Island Cabinetry and Millwork, a woodworking shop in Patchogue, NY, produces custom cabinetry, arches and millwork for new and renovated homes.
A few years ago, Island Cabinetry owner Robert Borgstede says he substantially increased productivity and accuracy by designing arches and other 2D projects in ArtCAM software, then cutting them out on a CNC milling machine.
Borgstede says Island Cabinetry can now design and build a door arch in three hours compared to 16 hours that was required in the past.
More recently, the company began using ArtCAM Pro to design and generate computer numerical control (CNC) programs to produce 3D millwork. An application of the software can be seen in a recently installed ceiling for a new home - one that includes multiple arches and beams intersecting with each other.
“The builder had tried to get other cabinet shops to bid on the job but none of them could handle it,” says Borgstede, president of Island Cabinetry and Millwork. “We designed, built and assembled the ceiling in 14 days."
Island Cabinetry and Millwork typically receives drawings for arches that specify the dimensions of the door but do not call out the radius of the arch. So in the past Borgstede designed the arches by laying out the doorway on paper and marking the three points that define the arch.
The arch points on the left and right side of the doorway locate where the arch blends into the door; the center-point is the top of the arch. Borgstede (or an employee) then attaches a pencil to a string and swung the pencil around to sweep out the arch.
A trial and error process was involved in repositioning the string and the pencil until the pencil hit all three points. The paper was then used as a template to cut out the arch with a jigsaw or router. The entire process of laying out the template and building the arch took about 16 hours, not including assembly at the job site.
Equipment at Island Cabinet and Millwork
• Shopbot 48 x 96-inch CNC
About five years ago, Borgstede started using ArtCAM software and a CNC router to improve this process.
“I never had any training in CAD software yet I found it very easy to [uise it to] define arches and other geometrical designs," he said. “In the case of an arch, I simply draw the doorway, including the top rail, bottom rail and the two stiles on the side. Then I create an arc in the software and snap it into place to the three defining points. It only takes five minutes to draw the arch to a much higher level of accuracy than can be achieved with a paper template. Then ArtCAM generates a G-code program. I load the program into the milling machine and put a piece of wood on the table. The mill cuts out the arch and the other four pieces exactly as they were laid out in the computer. In a total of three hours I have all the parts I need to build the arch.”
Island Cabinetry and Millwork has used ArtCAM software and the CNC milling machine for five years. Over this time the company has won many new customers through its ability to offer high quality 2D work at an affordable price.
Then a few months ago, a high-end design and build firm asked Island Cabinetry to bid on designing and building an unusual 3D ceiling design for a multimillion dollar custom spec home. The design basically consists of an oval forming the center of a grid with both the oval and the grid consisting of arched crown molding. It requires the creation of 150 components.
The customer had three designers on staff but they were unable to produce the design internally. They had talked to several other millwork companies who had also said they were unable to handle the job. The ceiling concept design was much more difficult than typical millwork because of the difficulty of calculating the complex intersections where the radiused crown molding comes together at intersecting points.
Borgstede asked his distributor about it. "He showed me how it could very easily be done." He upgraded to ArtCAM Pro, which adds 3D capabilities to the user interface.
"I started off by creating the profiles of the main shapes in the ceiling," he says. "The difference was that after creating each profile I extended it into a 3D shape." For this he used the software's two-rail extrude feature by creating two lines that intersect the cross-section and then extruding the cross-section along the path of the two lines.
Borgstede created the organic shapes needed for the crown molding intersections with Delcam Designer, a plug-in that allows users to work with full 3D models. He morphed the adjoining surfaces dynamically to create flowing intersections, then cut and pasted the resulting models into the software.
Borgstede prepared a series of concept designs for the ceiling, then generated renderings for each design and showed them to the builder. Based on the builder’s input, Borgstede finalized the design.
Next Borgstede simulated the manufacturing of the 150 components needed for the ceiling on the computer screen. By nesting all of the parts he could go on to toolpathing all 3D pieces for machining. The simulation also provided the exact geometry of the finished part, which Borgstede compared to the 3D model.
Borgstede corrected a few minor glitches, then generated G-code for the milling machine. He mounted a layup on the machine table consisting of three layers of 2-inch thick ranger board to achieve the maximum 4.5 inch depth of the ceiling profile. He machined each segment as if it were a single piece of material.
It took him two days to design the ceiling, seven days to mill the components on the CNC machine and five days for assembly.
“This project would have been impossible to do by hand and was also apparently beyond the capabilities of the software used by our competitors,” Borgstede said. “I called Delcam when I completed the project to tell them how happy I was with the software."
The builder was also very happy. After the ceiling was completed he raised the price of the house substantially, Borgstede says. The software "has taken our company into a new league by making it possible to complete jobs that other cabinet shops are unable to do,” he says.
After completing this project, Island Cabinetry and Millwork was approached to design and manufacture a complex soffit for a local restaurant on Long Island. Borgstede used ArtCAM Pro to design the project in 2D and then Delcam Designer to show the client in 3D what the soffit would look like. The soffit contained 750 individual parts, 60 layers, and, when complete, hung 60 inches from the ceiling, and was over a hundred feet long and 80 inches in depth.
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