Delcam’s ArtCAM helps create the world in miniature

Model of the Mostar Bridge at Miniaturk

Miniature cities of well-known landmarks are becoming increasingly popular, both as tourist attractions and as educational sites for school children.  For the two leading examples in Turkey, Miniaturk in Istanbul and the Minicity in Antalya, two Istanbul companies, Miniature Art and Yon Maket, produce the great majority of the miniatures.  Both use Delcam’s ArtCAM engraving software to create their extremely detailed models.

Miniature Art is the result of owner Nihat Okten’s passion for building models that has existed since he was a child. He produced model buildings by hand for many years, including a 10,000-piece model of Venice that is now on display in the Vatican.

Mr. Okten’s interest in software came from seeing CNC machining during a TV documentary on car production in 1991.  He wondered how the technology could be applied in his work and soon after acquired his first Izel engraving machine.

Although he was pleased with the machine, Mr. Okten was continually disappointed with the software available to program it.  "I tried a lot of different systems but was never satisfied with the results,” remembered Mr. Okten.  "As soon as I saw ArtCAM at a machine tool reseller, I realised that it was what I had been looking for.”

"Even so, this early version, based on design with bit maps, was not powerful enough for some of the work we were doing,” he added.  "However, since the vector-based modelling tools have been added, we can use ArtCAM for even our most complex sculptures.”

The most challenging models are those of mosques and palaces, in particular the complex decorations found around the doors.  Mr. Okten always seeks help from archaeologists and Islamic scholars when finalising the designs to ensure that the reproductions will be as accurate as possible.  Even when using ArtCAM and CNC machining, a door surround can take up to a month to complete.  The time needed for modelling by hand would, of course, be much longer.

More recently, Miniature Art has added rotary machines, especially for the production of model minarets and towers.  The next move will be into five-axis machining, to enable the automation of undercutting operations that currently still need to be done by hand.

Mr. Okten’s long-term plan is to grow to a total of thirty CNC machines of different types.  As well as building more models for Turkish sites, he is keen to develop his international business and has already supplied models to a park in the Netherlands.

Yon Maket was initially established to produce architectural models for Turkey’s booming construction industry.  Although the company had used CNC machines to cut out panels for the models, it had not needed any 3D software until 2002 when it won a contract to build some historical models for Miniaturk. 

It was soon realised that the level of detail in the historical models was far greater than in the modern designs.  Furthermore, there were no exact drawings for the historic buildings.

Fortunately, a recent recruit to Yon Maket had used ArtCAM in his previous company and suggested that it could be used on the contract.  Since then, the software has been used both in the creation of 3D models from sketches and photographs of the original buildings, and in the machining of the detailed parts for the miniatures.

Yon Maket can now make complete models of historical buildings in between one and four months that might have taken decades to produce, depending on their size and complexity.  Even so, the architectural models that continue to make up the majority of the company’s business are still easier to produce with 2D methods as they lack the level of decoration and the design data is readily available. 

Like Miniature Art, Yon Maket is expanding it business internationally and has won projects from Austria and Italy.  It is also planning to increase its range of CNC machines and its use of ArtCAM as part of its future expansion.