CNC Introductory Project – Giant Quarter

Brett Peterson and I teamed up to design a project in order to get accustomed to using the floor’s CNC router. Since the aim was more to learn how to use the CNC than to create a polished, finished product, we decided to have fun with it and create a giant piece of money and a tiny vending machine. We designed the front and back faces of the quarter in Illustrator. Since the faces of a quarter have a lot of detail that would’ve been time-prohibitive to reproduce, we opted for a simplified but still recognizable design. For the front face, we found some simple cartoon art, traced over it, cleaned it up, and modified a few details. We couldn’t find a suitable pre-existing artwork for the back face, so Brett traced the essentials from an actual picture of a quarter. I also designed a basic 3D model of a vending machine using Sketchup.

Here are some pictures of the designs:


We brought these designs into MasterCam with the intention of having the designs, letters, and rim raised 1/4″ over the blank spaces of the quarter. Because we had to cut out a lot of blank space, the job was slated to take multiple hours – since we only had 2 hours reserved, we were only able to cut out the silhouettes of the front side. We used plywood, and some chipping occured; we hope to make a more complete version out of MDF sometime in the future. Also, we think that 3-D printing the vending machine may be a better call than CNCing it – the 1/4″ tolerance of the CNC bits would make the vending machine turn out larger than we’d want.

Here are some pictures:


And here is some video footage of the CNC cutting out the lettered areas and doing a second pass on the head silhouette.

(Warning: Make sure your volume’s not turned to maximum – CNCs are quite noisy)

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