We were contacted by an event organiser Artichoke and artist David Best to see if we would be interested in machining a number of birch plywood sheets into patterns, of course we said yes as we cut birch plywood all the time on our CNC routers so it was no big deal or so we thought at the time it was only when I got the final specifications did we realise the sheer scale of this project and the tight deadlines needed to complete it. The icing on the cake was when David said the Temple was going to be burnt to the ground once it was built, all that work and money would go up in smoke I laughed and thought OK, but then David discussed the history behind it with me and I thought was this is a good idea or not, the idea is a simply one you write down all your bad feelings or bad things that may have happened to you or your family anything that gives you problems and worries, you place them in this temple and light the whole thing, this Is meant to burn your troubles away I thought about this and said sure whatever helps people release stress from their life or give them some sort of closure on bad things that may have happened to them is only a good thing, plus with us living in Northern Ireland burning and destroying things and is right up our street especially with all the troubles over the years, so I thought this was quite fitting and something I wanted Trade Made to be involved with. So I told David and Artichoke we would sort it all out we could do everything they needed done and we would beat the time scale they were requesting.
The job requirements
We were given a list of criteria we had to meet some of which I have listed below
We had to source the 320no. 8×4 sheets all in 12 mm birch plywood
We had to machine all the patterns-components
No splintered edge, all components must have a clean edge sharp free edge
The required deadline
We had to delivery all finished parts to the main assembly area in Londonderry
We had to keep all drop out pieces for fill in parts
Each one of these points had its own problem for example getting 8 pallets of 12mm birch is very hard to do it's the hardest to get in all the birch plywood range, we eventually had to get it shipped directly from a manufacture in Denmark to meet the deadline for manufacture
The patterns / artwork was one of the biggest problems we had 16no. main designs to do all in a certain amount of quantity, when the artwork was supplied to us via a cutting list with Autocad DXF Files it was a complete mess we spent a lot of time fixing it up so it could be machined there was crossed lines open point vectors, single lines vectors all details CNC routers don't like, in fact most of these will not allow a CNC router to machine that part, anyway we spent a lot of time picking through each design and sorting them out. The main issue was the sheer volume of parts per sheet some sheets had well over 1500 pieces per 8×4 sheet keeping these parts in place without moving and breaking plus leaving no clean up afterwards was very taxing and time consuming, we basically had to pin the main or largest parts and machine all the small sections first, once all the small sections where cut we machine the main or largest parts and then removed the staples, the machine cutting order was very important to keep the quality of cut if we had not had spent time sorting out the artwork and cutting order we would never had kept the quality, so this is a major part which takes years of experience to know exactly which way is best for a CNC router. Lucky we have 20 years of experience in this field so we know exactly what to do to achieve a high quality finish.
The next problem was keeping a high quality splinter free cut edge, we had to supply splinter free components so people did not cut themselves on the part when fitting them together this in a normal jobs is no issue as you simply use a special compression tool which compresses the wood fibre so it does not lift the problem with these tools is they can be expensive and can be quite weak when pushed hard also they must cut in a certain direction to maintain a clean splinter free edge but when you are dealing with over 400,000 separate cuts as this job required tooling does not last long and breaks very easily when the tool is hot or gets blunt so we sent for some special tools from America which really help the production of this job.
The deadline was always a major concern we only had 3 months to produce all the panels and components a total of 400,000 odd cuts and panels we have 3 CNC router all 8×4 size and bigger even with all the CNC machines working on this project 8 hours and day 7 days a week we would not have meet the deadline some of the panels where taking over 3-4 hours to cut so the maths did not stack up to meet the time scale, so we had to double production we done this by double stacking the sheets being cut so essential we were machining 2 sheets for time it took to cut 1, i.e 2 sheets of 12mm equals 1 sheet of 24mm but this is not for the faint hearted it creates a host of problems we have done this many times in the past but not at this volume of components so we had many issues to overcome but we sorted it and it was a great success in fact it was the reason why the project was finished ahead of schedule.
David asked us to keep all the small pieces or drop out as he calls them these came from the inside the panels normally these are waste in any other job but he request them for use in building the temple anyway it would save us cost in disposing them so that was not a problem what we did not except was the shear amount of them we had to keep them in the sheet without moving but we had to leave it easy to remove them afterwards without any secondary clean up like removing holding tabs as this would have held up production another problem we had to sort every second counted on this job the CNC machines had to be running 24 hours so once one sheet was finished it needed to be removed as quickly as possible and the next one started, not so easy when the sheet is in a thousand pieces.
Delivery was simple with no problems here we just pelleted the main panels and sent the drop out pieces in a large custom made pallet, all were delivered in batches as and when David requested them so no issue here.
The project in whole was very good but quite stressing at times but we meet all the deadlines with time to spare which is always a good thing, lucky here at trade made we have never missed a deadline something we are very proud off, I would just like to thank David Best and everyone else involved with the project for the chance to take part in this plus I would like to send a message to David for the kind remarks he said to me he has had panels made all over the world and mine where the best he has ever received in 15 years of making these temples which I thought was very kind he also said the next one he was doing he wanted trade made to make all the panels again also something I thought was really nice so thanks David for those kind remarks.