Batter up!

This past week we were busy with our MultiCam. Jeff Hartman, one of the creators of EnRoute software was here in my studio. He was here to develop and test an interface to program and run the fourth axis of our router.

Up to now, to run a file I’ve had to manually insert some code to allow the machine to switch from going back and forth on the router bed and instead position the spindle over the lathe and then turn the piece set degrees. Jeff and his team’s work in EnRoute will instead do this work automatically inside EnRoute. To run a rotary file is now a simple matter of using the MultiCam keypad to call up and position the spindle over the lathe. I then need to establish the starting X position (one end of the piece) and then hit start. It sure is a whole lot easier than before!

Jeff was working with his boy scout troop at home to turn some bats by hand. He thought it would be a cool idea to bring three bat blanks with him and turn them on the router to test the work he was doing. We had great fun making the bats and he will have a cool show and tell for his scout troop when he gets home.

The bats turned out great and were a cool way to test Jeff’s ideas for the software.

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Almost ready!

Today was a day for which I’ve been waiting for a long while. Shawn Kirsch, a tech from MultiCam came to the shop to start in on setting up our new machine. We swung the gantry into position, bolted it down and and then he leveled the machine before doing hookups and dialing in the various parts. Shawn has done this job lots of times previous and it didn’t take long to do his job. 
Once everything was right with the main router it was time to focus on the rotary attachment. Shawn first set it up and then dialed it in until it was perfect. 
As Shawn worked he explained things in detail to me. Although I’ve been using a similar 3000 Series MultiCam for six years this was a wonderful opportunity to learn from one of the top technicians in the industry. Sean is a down to earth fellow, who explains it all in real english. I had asked him to explain it all to me like I was brand new to routers in the hope I would become better at operating the machine in the future. I have so much to learn, even after six years. And learn I did.
While we were at it the new router got a new computer in the office.  It will be linked with the router alone. It’s sole task will be to serve the files to the router. The latest MultiCam software will be installed. A shiny new cable between the computer and router completed the package.
The machine is now set up and running. Tomorrow the actual routing adventure begins… 
Stay tuned.

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Christmas came early!

It was with great anticipation and delight I directed the big semi up our long driveway to where we would unload the new MultiCam. While I chased down and printed out the necessary papers to send off the old router the driver unchained and untarped the load. The machine was shrink wrapped in white plastic as I knew it would be. I quickly checked for physical damage and then signaled the unload to begin.
The rotary attachment was the first to come off the truck. It was squeezed into the router room doorway – a test for the big piece to come.
Next off was the HEAVY DUTY ROUTER. Weighing in at 4,000 plus pounds we were a bit worried the heavy rains of the last few days would give us trouble in the gravel drive. Our fears proved unfounded. The machine barely squeezed through the narrow drive up the back however, with mere inches to spare on each side. We slid one end into the doorway and then using floor jacks on one end and the forklift on the other we snaked it into the workshop. 
The new vacuum was the last piece to go in. Everything fit perfectly. The gantry still needs to be put into place and everything has to be bolted together and dialed in. Now we wait for the tech to come set it up for us.

The old machine was then loaded on the truck, chained into place and tarped securely for the drive back to Texas. I only missed it for a minute as I admired the shiny new replacement.
Now, the new adventure begins. Stay tuned…

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Moving day

Moving day is always exciting. Today was just such a day.
Our new four axis MultiCam 3000 router is now in transit to our shop. It was time at last to disconnect the old machine and move it out of the way. It will be loaded on the truck as soon as we unload the new one. It is going back to MultiCam in Texas and eventually on to a new home. The old router has served me well for better than six years. With it we have created all manner of wonderful projects. It has run with virtually no problems. Our local tech center has done periodical maintenance, and tweaked the machine from time to time to keep it running smoothly. The old machine still works well and should run for someone else for many years yet.
It was with a tinge of sadness we emptied the room in readiness for the new machine.
My good neighbor Gord brought over his trusty forklift to slide the old mahine out of the router room and then bring it around to the main shop. I finish readying it for shipment there.
The new MultiCam is also a 3000 series 4′ x 8′ router equipped almost identically to the old one. There are two important changes. This spindle is water cooled this time so we can confidently run our long duration files without fear of overloading our air compressor. And along side the new machine will be the large fourth axis. An extended gantry allows the spindle to slide over to it.
The new machine is loaded on a flatbed truck and is somewhere between Texas and our shop as I type. Monday, or Tuesday at the latest it will be unloaded and carefully placed in it’s new home. I can hardly wait! Stay tuned for progress reports…

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I’ve seen the future!

Today I am in transit to Orlando for the Sign Magic Workshop to begin in a couple of days. I flew via Dallas and had a four hour layover there. Normally I don’t care much for layovers but this one was special. MultiCam’s head office and manufacturing facilities are located within a stone’s throw and John Harris, kindly offered me a tour. It was too good an opportunity to pass up.
I knew the MultiCam facility was big, 100,000 square feet under one roof and another 40,000 square feet close by. That is a big space! We toured the office portion and then went through a door into the manufacturing portion. Cavernous best describes the space.
We walked up and down each long, long isle, poking in to each department. Our walk started in the massive, bulk steel department, through cutting, welding, finishing, painting, electrical, assembly and packing. It was truly impressive seeing machines in all stages of completion. Everything, every machine was oversize – make that huge. The CNC’s were of every size shape and configuration. Along the sides of the large space were (relatively) smaller areas lines with racks of pieces, ready for when they were needed. Everything was in it’s place, neat and organized. 
As we came to the end of our tour we came to a machine that was nearing it’s final stages of assembly. I knew immediately whose machine this was for it was the only one like it I saw on the tour. This machine had my name on it. It was a 3000 series router, with a raised and extended gantry. The fourth axis bed was to the left side, pieces of the workings ready to be bolted together. The electronics were largely in place. It reminded me of the first time I saw one a MultiCam at a trade show six years ago.  I sat in front of the machine and watched it work but was really not seeing what it was doing. Instead I imagined what I might be able to make it do. Today, as I stood in front of the dream machine, I again had visions of it working in my shop. Higher gantry clearance and a fourth axis will give me unimagined capabilities. 
It is going to be fun! A large order of Precision BOard is also on the way, including some large blocks glued up especially for the fourth axis. The folks at EnRoute are working on ways we will employ this new technology. And as I start back from this trip in fourteen days the new MultiCam will also be in transit as well. The future is closer than ever!

Published with permission from Source.