Latest Technology Produces Historical Typeface For Artwork

ALPHACAM has once again demonstrated its versatility with its recent use in the construction of an artwork. Edward Johnston is widely regarded as one of the fathers of modern calligraphy. To commemorate his life, a unique piece of wooden artwork was created with ALPHACAM and has been installed at a London underground railway station.

Johnston is most famous for designing the sans-serif Johnson typeface that was used throughout the London tube system until 1980s. To mark his overall contribution to the London streetscape, a series of letters cut from stained wood are now on display along a walkway wall at Farringdon station.

The letters were created that way to reflect how they would have been produced for printing purposes on traditional hot metal printing presses. The were designed to look as if they were found in an old store and simply mounted to the wall. In reality, the letters were cut on a CNC router by an internal architectural joinery company. The complex programs for the toolpaths were created in ALPHACAM.

ALPHACAM Area Manager, Andrew Harfield described that there were “in total, there were 27 programs – one for each letter of the alphabet, and one for the capital J, for Johnston.

“Programming the first letter for machining from an imported DXF file took the most time. But when that was done, the machining operations were saved as ALPHACAM Machining Styles, and reused for all the other letters. The bulk of the material was removed using a 16mm diameter cutter, with a 4mm cutter to finish the letters, and finally a 1.5mm dimeter tool for the detail in the letter corners.”

“This detailed machining was done automatically, as ALPHACAM knows where the excess material is, and only machines in these areas, which saves both programming and machining time.”

The manufacturing process was carried out by an ALPHACAM user on their Biesse CNC machine tool. Andrew commented: “The ALPHACAM programs made it such a simple and foolproof operation for them. All they had to do was load the wood on to the machine tool and run the programs. The programs had already been proven out with ALPHACAM’s simulation functionality, so we knew there wouldn’t be any collisions”.

For Australian businesses, this type of artwork and text work is possible with ALPHACAM. Brand Manager for AC Australia, Blake McCrossen explains that using ALPHACAM to create a wide variety of artwork and text pieces is helping expand the capabilities for CNC machines. The combination of CAD Translators and Machining Styles within ALPHACAM to make this type of work within reach of anyone with a CNC.


Artwork image, courtesy of

Key benefits achieved:
Easy finishing, avoiding splinting, by partial machining a complete geometry
Machining Styles cut individual program time from 30 minutes to three minutes
Programs proven out with ALPHACAM’s simulation functionality.

McNEALL Plastics
McNEALL Plastics