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  #11  
Old 06-02-2020, 02:05 PM
tmhooper tmhooper is offline
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Thanks for the additional replies. I think I have looked at every sign you've ever done TR - I am so impressed by how professional they look. I'll post the pictures I have right now and I would very much appreciate any advice or steering me away from the wrong direction.

I have now cut 3 signs out (gaming logo signs for myself, my wife, and my son). I really think this is what I'm going to try to create a little side business with - I haven't seen much out there for it and I very much enjoy the work. Whether that's just the right amount of niche, or too niche I guess time will tell.

The biggest problem I have run into is overall cut-time. I have now played with several different ways to achieve the same result, but it doesn't seem to matter what I do it takes about 4 hours per sign. If this is normal so be it, but I just don't think it is because it's not all that complex. I am running into either a knowledge limitation on my part for toolpathing or a software limitation in Vectric for not really understanding that I want to "clear several different depth pockets" but not necessarily handle it in small .1" pass increments. I'm sure I could go in and do a substantial amount of vector and toolpath work to make the pockets more logical, but at what point is there a difference between design time vs machine time, other than maintenance and running costs, which is fairly moot at this point in my "business."

I am wanting to do several different layers because these are most likely signs that people will be putting RGB lighting on and hanging them on walls where they are looked a bit closer than a typical store-front sign. My thought, which could be wrong, is that the added levels will create different shadows in addition to the viewing distance/depth being closer and more noticeable. Am I overthinking this?

All 3 of these signs were designed with a max .5" pocket depth and work down .1" per layer to the bottom of that pocket, effectively creating 4 different layers that I have actual 'components' sitting on. I have tried just regular pockets, v-carving with a 30deg bit and offsetting my vectors by .027 for each layer, and also have now just created a model in Aspire with my different components and attempted to just project 1 large V-Carve toolpath onto the 3d model. This method seemed like it was going to work, but I am running into some issues where the V-Carve toolpath gets a bit confused on how deep it should be when projected onto the edge of a model based on the exact same vector. My next step is to try and alter the model and offset it just a hair before projecting, but I'm pretty sure that's going to screw up my outside edges. The model method I tried is definitely the way to go if I can figure that out because it allowed me to create actual individual components that I could actively alter the heights of to achieve the best overall look in regards to the depths. I have paused this for the last couple of days though as I needed a break. I have a tendency to become quite obsessive with what I'm doing and I don't think I've thought about much else for 2 weeks now. LOL

I definitely want to incorporate my textures into one of my pocket toolpaths as you've mentioned, as the texturing toolpath in Vectric took nearly 2 hours on this 18x18 MrWh1skers sign, even with a .25" ball. As for you saying the painting is probably going to be difficult, I was worried about that and am not even sure I'm going about painting them correctly to begin with. That is a really good looking family sign you did - I have no idea how you got the lines so crisp everywhere with all of the different colors. I guess I'll find out if how I thought the painting on these types of signs is done works today though! The black base coat on 'Xander' should be good to go today. Going to lightly sand and then see how that works out. This is all so new to me. It seems like every moment is a harsh lesson learned. And the further into the projects you get the harsher they become because it effectively kills time spent on all previous steps!

Wow that ended up being a bunch - sorry for the long read. Here are some pictures of the signs I've done so far. Also, good lord is HDU an absolute dream to cut. I don't think I ever want to do a piece of wood again. On that note though, is it common for a V-Carve toolpath to leave behind a bit of a rougher finish or is it something else I'm doing wrong? The regular flat and ball EM's were on point. I've included a close-up of what I'm asking here.

Thank you so much!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg MrWh1skers HDU.jpg (51.3 KB, 46 views)
File Type: jpg MrWh1skersPrimedGray.jpg (74.1 KB, 51 views)
File Type: jpg Closeup.jpg (47.4 KB, 45 views)
File Type: jpg Becc MDF.jpg (55.2 KB, 48 views)
File Type: jpg Xander MDF.jpg (55.7 KB, 42 views)
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Thomas Hooper III
Hooper Designs LLC
College Station, TX
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Last edited by tmhooper; 06-02-2020 at 02:29 PM.
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  #12  
Old 06-02-2020, 02:36 PM
tmhooper tmhooper is offline
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And just for some perspective on how they will be painted (more simple and minus all of of the gradients and effects of course).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg MrWh1skers-Simple.jpg (14.3 KB, 23 views)
File Type: jpg Rebecca-Logo-Gradient-Circle.jpg (16.1 KB, 22 views)
File Type: jpg Xander.jpg (13.6 KB, 22 views)
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Thomas Hooper III
Hooper Designs LLC
College Station, TX
Gig 'em!

