Custom Acrylic, and sister company Graphic Spider, Los Angeles, CA, design and produce acrylic awards, plaques, corporate awards, engraving, sports display cases, and etched awards. Designs are often unique, and customers want 'something special' with every order. Add to that short turnaround times, and you may have an idea of the pressure the company faces every day.

Joe Valiente started Graphic Spider in a small Hawthorne, CA, bedroom/office with one laptop computer around 2004. Today, Graphic Spider occupies a 4000 square foot facility which houses the most up-to-date technology for designing and manufacturing its very popular products.

He points out that his company's mission is to provide clients with the quickest, most professional service and product available in the plastics market today. With Delcam ArtCAM CAM software, Salt Lake City, UT, he is able to keep up with demand and perform up to the standard of his mission.

Machining the Dewey Award

Before this he would mainly hand shape and do some 2D routing or engraving. ArtCAM has proved a great help in producing plaques and frames, as well as engraving, where multiple copies and different sizes are required of the same design. With ArtCAM, Joe can carve foam signs from a 2D design while the customer waits; literally.

Finished Dewey Award

Unlike conventional CADCAM systems, which tend to require knowledge of engineering and mathematical principles, ArtCAM is a more artistic application, which makes extensive use of color in developing designs. This approach makes it very easy to produce sophisticated designs, even for people that are not usually strong in technical subjects.

Another important benefit of ArtCAM is that it includes both design and manufacturing capabilities within a single program. This allows users to control the machining of their designs on equipment ranging from small cutting machine tools to the large woodworking routers used to produce signs and architectural decorations. In this way, designers can ensure that their original design concept is captured accurately in the finished product.

In my industry, leadtime is very critical. The faster I can do something, the faster I can get it to market"

Joe also likes the ability of ArtCAM to reverse engineer special designs and other 'out-of-the-box' concepts. Most of the reverse engineering is for 2D cutting. "For example, someone may come in with a layout for a speaker box or an object out of cardboard. We take the dimensions off of that model and fabricate it.

"Many times, a customer has an idea for a special award or other object that he made a one-off copy or sketch of," Joe said. "We can scan or measure that piece and create the data file we need to machine or shape it to the customer's expectations—in a very short time." Custom Acrylic can capture the design of an acrylic shape and create a CAM file for its machines in as little as 1 hour.

Baseball and college awards

Joe says, "The use of custom acrylic allows our clients the opportunity to enhance any environment with a warm, clean and polished look. It also creates remarkable space extension. When combined with CNC and laser technology, acrylic has virtually no limitations".

Although a great fan of ArtCAM and developments made in the recent versions, Joe plays a proactive role with suggestions for new features. This kind of feedback is invaluable in the continued development of the software, and Joe found that Delcam welcomed it. The result is continually improved features in a software package that helps Joe differentiate his products from others in this highly competitive field.

For more information please visit the Graphic Spider website: