Like many keen, experienced amateur artists, Martin Long loves to experiment with materials and form.
Having designed and built a studio at home so he could focus on his hobby outside his day job of managing director of a marketing firm, he wanted to branch out from his usual stone carving and clay work.
Martin had always liked the idea of creating metal sculptures and is intrigued by metal products - particularly upcycled ones such as furniture created from old aeroplanes and cars - but he never thought it was something he would be able to make in a home studio because the equipment was too big and too expensive.
Then he was introduced to the Swifty, a new bench-top plasma-cutting machine from Burton-on-Trent-based Swift-Cut Automation, a leading manufacturer of CNC cutting machines for engineering and industrial applications.
“This piece of kit immediately piqued my interest,” says Martin. “Not only was the cutting table small enough to fit into my studio, the price point was good for a hobby artist like me. I was really keen to try it out and see what I could do with it.”
While Martin has excellent graphic design skills and can create vector files, he had never worked with a CNC machine or any metal-cutting machinery.
However, the simple set-up of the Swifty and straightforward instructions meant that the Tunbridge Wells-based amateur sculptor was soon up and running.
He said: “It was so exciting to unwrap the box but it was also a little daunting because I was worried it would be difficult to put together. I was very pleasantly surprised, though, because it comes complete. There’s just enough DIY in the assembly to make you feel like you’re really getting an engineering experience, but it was really easy - I couldn’t believe it. I’d never used a compressor before and that was also straightforward. It was set up in no time.”
Martin also found the software easy to use, quickly importing his designs from Illustrator into the Swifty software.
The first product he made using the Swifty was a sign for his studio.
“The finished product was brilliant, so much quicker to cut than I thought it was going to be,” said Martin. “There was very little cleaning up to do and I was happy with the finished product. It really gave me the confidence to think about how I could use the Swifty in future. I’ve already made a trivet and now I’m looking at creating small tin robot sculptures. I’m very excited by the potential of the Swifty - the only limitation is my imagination.”
His only concern about using the Swifty in a wood studio was quickly assuaged because the safety guard contained fumes and sparks.
“Now I have the Swifty I am looking forward to developing new art skills and creating new products out of metal, which is just what I wanted to do,” added Martin.
The Swifty measures just 113cm depth by 98cm wide and has a cutting area of 61cm by 61 cm. It is lightweight at about 75kg in weight, making it the ideal piece of machinery for any workshop, and is engineered to the same high standards as Swift-Cut Automation’s larger machinery.
The impressive piece of machinery, which comes with a one-year warranty, has myriad potential uses for hobbyists, vehicle restorers and artists who work in metal - from manufacturing metal parts and recreating discontinued or hard-to-find parts to creating metal signage and producing unique artwork.