Cadcam developer Delcam has reported that sales for the year to 31st December 2003 were £20.5 million, an increase of 8.5 per cent on the previous best annual sales of £18.9 million. Food and beverage packaging has increasingly become an important component of the firm's success, as a recent demonstration at Total 2004 showed.
Indeed, the firm believes that its financial results reflect its ability to broaden the range of applications of its software. Recent technical developments have made it more attractive to companies in product design applications such as packaging. The technology is able to produce complex designs quicker and with a higher degree of quality.
"Take this Rexam glass bottle for Teachers Whisky," said Peter Dickin, marketing manager for Delcam UK. "We can use our ArtCam software to wrap a logo over the bottle."
Dickin uses his software to first create a 2-D profile, which is then rotated to create a bottle shape. Artwork and brand info is then applied, and wrapped over the bottle to create quite literally 'packaging with feeling'. Once the design is approved, Delcam's PowerShape software can be used to design a full range of processes - blow moulds for plastic or glass, injection moulds for closures, and punches for cans - which can be generated rapidly and accurately.
Logos, textures and other decorations can be easily incorporated into standard pack designs, like the raised glass logo on the bottle of Teachers Whisky. The modification of complex designs is also much easier and quicker, making it possible to create a greater selection of alternatives when presenting proposals for new designs.
"It also cuts the cost of manufacturing," said Dickin. "The technology gives packaging manufacturers accurate, consistent designs that don't need to be tried out physically. The extra cost of using CAD software is therefore offset by increased efficiency and reduced waste."
Delcam was displaying its extended range of whole model editing options at Total 2004. These options include a new morphing method based on a control surface, the ability to retain the shape of features wrapped onto an underlying surface that is being modified, and the ability to undertake multiple morphs of different types on a surface or solid.
This morphing process, as it is called, allows rapid styling changes to be made in a single operation that would otherwise require extensive, time-consuming modification of the separate elements in a design. It is, therefore, ideal for the "what if" stage of new product development, when designers need to generate quickly a number of variations on a new concept.
To build on the popularity of this software, Delcam has expanded its distribution network, primarily in the emerging economies of China and India but also in many established markets, including the United States, Germany, Korea and Japan.
"As a global business, it is easy to see how events across the world have affected our performance in certain regions," said Delcam Chairman Tom Kinsey."During 2003, we have again demonstrated that we can continue to achieve good results despite these challenges.
"Trading in the early part of 2004 gives good reason for optimism, especially if we maintain our traditional pattern of higher sales in the second half of the year."