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Delcam’s PowerMILL enables five-axis machining at Golden Era

Using PowerMILL and the five-axis DMS CNC router allows Golden Era to machine complex designs in hours rather than days

Adding a five-axis DMS CNC router programmed with Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM system for five-axis machining has made it possible for film and events company, Golden Era Productions, to produce sets and props as big as ten feet by five feet by four feet in a single set-up, even when the pieces include complex, highly-detailed 3D surfaces.

"With PowerMILL, we are able to make things that in the past we would have had to carve by hand or in a multitude of laborious steps,” said Ron Sommerville, Sets Chief for Golden Era Productions. "Projects that would have taken days before now take only hours with PowerMILL.”

Golden Era Productions, based in Gilman Hot Springs, California, produces religious film, video and television programmes, and organises events. These productions require considerable numbers of sets and props, primarily made from foam and wood, which must be produced to high levels of detail and accuracy.

For example, the organisation recently produced a film shot in the studio of an artist who is working on a partially finished sculpture. The sculpture could not be produced on the previous 2.5D router because of its size and complexity. Hand carving would have taken a considerable amount of time and would not have provided the desired level of detail and accuracy, while subcontracting the job to a local machining operation would have been expensive and would have involved significant delays.

Mr. Sommerville had previously undertaken a search for computer software and a machine that would enable the organisation to produce a full range of contoured 3D parts for use as props and in sets. He selected a DMS 5-axis CNC router because of its ability to produce large wood and foam parts at a price that is much lower than a conventional machining centre with the same capabilities.

"DMS recommended PowerMILL because it is very easy to learn and use, yet provides the ability to take full advantage of the potential of five-axis machining,” Mr. Sommerville remembered.

Like most art departments, Golden Era Productions has a number of different software programs that they use in different stages of a design or for different types of jobs. Typically, 3D designs are created in 3D Studio Max. If final tweaks need to be produced for modelling, the designs can be imported into other programs, including Delcam’s artistic CADCAM software, ArtCAM.

"ArtCAM has powerful features for creating text and 2D and 3D designs, and can also generate toolpaths,” said Mr. Sommerville. "We have used ArtCAM for over a decade and are very happy with the service and support that we get from Delcam’s local office in California.”

"When we started getting into more complex parts, we felt we needed something that would support five-axis machining. The switch to PowerMILL was easy as both systems are from the same company.”

"With PowerMILL, we can make a physical representation of anything we can imagine,” Mr. Sommerville concluded. "This capability has helped our creative process take a huge leap forward. Now the challenge is to see how creative we can be, as the software can literally do anything we can dream up, and with speed and quality.”

29 November 2012

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