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  • Delcam wins “Best-in-Class” award from Royal Canadian Mint

Delcam wins “Best-in-Class” award from Royal Canadian Mint


ArtCAM Pro was used by the Royal Canadian Mint to create this Pope John Paul II coin

Delcam is pleased to announce that it has been awarded the "Best in Class for Providing Goods or Services to the Royal Canadian Mint in 2005” in recognition of the benefits gained by the Mint from the use of the company’s ArtCAM Pro engraving software for coin design and manufacture.

The Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) produces circulation coins for Canada as well as for many other countries. In addition to circulation coins, the RCM manufactures numismatics, medals, tokens and other related products.  It also has one of the most advanced gold bullion refineries in the world.

As one of the most innovative mints, the RCM is always looking for ways to further enhance its technologies.  Eight years ago, the RCM made the decision to integrate digital technology into its engraving department. The Corporation purchased ArtCAM Pro, a 3D digital scanner and two high quality CNC engraving centres.  The next step was to train staff on the new technology in order for them to incorporate it into the engraving process.  The engravers were able to use the new digital tools in conjunction with traditional methods.  Recently, a new generation of apprentice engravers have joined the team and, while they are being trained like traditional apprentices, there is also an emphasis on developing their computer skills.

The traditional process for producing a coin die begins with the artist’s design.  At the RCM, many design ideas originate directly from the engravers.  The artwork is hand-carved into a plaster disc approximately 200mm (8 inches) in diameter.  Previous to the introduction of computer technology, the entire coin design including the lettering, the beading and the artwork were part of this process.  The next step was to duplicate the design in metal, at the size of the finished coin, by using a special reducing machine.  This replica was used to make the final tooling.

Initially, ArtCAM Pro and other new technologies were used as a direct replacement for the reduction part of the process.  This was done by digitizing the model, applying the software and finishing with the CNC machine.  Having the design as a virtual model has benefits in allowing easy editing of the coin’s lettering, dates and values.  Being able to change the size of common elements to fit any size is another benefit of the digital process.  A typical use of this technology is scaling the relief portrait of Queen Elizabeth II to use on all sizes of Canadian coins.

The use of ArtCAM Pro at the RCM varies according to the engraver’s experience and how they combine it with their traditional sculpting skills.  Some projects are done completely digitally, which includes the modelling, sculpting and finishing in ArtCAM Pro.  Other designs may be hand-carved then modified slightly with the software.  A key benefit is being able to pick the most suitable combination to efficiently produce a beautiful product.

The engravers appreciate the fact they can use the software to edit their designs, either by enhancing an area of the design or by simply cleaning a blemish from the original model.  Another common benefit to the engravers is using the software to add small details or mechanical shapes.  Small details can be a challenge to accurately hand-carve but, on the computer, they can be precisely drawn and easily incorporated into the relief. 

Two examples of this are the 2005 Pope John Paul II coin and the 2005 Battle of the Atlantic coin.  Both of these coins were hand-sculpted but the intricate details such as the Pope’s robe and the rigging and masts on the ship were added using ArtCAM Pro.

ArtCAM Pro’s versatility with 3D data can be utilized in a number of ways.  The interactive sculpting tools are heavily used to edit designs and to achieve an organic look even when working on projects completely within the software.  The fact that the relief can be duplicated, distorted and scaled is also important.  In some cases, this allows just a few elements to be hand-carved and then manipulated in ArtCAM Pro to create a finished design.

The newly issued Daisy coin was created with this method, allowing a few modelled pieces to be duplicated and distorted to generate the complete relief model.  The precise control in ArtCAM Pro is very practical, because the depth of the relief in different areas of the design can be crucial to achieving a well struck coin.  ArtCAM Pro can also manipulate depths on any part of the design; if a change is required after the test parts are struck, this can be done easily.

One way the RCM has achieved maximum benefit from this technology is continued investment in education and training, remaining current with the latest versions of the software and looking for new ways to push ArtCAM Pro’s limits and what it can do.

The RCM’s integration of ArtCAM Pro has allowed them to increase the number of high quality designs produced each year.  It has also helped the Corporation to create unique and innovative products like the world’s first coloured circulation coin in 2004.  ArtCAM Pro is an important part of this success story.  One of the engravers summed it up by saying, "ArtCAM Pro has been a tremendous tool to improve our work and create an ideal end product.  It’s easy to use and also a logical system.  No one here has any second thoughts about the use of the software and its benefits.”

For examples of the Royal Canadian Mint’s work, please visit www.mint.ca .

To find out more about how the Royal Canadian Mint uses Delcam's software, go to http://www.delcam.tv/delcam-video.asp?VideoId=46