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Delcam’s design and manufacturing software was used by Mindshift to create a futuristic gun for the science-fiction film I, Robot.

Mindshift, a Vancouver-based division of CSL Plastics, specialises in set and prop fabrication.

While the props for a film make up only a very small part of the budget, any delays in their delivery can significantly increase filming costs.

The Delcam software takes projects from sketch to finished products in a week or so, to meet the tight deadlines and the high visual requirements of the industry.

For I, Robot, Mindshift was given the challenge of creating a functioning gun to match the futuristic sketches produced by the film’s creative team.

The team started the project by having a local gunsmith strip down a real Smith and Wesson 22 calibre revolver to provide the basis for the internal design of the gun.

Delcam’s Powershape design software was then used to add the complex curves smoothly flowing into each other that give the gun its futuristic look.

Powershape is ideal for this type of work because lets the user tweak a surface until it is just right.

The gun was unusual for a film prop because the internal surfaces were just as critical as the exterior surfaces.

It had to shoot blanks during filming and the interior surfaces needed to be streamlined to enable the gases to escape without causing damage that might weaken the gun and put the actors in danger.

To ensure against this possibility, the initial gun design was fired and then X-rayed to check for metal fatigue.

These tests showed that in several areas the corner radii were too small to withstand the pressure exerted by the escape gases.

With Powershape, the interior curved surfaces could be adjusted to solve the problem.

Once the client had signed off on the 3D model of the gun, the design was sent over to Delcam’s Powermill CAM system.

The biggest challenge was to produce the gun grip, which was made out of Delrin, a high-end plastic that machines like a dense nylon.

This material doesn’t sand very well, so a very smooth finish had to be created during machining.

This was achieved with a combination of offset area clearance and interleaved constant-Z finishing, plus a final rest finishing path to clean out the finer details.

Delcam supplies software and services that help manufacturing companies to maximise their profitability by increasing productivity, improving quality and reducing lead times. The company is the world's largest specialist supplier of computer-aided machining software, with its PowerMILL, FeatureCAM, Partmaker and ArtCAM programs making up the most comprehensive range of CAM systems from any developer.

This broad selection allows Delcam to offer a CAM system capable of machining virtually any product, in any material on any type of equipment. Delcam also develops product design, tooling design and quality control programs. The unique Tribrid Modelling approach to design incorporates solid modelling, surface modelling and triangle modelling in a single program, enabling complete design and reverse engineering projects to be undertaken without transferring data between software.

Delcam's Powerinspect offers fast, reliable comparison of parts, prototypes and tooling against CAD data on all types of inspection equipment and even on machine tools. This versatility has made it the world's leading hardware-independent inspection software. Related programs are available for checking machine tool set-up and part location. Delcam software is used in over 80 countries worldwide by around 40,000 organisations, from large multi-nationals to small sub-contractors, in industries including aerospace, automotive, dental, engineering, footwear, medical and toolmaking.

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