Stinger 24 - 1.7kw Spindle
Indexing Lathe, Engraving Laser
FTC, Laser Crosshair, 2" Gantry Lift, Counter Balance
Storm Vacuum
Aspire, Photoshop CS6, Adobe Illustrator
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  #13  
Old 06-02-2020, 02:50 PM
T.R.MacMunn T.R.MacMunn is offline
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I think I understand what you're trying to do. I suspect the smooth bottom is why your run times are so long...... you have to use a small stepover. That's where my checkered texture come in .... 91% stepover, but you have to run the toolpath twice, but your cleanup toolpath only once.
Although I have Aspire, I rarely use a 3D toolpath.
I've never tried making multiple layers like you have with Mr. Whiskers, & I have no suggestions on how to improve the outcome. I guess I'd likely just do a chamfer with a 90* V-bit & then do the rest by hand, with the depth of the chamfer cut being where the round-over would rise from, so mine wouldn't have that "angled" look yours has.
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Last edited by T.R.MacMunn; 06-02-2020 at 03:00 PM. Reason: Additional info
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  #14  
Old 06-02-2020, 03:00 PM
tmhooper tmhooper is offline
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Oh I'm not using a 3D toolpath - I figured out long ago that's the pits in terms of time efficiency.
My latest trial and error that I got so excited about is a 1/4" pocket set at 0 height and projected onto the 3d model to get my different layer heights all in one pass, and then a Vcarve toolpath projected onto the same model to get the finer details and to clean the edges up. It ALMOST worked.

Everything else has been 4 different levels of 30* Vcarving and offsetting each subsequent layer of vectors to accommodate the dropping .1" at 30 degrees. I use a 1/4" clearance tool for each level in conjuction with the vcarve, but on half the sign, what could be done in one pass in this HDU is taking 4 passes because I'm having to handle each layer so separately toolpath wise.

Gah, this stuff is so difficult to put in words!
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Thomas Hooper III
Hooper Designs LLC
College Station, TX
Gig 'em!

Stinger 24 - 1.7kw Spindle
Indexing Lathe, Engraving Laser
FTC, Laser Crosshair, 2" Gantry Lift, Counter Balance
Storm Vacuum
Aspire, Photoshop CS6, Adobe Illustrator

Last edited by tmhooper; 06-02-2020 at 03:07 PM.
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  #15  
Old 06-02-2020, 03:04 PM
T.R.MacMunn T.R.MacMunn is offline
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Do you have free long distance? If so, call me 613-929-9469
If not .... PM me with your number & I'll call you if it's convenient
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www.trmacsigns.com
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Last edited by T.R.MacMunn; 06-02-2020 at 03:08 PM. Reason: Additional thought
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  #16  
Old 06-03-2020, 03:58 PM
Jim Becker Jim Becker is offline
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Yea, talk with T.R. so you're both on the same wavelength here. I'm sure he can help you improve performance.

One thought that I always use when cutting stuff that involves multiple levels...think it through carefully before you start doing toolpaths so you can "work your way down" to your final depths. That may require creating a few extra vector boundaries, but the end result will work nicely. I had to do that for this memorial sign last year, as a matter of fact. This is cut from one piece of HDU and has three general depths, not including the v-carving...top of the heart, the cross bar on the top and the depth of the face prior to v-carve. Working down and reseting start depth cuts time considerably. I do this with T.R.'s texturing thing too, if it's an element of the design.

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  #17  
Old 06-04-2020, 10:51 PM
tmhooper tmhooper is offline
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He helped me tremendously in regards to painting and finishing, and had a few ideas to alter my tools/paths to cut some time as well! Thanks for the additional advice on the toolpathing and that's a good looking sign. My wife wants me to come up with something for her garden now, haha.
I still haven't gotten my machine time down yet and I think I'm on my own for trying to figure out the best way to go about it. I simply may be asking too much of the software with having so many fine details that basically have to be v-carved on so many different levels. I do have some more things to try though! If I discover something amazing I'll be sure to share.
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Thomas Hooper III
Hooper Designs LLC
College Station, TX
Gig 'em!

Stinger 24 - 1.7kw Spindle
Indexing Lathe, Engraving Laser
FTC, Laser Crosshair, 2" Gantry Lift, Counter Balance
Storm Vacuum
Aspire, Photoshop CS6, Adobe Illustrator

Last edited by tmhooper; 06-04-2020 at 10:54 PM.
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  #18  
Old 06-05-2020, 07:06 AM
T.R.MacMunn T.R.MacMunn is offline
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Thomas, one mistake EVERY new signmaker commits ( me included, 25 or so years ago) is attempting to put in too much detail. It is often distracting, & more often pointless, & usually only adds to your production time, & not your bottom line.

You're doing OK so far .... your designs do have necessary negative space. I understand why you're trying to create multiple layers for shadows, but dimensional signs create their own shadows, unless multiple light sources are aimed at them.

If you need to do a contour, that's fine, but multiple contours will just eat up both machining & painting time.

I'll admit ... I often add a shadow to dimensional letters, mostly to add bulk to a raised element, or enhance contrast. It's also a good way to incorporate elements that cast little or no shadow on their own ..... like V-carved lettering on a textured background. However, in most cases, a contour alone does not enhance legibility. I've never seen anyone else's reasoning for this, but I suspect it's because in nature, nothing has an outline. Our eye is unaccustomed to seeing outlines, but we see shadows every day, so we're not confused by one. By creating a contour, then duplicating it & offsetting the 2nd one, either lower right or lower left, you can increase your contrast, & hence, legibility .

Example attached. The V-carved lettering, in this case, only works with the outline/shadow.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg FBllranch.jpg (88.8 KB, 43 views)
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  #19  
Old 09-09-2020, 05:52 PM
Studio417 Studio417 is offline
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I'm late to the party, but have you set up and rendered as an .stl?
I've found that in some instances, .stl's run faster, with less tool changes.

Last edited by Studio417; 09-10-2020 at 04:00 PM.
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