Delcam’s ArtCAM used for custom-made castings
W. T. Wilson Inc. based in Rhode Island, USA, has been creating highly-detailed custom pewter castings for wholesale, retail and speciality stores since 1972. However, like any well-established company, it needed to invest in the latest technology to remain competitive and so purchased a four-axis milling machine and Delcam’s ArtCAM artistic CADCAM system.
For over 35 years, W.T. Wilson relied on the accuracy and eye for detail of its designers to hand-engrave its pieces. A pantograph machine would be used to cut aluminium or steel dies manually from hand-engraved plastic templates; both an arduous and time-consuming process.
It became even more convoluted if the customer required any changes or had made miscalculations in the design specification. Either problem would increase both production costs and turnaround time. Peter Birch, Model Maker at W. T. Wilson, commented, "On numerous occasions, our customers had used the wrong size or left out an important component. We needed a way for our customers to approve the 3D design prior to us creating a prototype.”
W. T. Wilson invested in a four-axis CNC milling machine but Mr. Birch soon realised that the software supplied with it was not adequate to design and mill to the company’s specifications. "ArtCAM more than solved the problem,” he said. We can create new, or edit existing, designs and then email them in 3D form to the customer for approval. We can also add reliefs to our 3D library so that they can be used for future projects.”
"We chose ArtCAM not only for its flexibility but also for the dedication of our local reseller, DM Solutions,” remembered Mr. Birch. "An ArtCAM technician from DM drove to our facility, analysed our machine controller and then wrote a custom post-processor to work with our CNC machine. We now run the machine overnight; the software pays for itself while we sleep!”
For advanced projects such as the stage coach, Mr. Birch can build each individual component and then see all of them together, moving and resizing elements where required. "Once I am happy with the design, I can lay the parts inside a block of metal, calculate and simulate the toolpaths, refine them to a desired finish and also calculate the machining time,” he explained. "This gives me a much more accurate estimate of the cost.”
"Another great tool from ArtCAM is the material weight calculator,” he added. "With a large model, being able to calculate the combined weight of the castings allows me to scale the model to get it within our costumers’ price point.”