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How to machine a freeform Corporate Sign

3D machined sign for a dental care company

Many signmakers use a large CNC router (milling machine with much X and Y though small Z), and work with the 2D CAM software for signmaking that comes with the machine. For most signs that works out OK, however now and then a special sign is requested, asking for 3D CAM capabilities. This is where the signmaker can add DeskProto to his toolbox. At a very low investment DeskProto will unleash the 3D potencies of the router, that until that moment had been hidden.

Use your 3D router to create a freeformed 3D sign: one that stands apart !

The original geometries
The original rock and branch of leaves, to be scanned in 3D as base geometries for this sign.

In this project the first idea was a straightforward sign showing "EVERGREEN FAMILY DENTAL" in plain text. The client then asked for a stronger link with nature, to illustrate the name Evergreen. This was done by combining the text with both a rock and a branch of leaves.
The project was done by Isaiah Coberly in Auburn, WA, USA.

Scanning the leaves
Scanning the rock
The 3D scanning process of the leaves (sprayed white for a better result) and the rock.

A real branch of leaves and a real rock have been used as base material. These geometries have been scanned with a 3D scanner: the handheld scanner "FastScan Cobra" made by Polhemus, see the illustrations above. The 3D scan produces point cloud data, and the Polhemus software has converted these points to polygon data (triangles) and exported the polygons as STL file.
Note that for 3D signmaking it is not needed use of a 3D scanner. The 3D data can also be generated using 3D CAD software, or be taken from some library of standard forms.

The sign design in Rhino
The sign in DeskProto
All geometries combined in Rhino, and the same data shown in DeskProto.

As the next step the Rhino CAD software has been used to import both STL files, to correctly position the geometries, and to add the text (in 3D) in the required font. Using Rhino's built-in rendering options it was easy to evaluate the result on screen. The final design has been exported as one large STL file.
This file next could be imported by DeskProto for toolpath calculations.

Foam model
The final sign
The resulting sign: in foam and after finishing.

The sign has been machined on a Multicam router, in a rather light type of PUR foam (PolyURthane). This foam model has been finished with a special primer that creates a shell around the foam (the sign is meant for indoor use). Finally it has been painted, and now it serves as an attractive sign for this dental care company. The part is 24"x24"x3".