I have been a member here at the Milwaukee Makerspace for about 15 months now. One of my favorite things to do here is machine architectural reliefs from foam. I studied architectural history extensively at UWM, so I have a lot of influences to draw from.
The first piece I did was 3/8″ deep, since that’s the bit we had at MMS. I first tried a piece with all flat surfaces. It turned out very well, so I tried another piece that has slanted roof surfaces; again, success, so then I did some searching and found a 1/2″ deep milling bit. I did several pieces “on a theme”, taking the first one and making slight modifications. All of these designs are my own creations, I just daydream and think them up.
I have found that I can get 1/64″ details on these pieces. I have recently started using 1″ deep bits, and the results are fantastic! The best part is that the foam is really cheep-cheep-cheep, $25 for a big sheet at Home Depot!
My process is:
1) design in Solidworks (CAD)
2) Export to .STL file format
3) Import into Cut3D, where I generate G-Code
4) Load into Mach 3, the software that controls the CNC router.
5) Let the foam fly!
I started out on the MMS router, which uses leadscrews; my newer Zenbot machine uses belts, and is blazing fast. I can now machine 8 times faster! The largest piece shown here went from about 19 hours down to 2.5 hours.
My next challenge is to get small lines onto my pieces that will represent bricks/mortar, etc. I’ll have to generate different code for that; the milling code runs in 3d, but the “bricklines” will need to be in 2d, so I’m looking forward to that challenge. I’ll be using Vectric’s “Aspire” software for that. More to come!