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Delcam software used by Bowes to develop Airbus cabin interiors


Some of the aircraft interiors developed by Bowes with Delcam software

Delcam’s CADCAM software has been used by Bowes Design and Development in most projects it has undertaken for the last 15 years, including two projects within the development of the cabin interiors for the Airbus A380.  The first project was to develop a concept interior; the second to manufacture replica cabin linings for climate-control testing.

The interior project, which was undertaken in association with a team of design consultants, involved the development of the complete cabin, including the seating, lighting and a bar, within 20 weeks.  To complete the work to deadline, the cabin was divided into a number of sections that were manufactured, checked and finished with the Delcam software before being shipped to Toulouse for assembly.

The cabin linings had to be delivered to the Airbus engineering division in Hamburg with an even shorter deadline of 16 weeks.  Unlike mock-ups for sales and marketing, the engineering prototypes had to perform under real-life conditions and be subjected to the full range of environmental conditions that could be experienced in the cabin.  The replica cabin met and exceeded customer expectations, in both temperature and humidity testing, and so provided an important contribution to the development of the A380.

While this type of work may provide some of Bowes’ most high-profile projects, it only makes up half of the company’s business.  The remainder comes from the automotive, marine and other industries.  The range of processes used is equally diverse, including direct machining, reaction injection moulding, vacuum casting, resin transfer moulding, thermoforming, and carbon fibre-reinforced plastics moulding and hand lay-up.

This diversity is an important part of the company’s success according to Director Dave Thompson.  "Most of our clients provide a CAD model that needs to be turned into a physical prototype,” he explained.  "With our range of processes, we can choose the route that is most cost-effective and that will also meet the customer’s quality requirements.”

To provide all these services, Bowes has thirteen CNC machines, six of which are five-axis.  These are used to give a very fast, accurate turn around.  The largest is a CMS router that is 4.8 x 2.4 x 1.2 metres.  "We use the different machines for different materials and applications,” said Mr. Thompson.  "For example, our newest piece of equipment is a DMG DMU 100 that we chose for machining aluminium injection moulds for short-run production.  This is a growing part of our business and the results from the new machine have been very impressive.”

In contrast, in its18 years of using CADCAM, Bowes has always stuck with Delcam software.  The company now uses the PowerSHAPE modelling software to design all its different types of tooling from the CAD models supplied by its customers.  Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM system is used for all the machining, whether it is the direct production of finished parts or the manufacture of tooling.  Similarly, all inspection is carried out with the PowerINSPECT inspection software, both on a conventional coordinate measuring machine and on a portable FARO inspection arm.

Paul Beckett, who has been using the Delcam software for fifteen years and is now Managing Director, said "Delcam is established as the leading system for toolmaking and cutter-path generation.  Now it is even more dominant.  Our Delcam software always does the job.  It is extremely flexible, which is essential for our variety of processes, and gets faster with every release, which we need when customers want projects completed the day before they place the order.  Over the years, we’ve looked at other systems but we’ve never felt any need to change from Delcam.”