I sourced some adjustable feet for the display. They are slightly smaller versions of the feet on our MultiCam – just one small detail to make this thing feel authentic. Our supplier was able to deliver in only a day!
Jack, our welder had been busy cutting steel and welding up a sturdy frame while I designed the cutting files for the inner plywood skin.
As always I fit the pieces at every stage to make sure it is all looking and working correct.
Next we’ll begin working on all of the bottom pieces of the base before we work our way to the top. The MultiCam Robot Man is also proceeding. I’ll be posting the progress on him soon. Stay tuned…

Lectern – Part two

The gears were next up. These were fairly straight forward and totally done in EnRoute. I first drew two circles for the big gear. I then drew a rectangle with slightly tapered ends. I reproduced and rotated this rectangle to form the gear teeth.  The smaller gear was created by using the point node tool to shorten the tapered rectangle. this was then rotated to form the gears. 

Then I added the middle circles to form the hubs. The gear teeth were combined with the outside circles.

For the spokes in the big gear I drew new rectangles and used the point edit tool to round the ends. This allowed the spokes to be perfectly round then I made then into reliefs.
The first step in making the gear reliefs was to create use the add to command to make flat reliefs that were an inch and a half high, the same thickness as our Precision Board.
I then used the dome tool to create the round spokes.  As I looked at the result I decided the gears would look better if I added an inner round piece to the gear body. This was as simple as creating two offsets (one inside and one outside) These new vectors were made into a separate relief using the dome tool.
The last step was to build the hubs. These were separate flat reliefs that were two inches thick. I then used a new circle vector (not shown) to create a new zero height relief  I merged (highest) all of the reliefs to this new relief. The center hole was created by merging (lowest) a zero height relief.

I created three copies of each  gear (for a total of four) and flipped two since they had to fit to the back when they were laminated together. As I set up the router I purposely left a thick onion skin (1/16″) for a couple of reasons. First it helped the vacuum table hold the small pieces in place during the routing. Once the pieces were finished being cut from the Precision Board I left the skin in place between the spokes and in the center of the axle hole. We use Coastal Enterprises one part PB Bond240 guess which expands as it cures. This means it oozes out a little. The onion skin kept it from doing this in the center portions. Cleaning up the glue on the outside is easy with the die grinder.

Once the glue had cured the onion skin cleaned up easily with minimal work or rather should have.
But this time I out-smarted myself. Although I had carefully lined up the gear teeth I didn’t hold the gear up to the light to sight the lining up of the spokes. This meant the first pair of big gears was sent to the dumpster. You can bet I took more care the second time around and got it right too.

Next post I’ll be working on the tapered base which was a little more challenging. Stay tuned…


Lectern – Part one

Building rather complex objectss is something I enjoy immensely. As I designed I knew from experience just how I would accomplish building the files in EnRoute, how I would machine them with our MultiCa, and how they would then be assembled and finished. Because Precision Board has certain limitations as far as structural strength I knew just how we would weld up a steel frame to go inside. Because the lectern would have to travel many, many thousands of miles and stand up to use in many trade shows we had to get it right from the start.
As I started building the files I first decided in my mind how many pieces we would build and how these pieces would be layered. I first had to decide scale.

The riveted front motor housing was the first piece to be made it a relief. This was fairly straight forward. The file was built entirely in EnRoute.  The inside and outside circle determined the dimensions of raised layer or outer ring. The intersecting lines would be the counterpoints for the rivets.

I then typed in an ‘M’ and sized and positioned it in the center circle. I didn’t get a screen capture but I used the jigsaw tool to get the shapes I needed around the ‘M’.

Creating a flat relief was the first order of business.

 Then I used the center shapes around the ‘M’ to drop the center.

As a last step I created the rivets by modifying the relief using the dome tool.

The table support bracket was next and again it was fairly simple. I defined the shapes using the vector drawing tools.  The rectangle at the bottom was used to segment off the bottom piece. I defined this area using the jigsaw tool.

Then I used the offset drawing tool to create the outline of dropped center portion of the bracket.

At this point I changed my mind and decided that the top (big) flat side of the bracket needed to be as deep as the round collar at the bottom. To do this I created a rectangle of appropriate size. I positioned the rectangle vector and used the jigsaw tool to again define the dropped portion (not shown.)

The round hole through the bracket was created by making a zero height relief. This zero height relief would be merged lowest as a last step to create the hole.

I then made one more outline to make a zero height relief. All of the pieces would be merged (highest) to this relief

The two table top brackets would each have three layers with the center layer  being cut out to accept the steel support. 

With the first two reliefs needed for the lectern created it was time to fire up the MultiCam. The pieces were routed from 1.5″ thick 30 lb Precision Board.