Full Version: Stunt Engraving: Can you dig it?

From: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#1]
 14 Jun 2006


By David Lavaneri

Oh boy! Now I've done it!

A local University needs a ceremonial shovel engraved for a groundbreaking event, only two days away!

A local trophy shop calls and asks if I can engrave the shovel and have it ready in time.

Can you believe it? A person donates $5-million dollars for the construction of a new Library, at a California University and their presentation shovel shows up at the last minute?

What would you do? What would you do?

Here's what I did:

I said, "Absolutely! I've got ya covered!"

- or did I? -

It's not the first time I've stuck my foot in my mouth on an engraving project, but that's what makes the job description of "Stunt Engraver" so interesting.

Since my early days as an engraver, it wasn't uncommon that a project would be accepted, based sheerly on the concept that I'd find a way.

After all, the job would either be turned down by most, or somebody else would find a way. Why not me?

Not armed with state-of the art-equipment, it was necessary to cobble a method together, though, before accepting the task, I already had a concept in mind.

Knowing anything, even the most advanced computerized systems could hold, could also be jigged in a New Hermes GTX-Universal pantograph and having one of the most versatile "old technology" computerized systems, in the way of a New Hermes Vanguard 3000, at my disposal, (and some laser help from my customer) I was loaded for bear.

These were the steps I took, to dig my way out of this predicament:

Here's how the copy was presented:

  Text 1.jpg

I didn't like the way the lines were arranged, so it was decided to break the lines up, not only to read more easily, but in order to put emphasis on the recipient's name -- Also to limit the line width. The business end of a shovel is bowl-shaped and it's only possible to minimally climb the inclines of the shovel. I was dealing with a limited engraving area.

For ease of set up, and the ability to engrave the shovel in an awkward orientation, my computerized system was put to work, in creating a plastic template that could be used on a manual pantograph machine.

Here's the layout I devised, as shown on the monitor of the computerized system.

  Graphic Display 2.jpg

Now, it was time to engrave the template. A pantograph, unless fitted with a 1:1 arm, can only engrave a maximum character height of half the size (2:1) of the master template. Of course, smaller ratios, scaleable down to 7:1 are possible.

The effective engraving area of the shovel had already been determined to be about 2.5" x 3.5".

The computer-generated template size would be twice the size of the engraving area, at 5 x 7 inches.

Here's the template being engraved into a piece of scrap plastic engraving stock.

  Template 3.jpg

In order for the stylus of a pantograph to properly trace a plastic template, the template must be designed to create a path-width of about .030" and approx. the same depth.

It was a whacky way to set the job up, but it was the only way it would work. I'd have to engrave the job sideways!

  Set Up 4.jpg

The platform to which the plastic, double-face-taped template was adhered, can be recognized by those familiar with V3000's, as nothing more than the machine's aluminum flatbed fixture. Gotta have a solid surface beneath the flexible template.

By the way, the picture of the template isn't blurry. A lubricant was applied to its surface, making tracing of the template easier, which helps the stylus from accidentally slipping out of the template's grooves.

With the template in place, all that's left to do, is administer the irreversible incisions.

No turning back now!

No turning back 5.jpg

Now it's time to add the University's logo to the mix. A laser engraved template was provided by my customer.

Here's where things get dicey. >.< 

  Laser template.jpg

Without defined grooves to follow, I had to hug the edges of the image with the stylus, creating an outline of the logo. To make the task more daunting, the seraphs of the image seemed to be engraved at a shallower depth and too thin a path for the stylus of the pantograph.

The possibility of slipping out of the template and ruining the piece was very real.

I breathed a sigh of relief, when I had successfully engraved the logo and finished the job.

Because of the highly reflective surface, I wasn't able to get a quality shot of the item, but here it is. I think you'll see the essence.

Finished 6.jpg

That's it, until next time I have to grab my crash helmet and take on another risky project. :-) 

EDITED: 28 Apr 2007 by DGL

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