For over 30 years Adirondack Studios has helped to design and build themed environments for theatres, arenas, exhibit halls, ballrooms, parks, restaurants, malls, casinos, amusement parks, supermarkets, museums, stadiums, main streets and marinas. About a year ago, the company began using ArtCAM to program computer numerical control (CNC) machinery used to produce the majority of the company's products.

Adirondack Chandelier

ArtCAM's unique ability to create 3D relief directly from a bitmap image and its automatic weave generator helped Adirondack Studios build five 10 foot diameter, 2 foot high bowl-type chandeliers for the Mohegan Sun Casino at Pocono Downs (Pennsylvania) with flying grouse and bird's nests arrayed in 3D around the exterior. ArtCAM's tiling engine also played a key role in the creation of the 35 foot tall and 35 foot wide rendition of Krusty the Clown which forms the entrance to The Simpsons exhibit at Universal Park in Orlando.

While Adirondack Studios is best known for showpiece creations such as the ones shown here, 80% of the pieces produced by the company's CNC machine are actually 2D shapes that are used for interior framing. "The software that we used in the past for CNC programming worked fine for routine jobs but many of the projects that we get involved in are far out of the ordinary," said Bob Gregory, Senior Router Operator for Adirondack Studios, Argyle, New York. "We spent too much time watching the hourglass and ran into quite a few bugs. The software developer was not as responsive as we wished when we called in for support."

We had heard that a number of our competitors were using ArtCAM with very good results so we decided to give it a try," Gregory continued. From the very beginning we felt that ArtCAM was a more finished product, more robust, with much higher performance. The tutorials make it very easy to take advantage of the many advanced features of the software.

The support provided by Delcam has been superlative and that they do listen to and implement user suggestions for improving the software. All in all, switching to ArtCAM has substantially improved our ability to knock our customers' "socks off."

Chandeliers for Mohegan Sun Casino

The Mohegan Sun Casino at Pocono Downs, Pennsylvania, recently completed Phase II of Project Sunrise, a $208 million renovation that dramatically transformed them into the area's leading entertainment complex. Adirondack Studios designers began the construction of the chandeliers by building a 3D AutoCAD model of the chandelier. An STL file of a 60 degree bowl segment was built using the AutoCAD model. Gregory imported the file into ArtCAM, scaled the model and then generated a CNC program to machine a positive shape in a low density Sign Foam slab on the CNC router. This positive then was used by a subcontractor to vacuum form the Tyvek plastic bowl segments. Adirondack Studios then back painted the bowl segments to look like alabaster.

The Adirondack Studios art department provided gray-scale artwork of the grouses that was then used to build a positive mold. Gregory began by importing the grey scale model using ArtCAM's Open Existing Model command to both position and specifying the grouse height. He used additional ArtCAM tools to create a machinable relief and built vector boundaries around the grouse and mold perimeter defining machining zones. He used the Create Relief from Image, Create Vector Boundary from Relief, and Create Polyline tools.

A clos-up view of the grouse that adorn the chandelier

Then using these vectors Gregory defined the rough clear areas. He first used ArtCAM's Machine Relief tool to clear out the entire model area using a 3/8" end mill with a 0.15" inch allowance with the outer profile vector selected as a boundary. This toolpath was used to remove bulk material rapidly leaving a flat bottom and a terraced model. He previously had used the Create Polyline tool to draw the defining vector just outside the edge of the visible grouse. This vector and the mold perimeter vector were used to define the mold machine zone surrounding the grouse without touching the grouse. Next he used the Machine Relief tool with a ¼" end mill with a zero allowance tool path around the grouse leaving a very flat base. Using the same grouse perimeter vector he built a relief machining zone for the grouse. Again using the Machine Relief tool he built tool paths to machine the grouse with a ¼" ball nose mill. The Rest Machine tool was used to identify areas and create rest machine vectors for areas uncut by the ¼" ball nose mill operation. An 1/8" ball nose tool was used for the rest machine tool path operation. Gregory machined a full scale model of the grouse from medium density fiberboard (MDF). Adirondack Studios' casting department used the model to make a mold and cast the grouse using black tinted silicone rubber casting fluid, giving the grouse a wrought iron look.

The next step was to create a bird's nest pattern and weave it around the circumference of the bowl. Gregory began by creating vector-based artwork that defined the profile of the bird's nest strand using AutoCAD software. Then he imported the artwork into ArtCAM and using the Weave Generator tool generated a precise 3D relief of the bird's nest. The Weave Generator allowed him to defined the dive and overlap values that determine how the strands cross each other for a more natural look. "Birds do not use a CNC machine to build their nests so it took considerable effort to get the correct look," Gregory said.

Gregory generated a CNC program to cut the bird's nest negative shape into MDF. It took only 15 minutes to create the program for machining the bird's nest. Gregory estimates that it would have taken at least 4 hours with the software that he used in the past and with marginal results. The mold was used to cast the bird's nest from the same silicon rubber casting fluid used for the grouse. Both the grouses and the bird's nest were glued to the bowl of the chandelier.

Adirondack Studios logo

For more information on the work of Adirondack Studios, please visit the Adirondack Studios website