Cutting Metal 101

The product we design can be simple or complex.  It can be clip art, a jpeg file of something like a motorcycle, or a favorite sketch someone has given us.  The challenge is to create something that will bring a smile to someone’s face, reminding them of a favorite activity or place in time.

CREATING THE IMAGE

Many custom items start as a jpeg image(s) sent from a customer.  Mike considers the finishing techniques he wants to use, which helps him determine the amount of steel or surface to include in the image.  He uses a touch screen computer and stylus to freehand the image into a black and white prototype, which will be emailed to customers for approval.

In a simpler example, free clip art of the glassware was used as a starting point for the Happy Hour sign shown below.  Powerpoint software was used to create the phrase.   Each image is edited in a software program to create a black and white cleaned up version, which is then saved as a bitmap  file.  These files are then combined in another software program to create a vectored file.

CUTTING METAL

Now the fun begins!  The vector file is first brought into software that creates the cut path to be used by the CNC machine.  Based on the type of image being cut, a plasma tip and cut speed will be set along with other special handling.  Machine code is produced once all selections have been made. The machine code will then be loaded into the program controlling the CNC machine.  The image is aligned on the steel using the program.

SMW_Story_Cutting_CU_smSMW_Story_Raw_Product_CU_sm

 

 

 

 

 

HAND FINISHING

The raw product is sanded and polished with a grinder in preparation for the patina or paint application.  Many variables come together to make each piece unique.  The steel will take the patinas differently each time.  The patinas, which we buy from Steel F/X Patinas,  can be applied using various methods.  Copper is a favorite base patina, which was used in the Happy Hour sign shown here.  The Happy Hour sign has a bronze top patina added, which creates a totally unique effect.  An application of clear coat is then applied to seal the patina color.

 SMW_Story_Base_Patina_CU_sm   SRMW_Sign_Finished_With_Bronze_sm

AND THAT IS HOW WE DO IT!