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Broadening the spectrum for creativity

A great piece of software for schools, but one which is often overlooked, is ArtCam for Education, from Delcam. It is part of the CADCAM Initiative and has made a significant contribution to the success of teaching and learning CADCAM in schools.

ProDesktop is often considered the only package for CADCAM, but this is not the case. While its potential can't be underestimated (sometimes it is used to produce CAD images), CADCAM can do so much more. Many schools use ProDesktop to manufacture good quality products, but they are missing out on an opportunity to broaden the spectrum of achievable products.

I believe strongly in working towards a manufactured outcome and ArtCam is a piece of software that can help you to achieve this. ArtCam for Education has enhanced our CADCAM provision incredibly and provides the value-added factor to design and technology education. However, be aware that there are many "experts" in ArtCam for Education who have never even used it.

ArtCam for Education encourages users to shape 3-D forms using colours and shapes. Very accurate sculpting and three-dimensional texturing enhances work from an early stage. Male and female moulds can be made for pewter casting projects, with the resulting cast having a uniform thickness of just over a millimetre.

Can you imagine the excitement of a student opening a digital photograph of a family member and machining the actual image in acrylic plastic? It is an amazing experience, but to achieve the 3-D relief in ArtCam for Education takes just three clicks of the mouse. How you wish to use the relief is up to you. Moulds for vacuum-forming can be designed for chocolate moulds, puzzle games, fine jewellery and whatever else you can imagine.

I am waving a flag for this software because I believe in giving students a broad spectrum of opportunity in their CADCAM entitlement. I have trained many teachers in ArtCam for Education who have been delighted with the results they can achieve with appropriate training. The software is available free to schools as long as you attend a course by an accredited trainer. The students are then given the software to install on their own machines at home. This is a fantastic opportunity for design and technology departments wanting to raise the quality of products made by their students.

I have produced a CD-Rom resource called CADCAM Cookies. It contains three professionally produced videos on casting, photograph engraving and making moulds. The disc also contains four screen-camera recordings on how to make each of the projects shown. The screen-camera recordings allow you to pause the footage while working on the software. Bonus features are also included, with access to an editable booklet on how to design a fridge magnet. If the CD-Rom is explored in "My Computer" a further video on mirror design and other resources will be found. This resource has been developed for students and teachers alike and contains about 50 minutes of video and audio content. I can be contacted through the CD-Rom email link and am willing to give support where I can.

In 2000 the Gatsby Charitable Trust made me a Fellow of Technology. This resource has been produced as a result of my continuing fellowship and commitment to producing education materials.

CADCAM Cookies is available from the Design and Technology Association (DATA) for pound;5, to cover reproduction and administration costs. Cheques made payable to DATA should be sent to Pam Osbourne, DATA, 16 Wellesbourne House, Walton Road, Wellesbourne, Warwickshire CV35 9JB. Tel: 01789 470007Email: second version of the resource, entitled CADCAM in the Classroom, is available from Unimatic Engineers. The company provided the CAM equipment for the manufacture of the products seen in the video footage. This version of the software contains five sets of editable learning materials written in Microsoft Publisher. The software, including all written learning materials, costs pound;35. Trupti Patel, Unimatic Engineers, Unimatic House, Granville Road, London NW2 2LN. Tel: 020 8922 Jonathan Boyle Jonathan Boyle is a design and technology teacher

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