Today I will feature some of my latest design projects and share with you some of my personal comments and challenges.
1. This project involves adding a quote from my personal facebook page (my own words) to a Summit SWE tuning slide. I created a flat surface above the slide and pocketed inside the text with a .014" endmill at 20,000rpm. This part is being cut on the VMC as I type so I will show a finished photo later. I could have designed the text to be raised and contoured with the curvature of the tuning slide surface, but this would add hours to the cutting and quite a bit of time to the design. Maybe I'll do raised text on the next similar project.
Here's a photo of the toolpaths that cut this side of the SWE tuning slide. There are four sides to each SWE tuning slide, which explains why I sometimes work on toolpaths and designs for as many as 4 weeks non-stop to create a production scenario that cuts accurately, efficiently and is safe for my machinery. This custom design requires my VMC to travel to 102,143 different positions. By traditional machining standards, this is a massive program that would be considered a major undertaking unless you're talking to a custom mold and die shop. Consider this, only one command needs to be off by one decimal point to crash my VMC and cause thousands of dollars in damage. This is why I often black out days in my schedule where we have no visitors, I don't take phone calls and sometimes will not even speak with my fellow co-workers. Each program has to be perfect out of my own perfectionism AND out of necessity to machine safely. You may see photos on facebook where I look intensely focused...I AM.
Okay, this program just finished. I'll go rinse off the part and snap a photo...
2. The next project we'll explore is design and production of the latest 2011 Nouveau braces, which differ greatly from previous versions. The new design allows different tuning slide and bell crook spans, which solves some serious production limitations that the end user never considers. Now it is possible to build a Nouveau trumpet with just about any bell and tuning slide regardless of span lengths. This rendering shows a thickness analysis of the Nouveau valve casing braces, which allows me to find thin areas that could potentially affect SWE and solder surface area. The colors are on a scale that I set, in this case red is .100" and dark blue is .500". The blue cylinders are the bolts that hold down my stock when cutting. These are drawn into the design to prevent hitting them when cutting.
Here you can see the parts cut on one side. Against the advice of most fellow machinists, I use high quality coolant to speed up production and increase tool life. Many claim that coolant is too messy to deal with and use it only for hard to cut materials. My motto is make every cut as easy as possible even if it means washing the part afterward. This part will need to be flipped and cut on the backside with a separate program.
Finished Nouveau braces cut from the stock. Next step, carefully trimming the edges. Then hand sanding, brushing, radius profiling of the leadpipe and bell mating surfaces and final fitting to the valve casing specific to this build. To highlight the depth of 3D designs like this, I fill crevices with black wax unless plating is involved.
This client requested custom text on one side of the brace, which was designed in the same font as the HT logo...
3. This next example was designed to go on the same trumpet as the previous Nouveau braces. This is a special New Orleans themed Nouveau Summit Hybrid horn so the elements are varied considerably. This is the man hole cover made popular by rampant thefts in New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina. To design this, I had to convert a photo to curves, then manually edit and remove hundreds of them to make sense of the image. This required a considerable amount of time and would rather not repeat the process.
However, I have done this kind of work so many times that I'm fairly good at it. On my list of "must haves" is a special software program that does most of this with the click of a button. The image to the right shows how messed up this image is when I begin. Below are screen shots of the design added to the Summit SWE tuning slide. This program was incredibly large with more than 148,000 machine points or about 47% larger than the first example. The entire design is only 1.4" in diameter with most letters measuring just 1/16" high. I omitted the smallest text to clean up and simplify the design. This project required approximately 28 hours of design, programming and cutting.
4. Next is the leadpipe and pinky ring of the Nouveau Summit Hybrid. Of course the Saints logo is a necessary element of any New Orleans project! I really wanted this to be prominent on the horn so I made it a full 3/4" thick protruding from both sides of the leadpipe. This design will incorporate three small paua inlays in green, yellow and purple which will be echoed in the finger button inlays. The pinky ring is based on the Nautilus-inspired Nouveau theme from the valve casing braces above. I will be finishing the leadpipe and final assembly (soldering) of this trumpet later today so I'll try to remember to add photos here tomorrow. But if I don't, somebody please remind me ;)