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Five-axis machining with Delcam’s PowerMILL supports fine art casting


Since buying PowerMILL, Walla Walla Foundry has moved into five-axis machining

At Walla Walla Foundry, Delcam’s software is part of a commitment to the technical advancing of fine art casting.  By combining Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM system and five-axis machining with the company’s expertise in producing contemporary sculpture, Walla Walla Foundry offers a unique service to its artist clients.

Mark Anderson founded the Walla Walla Foundry in Walla Walla, Washington in 1980, specifically to provide casting services to support both his endeavours and those of his fellow local artists.   During his time at Whitman College studying for a Studio Art Degree, he had met several artists who needed castings so he spent the summer setting up a small foundry in a garage shop to help his fellow artists.  The company experienced early success as a result of its great quality of casting, word spread and some major artists began placing projects.

In 1999, Dylan Farnum, who is now the company’s President, joined Walla Walla Foundry and began taking the CNC department from CNC milling of just castings to full five-axis machining of detailed art pieces.  He remembered that a pivotal moment in the company’s decision over its software supplier came when a valued customer told him, "If you don’t get Delcam software you will be lost!  Pure and simple!”

"PowerMILL changed everything,” continued Mr. Farnum.  "When we started using the Delcam software for the first time, in comparison with the old software we were using, it was like a big light going on.  PowerMILL opened up a whole new world for us.  We were faster and better at what we were doing, and ended up buying two new five-axis machines to expand our milling capabilities.”

Aaron Hamilton in the engineering department at Walla Walla Foundry started using Delcam software about a year ago and says he loves it.  "I prefer it over any other software I have ever used,” he commented.  "The menus are laid out better, it’s easier to work through problem areas on a model, it’s more visual to me and the help menus are absolutely great.  I can also modify any toolpath on the fly and that puts me in control when I need to be in control.  Set-up is really a breeze with PowerMILL.  It just really works well for us.”

Jon Marc Kortsh, Engineering Manager added, "When you are working with someone else’s art and you are in charge of replicating it exactly as the artist intended, it is so important to be able to modify a nuance you perceive, or that the artist perceives, as important.  We work with complex models and we feel guaranteed of zero collisions with PowerMILL.  We have the confidence that we can go home and run lights out, with no fear of coming back to work in the morning to find a big mess.” 

"With what we do, almost every single part has never been run before and generally we run only one part,” he continued.  "We almost never have the opportunity to re-run parts so all of our time is spent trying to program perfection into the manufacturing process.  It cannot crash.  Just one crash could mean many thousands of lost dollars.  If the PowerMILL software said it would run without a collision, it ran perfectly and has never had a crash or collision.  We have the utmost faith in our Delcam software.”

"Also, the postprocessor support we get from Delcam is phenomenal and it allows us to continue to run our many different machines.  Delcam’s Technical representative, Randy Twiddy, the Senior Applications Engineer out of Windsor Ontario, has been so great to work with and such a great resource for us.  If we need a postprocessor change, we get it really fast.”

06 August 2014