By Maryann Valentine

We recently interviewed Chris Thompson, the school CNC operator, at Philadelphia University. The University purchased their Techno CNC HD 4896 router 2 years ago, and have transformed their entire Architectural program that is made up of 250 students. Before having their Techno CNC, the students were learning with a lot of hand tools. The students would practice with cardboard lamination by cutting cardboard by hand, and gluing them together. Now, students are learning first hand with a CNC, and they are inspired to rout using all different materials.

The students love to try out different projects with ‘weird’ materials. We use a lot of upholstery foam and rubber cell open foam. But I constantly have the students running up to me with a random piece of material saying, “what can we make with this?” The students are really inspired and dedicated to learning with the router, and to see what they can make with it, also. We recently made a vehicle for a derby bike contest where I routed a bunch of panels to construct the vehicle. I used 4 sheets of coreplast to rout out the panels, and then assembled it. The router made this project so simple! My students were amazed with this project, and it was awesome for me to say, “Hey, now you make this, too!” I explained to them that it was only 5 minutes of using CAD/Cam software,  and these types of personal projects using the Techno CNC HD really inspired them to do these kinds of projects, too. 

The students are learning by using a lot of materials… ranging from coreplaste, to apolustry foam, to MDF and plywood, to styrofoam, to urethane foam (a foam that they can even purchase in their own bookstore). “The vacuum table is really helpful for using materials like these because the vacuum table holds the material in place very nicely. We love the vacuum table. It clamps down on the foam making it super easy to work with. I use G-Wizard CNC Book which is very helpful for the speed of the machine. I save it as a tool library and go as fast as possible. My edge finish is great! The quality of the machine is great!”


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