Delcam’s ArtCAM helps Aitkens Pewter to exceed customer expectations
"When potential customers come to us with a photograph they would like to duplicate in 3D or when someone in our company has an idea for a complicated product, I am confident I can produce a design with ArtCAM that will meet or exceed their expectations,” claims Pierre-Luc Arseneau, Designer for Aitkens Pewter.
"ArtCAM has played a major role in our success by enabling us to design and build complex 3D models that allow us to create new products that fill market demands,” continued Mr. Arseneau. "It has helped us develop a new generation of more realistic, more finely detailed and visually appealing products that have substantially expanded our business.”
Aitkens Pewter started in 1972 when Martin Aitken, then 17, set up his own shop. In the early years, the company concentrated on making 2D products but, around the turn of the century, it decided to expand into 3D. ArtCAM, the artistic CADCAM software from Delcam, was selected as Aitkens’ primary software to design patterns and provide CNC programs for patternmaking, because it enabled quick and efficient creation of manufacturable 3D models from 2D images and artwork.
"We have been making 3D products ever since and 3D has in fact grown to make up the lion’s share of our business,” Mr. Arseneau said. The company, based in Fredericton, Canada, has now grown to the point where it has three studio stores and a thriving online business.
Designing a new standard or custom 3D product typically begins with 2D artwork, such as a photograph or rendering, or a simple sketch of a product idea. Mr. Arseneau imports the 2D artwork into ArtCAM, where his first task is to convert the flat 2D file into an eye-grabbing 3D image.
He typically begins by creating a cross-section of the prospective 3D part. "ArtCAM makes it easy to develop cross-sections by giving me the ability to move back and forth between the 2D and the 3D images,” Mr. Arseneau explained. The next step is extruding the cross-section to begin forming the 3D image, frequently using the two-rail extrude feature. Alternatively, if the initial artwork is a photograph, Mr. Arseneau often uses ArtCAM’s bitmap-to-vector feature to automatically convert the photograph to a 2D vector image that he then extrudes to create the 3D image.
An example of the complex products the company has produced with ArtCAM is a model of a Canadian Leopard tank. Mr. Arseneau obtained a 3D STL format model of the tank and brought it into ArtCAM. He created vector surfaces to match the external geometry of the tank and then separated the model into the individual components needed to enable moving parts on the finished model and to account for limitations of the CNC machines.
For example, the turret of the tank is a separate assembly, consisting of eight pieces, so it can swivel around the base. It was designed using ArtCAM’s project-assembly window, which allows users to design parts individually and then combine them to see how they fit together. Finally, he arranged the eight pieces so they could be produced in a single moulding operation, removed from the mould and glued together.
12 March 2012