Delcam’s ArtCAM Express used to create Moon Beam Mandolins
Moon Beam Mandolins uses Delcam’s ArtCAM Express artistic CADCAM software in almost every stage of the design and manufacturing process of its mandolins and other stringed instruments, from the initial phase of creating the overall shape to the development of sound holes and decorative inlays for the headstocks, and even making the jigs to hold the pieces in place while they cool.
The company started thirteen years ago in the Ozark Hills of Missouri, when owner Glenn Robertson was in desperate need of a professional-quality instrument while studying how to play the mandolin at the College of the Ozarks. "My parents wanted to help out, but couldn’t afford the price of a fine musical instrument,” recalled Mr. Robertson. "With my limited carpentry experience and my father’s familiarity with woodworking skills, plus many hours of work and study, the first Moon Beam Mandolin was created.”
Soon after starting Moon Beam Mandolins in partnership with his wife Bobbie, Mr. Robertson decided to enter into the realm of CNC machining and purchased his first machine to rough out some of the pieces of the instruments. Then, the partners began looking for a program that could convert bitmap files to vectors. "When we received information about ArtCAM Express and its features, we were really excited,” remembered Mr. Robertson. "The deciding factor was the price. It was so affordable that we could not refuse.”
"Assembling mandolins, with their drastic curves and small pieces, can prove to be very trying, making precision an absolute must,” explained Mr. Robertson. "This makes it crucial to have accurate jigs and side blocks to hold the musical instrument together. By using ArtCAM Express, we get a perfect fit every time.”
Another benefit is that ArtCAM Express allows parts from previous projects to be used as a starting point to generate new, unique instruments. Mr. Robertson believes that, "When designing a new instrument, a learning curve is required but the process seems effortless with ArtCAM Express. Once the toolpaths are created and pieces are cut, we can rely on the accuracy of the software.”
For all of Moon Beam Mandolins’ pieces, the partners inlay their logo into the headstock of the instrument. ArtCAM Express has completely changed the way they approach the inlay process. "In the past, we always used pearl inlay in our headstocks, but with ArtCAM Express we have derived a simple way to use wood instead,” said Mr. Robertson. "We can take a picture of our logo and make usable vectors at the push of a button. The pieces are mirrored and offset slightly. The software means we don’t have to use any filler. The pieces fit so precisely that we just need a dab of glue.”
With the aid of ArtCAM Express, Moon Beam Mandolins has broadened its range to include a greater variety of mandolin styles and other string instruments, as well as accepting custom orders. These instruments are also created in ArtCAM Express and hand-tuned and graduated with precise detail. The emphasis on quality shows they are all built for musicians by musicians.