Making a display piece.

I have a small online company that is taking out an exhibitors booth at a convention here in Boston. I need something to label the booth and make it standout, but I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a traditional display piece!

Here's some of the existing solutions:

The trouble is, everyone gets these, and they're expensive. For my "make something large" project I decided to make large display for Lingt.

The Plan

Use the aluminum to make a cut-out of the letters of company, use the shopbot to create a pocketed copy that would fit right in to the aluminum, and then vinyl cut something to color the letters.
Here my "design". Its lingt in the Futura font at 1650 point font.

Devil in the details...

I made everything in Inkscape, which turned out to be a very big mistake. Even when exporting to DXF, it doesn't seem to play nicely with other programs. The fact that I was using text didn't help either. Initially all of my exports didn't work. Only with the help of the TAs and Rhino was I able to get my dxf exports to actually open in the Waterjet and Shopbot programs. For anyone else using Inkscape, I discovered I need to "break objects into paths" and then "ungroup" for the exported DXFs to work.

Unfortunately, through this conversion process, at some point the letters got shifted and the pocketed MDF did not line up exactly with the aluminum. The letters themselves are the correct size, but the spacing is about 1/4 of an inch off.

Just barely off...but not close enough for me to be able to fix it without taking out a substantial amount of material, destroying the look.

Pausing the waterjet

While waterjetting the aluminum, I had to frequently pause the process to move clamps and pick up pieces. When finished, I noticed this created some strange abrasion on the underside of the aluminum. I'm not exactly sure what's happening here, but I suspect its happening because when the waterjet initially turns on there isn't material to cut.

Even without the aluminum, the pocketed MDF will still make a good display piece once I color the letters.