My posts about the laser cutter have been some of the most popular articles I have done on this blog. We are upgrading the workshop at the moment which has meant I haven’t had access to a lot of my machinery over summer (including the laser cutter). However, we are now fully back up and running, with more space and some nice new toys to play with.
Due to the clear interest in new technology for the model making workshop I have decided to follow up the laser cutting articles with some new insights into some other processes and techniques that may be of interest. Our CAD facilities have been expanded considerably this year, or at least they will be once all the new gear has arrived.
We received a 5 axis milling machine a couple of weeks ago, we are expecting two 3D printers any time now and will also be installing a CNC Router over the Christmas break.
With all of this equipment arriving more or less at once there will be quite a learning curve. I hope to document some of my trials and tribulations here, as I become familiar with these machines.
So what do all of these things do, and how can they be utilised by model makers/wargamers?
Lets briefly look at all of them:-
5 Axis Milling Machine
A milling machine uses a cutting tool to shape solid material into a form. I haven’t used a milling machine in over a decade, and those were manual machines, so it will be interesting to see how much of it comes back to me. Also this machine is totally CAD driven, so I have to learn all the 3D software to generate the files to be cut on the machine…
3D Printers are already a fairly familiar part of the modern figure sculpting industry. Many companies are already designing their figures in CAD and using 3D printers to produce their masters. As I learn the basics and get up to speed with the machines I will explain the various processes involved in create a 3D printed model.
A CNC Router shares much with a hand router as found in most woodworking workshops, except clearly it is controlled by a computer instead of by the joiner or carpenter. We use the CNC router for cutting out large 2D shapes as well as doing some shallow 3D work, terrain modelling for example.
I have already started playing around with the milling machine and I will describing my initial finding in the next few days. I am going to Glasgow tomorrow for the day to receive some basic training in these new machines. Hopefully this will help speed up the learning process and let me get down to some real work sooner rather than later…