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A combination of Autodesk’s Maya design software, Delcam’s PowerMILL Robot programming system and a KUKA robot is allowing special-effects company Artem, to bring projects to life.

According to Artem chief executive officer Mike Kelt, the company gets involved in all sorts of technology — the most recent being robot machining and 3D printing. He added that much more is done on a computer now.

He said: ‘One of the challenges is dealing with clients who aren’t entirely sure what they want, so you have to tell them what you think they want and get them to approve things. If you can do the design on a computer with Maya and send them an image that’s rendered, then they can go “yeah that’s it”, and we can carry on with the design and manufacturing process.’

Click on the link above to download the PowerMILL Robot brochure.

Development process

  • Artem modelmaker Jim Bones explained: ‘My main job is to pose the figure. I sit down with the sculptor and we’ll tweak everything to get it all in the right positions. Importing a RIG model on Maya is a massive advantage as it comes with all these handles. I can just grab them and pose every little bit of the model. It’s all very easy to use.’
  • Andrew Freeman, digital sculpture and CNC supervisor, continued: ‘We often start with the photograph and position the Maya RIG model to look like the photograph. Then we can export the model from Maya into another software, a sculpting package, that’s going to allow us to fine-tune the model, add on the clothing, change the muscles to give the look that the client wants. Once the design has been approved, we can start chopping the pieces up and putting them into the Delcam software to prepare them for cutting on the robot.’
  • The programs for the robot are developed by design engineer Ken White. ‘We import the part designs into PowerMILL Robot as a series of STL files,’ he said. ‘For each element, we create roughing and finishing passes, which we then simulate to see how they machine. Once I am happy, the toolpaths are output as G-code to the KUKA robot for machining.’
  • As they are using STL files, creating boundaries is very important to be able to get to certain areas of the model, according to White. He explained that the robot allows them to machine very large pieces, so keeping the number of parts to as few as possible. ‘We are able to use the software to see how the robot is going to cut the material and to see the finish we are going to get, while the software also lets us see how the robot will react in the cell and make sure that it is not going to do something silly.’

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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