Case Study - When Sound Meets CNC - Aaron Leedham

 

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Meet Aaron Leedham, a specialist craftsman who creates bespoke audio systems for a diverse range of customers. By manipulating materials such as softwood and hardwoods, MDF, acrylics and aluminum Aaron is able to craft modern and minimalist sound systems. The fusion of his passion and knowledge of audio systems with the technology of CNC routing and machining has enabled him to build pieces that are not just aesthetically pleasing but products that are constructed to deliver great sound quality. As Aaron describes his background we learn that he stumbled across CNC routing while researching how to further the creation of his more complex designs.

Before owning my own business I was a stone mason/conservator. I still work in this field but am building a business of my own. I have wanted to produce speakers since using sound in art installations while at college. I wanted to combine my interests in sculpture, design and audio. Designing and developing speaker systems has taken longer than I initially anticipated, but the versatility of CNC has allowed me to make and sell other items which has allowed me to develop and experiment with new ideas.

I discovered CNC when I was researching methods of cutting various materials in a way which would allow me to produce the complicated speaker designs I wanted to create. CNC quickly became the most obvious choice for reasons of versatility, accuracy and affordability.

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Being a relatively new CNC user (even though the work tells otherwise), we asked Aaron what type of machine he uses to create his work, and why he chose to use VCarve Pro?

I currently use a relatively small (1m x 0.5m) hand built CNC machine fitted with a Trend router. I intend to upgrade to a larger machine with a faster more powerful spindle as soon as I have built up sufficient capital. This would greatly increase efficiency and productivity and give me much more scope to design and create a variety of products.

After much searching of the internet and trawling through various sites, blogs and forums dedicated to CNC, I found that Vectric VCarve software was by far the most widely and highly recommended option.

 

 

 

 

 

ImageI trialled other CNC software but none came close to VCarve which offers an incredible range of features and an incredibly intuitive interface which makes it so quick and easy to get to grips with. I found with VCarve that after following the excellent tutorial guides I was able to draw and cut out my first designs almost immediately.

Vectric software has allowed me to design and edit my designs with ease. It has allowed me to produce parts for speakers and complete speakers with speed, accuracy and consistency which allow me to price my products competitively. The software features help me pick up the speed of my projects I think I have probably used most of them by now but some more than others. The mirroring feature is extremely useful and very easy to use. I use this for other purposes not directly related to CNC, too. For example, I use it to draw up cutting lists/plans which I can send to my timber supplier when ordering cut sheet timber. Very quick and easy to figure out how to make best use of material with minimum waste. I think the whole drawing package is excellent, very intuitive and easy to get to grips with.

What is your favourite piece you have created?

Well my first CNC project will always have its pride of place; it was quite a complex black back loaded buschorn speakers design. It took me two weeks in my spare time to make the first pair. I think the fact that, despite jumping in at the deep end with such a complex design, I was actually able to complete the design in a relatively short period of time is a testament to VCarve’s ease of use.

I chose an ambitious project to begin with in order to familiarise myself with both VCarve and Mach3 and the machine itself. It was tough, with quite a few hiccups, but I was pleased with the end result (although the cosmetic finish needs improving). I think this project helped to increase my speed and confidence with the software and the machine and I also have a great sounding pair of speakers, amazing bass response from a tiny 3" driver.

What does the future hold for you and your business?

At the moment I am making crates which I sell online, cutting out names, words and phrases which I supply to a local interiors shop, I make parts for the super tweeter systems I produce and am currently developing the first project – the back loaded horn speakers – into a commercial product. I also have several new designs which are about to go into development and production.

 


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