Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Toy at Interlochen

This summer at Interlochen Center for the Arts, in Northern Michigan, I've been re-hired to be the Studio Tech for the Visual Arts Building. I was brought in a week early of school starting to prepare the studios. Another task that fell on me was to put together a brand spanking new Lincoln Torchmate 2x4. It's a CNC router and plasma torch that can cut any design into most common metals, wood, and even vinyl. This is a fabricator's dream come true. 

I have zero experience working with one of these machines and was a little daunted by the task of constructing this expensive piece of equipment. I do have experience working with a handheld plasma torch and I once had a job programming a giant giant CNC milling machine. So I guess that's close enough.

My fellow ECU alumni Aaron Earley was hired as a studio assistant for the Metalsmithing Studio and he was willing to lend a hand putting together the table with me.
Aaron turning a screw. 

I found an old table to put the plasma cutter and laptop on. I'm still trying to figure out a neat way to put away all the wires and the controller box.
Cutting into rusty 1/8 steel.

I'm very excited because today I was able to make the first accurate cuts! Yesterday it had been cutting everything "squished" and Sebastian (my awesome studio assistant) sat down and figured out that the drive parameters needed to be tweaked. It seems to have worked.

5/16" thick star. Like butter!

It took me about 10 days to put it all together, read the five manuals, make a CAD design, and problem-solve. This is including doing all my other tasks to prepare all the other studios.

Next I'll figure out how to use it as a teaching tool. What should I have my sculpture students make with it?  They JUST learned how to arc weld, use a grinder, gas weld, and plasma cut. Now this is gonna blow their minds....mine is pretty blown.
All and all putting this machine together was fairly easy. The directions were simple and the tech guys answered the phone, were nice, and were very helpful. Torchmate even replied to one of my tweets, which is pretty dorky cool.

I'll do more updates later about what we make with this thing.

I'm really freaking excited about this!!!


  1. So impressive. I can only imagine how fabulous it would be to make stuff with this. You did a good job. It is going to be hard to leave that job and go back home!

  2. DANG! They are so lucky to have you there, that is pretty awesome. I'm so jealous. Keep on blowin' their minds Andistani!! miss ya here ;-(