Machining Decorative Metal Parts with MeshCAM

Art Metal Inc, http://www.artmetalinc.com , is a metal fabrication shop that specializes in high-end custom work. Over several decades they've developed a reputation for being the people to talk to in Southern California if you've got a difficult project.

Recently Art Metal was approached by a designer to fabricate a railing combining glass and decorative steel pieces. Almost all of the decorative pieces were available off the shelf but one required a custom casting. The designer faxed a quick 2D pencil sketch to show what they were thinking. It included no dimensions and came without a 3D view. Although they could have designed the model in a traditional CAD package it would have taken time to complete and changes would be difficult.
Luckily, Art Metal was able to skip traditional CAD and use MeshCAM Art. MeshCAM Art is unique in it's ability to take simple, flat images and build complex 3D reliefs without any CAD program. The first step was to generate clean artwork from the faxed image. For this task they used Xara, http://www.xara.com, a vector drawing program. The artwork was tweaked to make it more symmetrical and to make the stem suitable for welding to the round bar that supports it.
Although the artwork above was done well, it did require several changes to get the shape right in 3D. This included things like the tapered stem so that it would blend better into the body of the flower. Because MeshCAM Art keeps a full history of the steps to create the 3D part, it's simple to change the image and then click "Rebuild" to update the 3D part. This is one of the most powerful features in MeshCAM Art- it allows rapid iteration without wasted effort.

After the designer approved the model based on a MeshCAM Art screen shot a wood pattern was milled on Art Metals CNC mill. The toolpaths were a simple task using the CAM functionality built into MeshCAM Art. The foundry took the wood pattern and cast nearly a hundred pieces. The images below show the completed railing after installation.

Overall the process went smoothly and one part of the job that could have been difficult became one of the easiest.