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Designing a Soap Mould

In this task, you are going to use ArtCAM to produce a design for a soap mould. The soap mould will include an image to publicise the World Wildlife Fund charity. The first task is to make a virtual model of the soap in ArtCAM. This can then be manufactured using a CNC router. A vacuum formed soap mould can then be made from the machined model. This soap mould can be used to cast a number of bars of soap.

Step 1 : Creating the Soap Base

First click on File and New or select Create New Model. This will open the Size for New Model box.

Set the size as Height 120 and Width 120. Set the Datum in the middle of the model by clicking in the centre of the box. Set the resolution as 600 x 600 points by using the slider.

John Lee SHU 2007

Now use the Create Circles tool from the Vector Editing menu to draw a circle with a radius of 50 mm, starting from the middle of the screen as shown. (X = 0; Y = 0) You can accurately adjust the size and position of the circle in the Circle Creation box at the left side of the screen. When you are happy with the size and position of your circle click on Create and then Close to see the finished shape.

Now you are going to create the basic 3D shape of the soap bar. To do this, double click on the outline and this will open the Shape Editor box as shown. Choose the rounded shape

Give the model a Start Height of 15 and then choose Limit to Height and enter a value of 5 as shown. This will add a 5mm rounded top edge to the shape. Click Add and when the computer has finished calculating the relief, click Close. To see the new shape, click on the 3D icon at the top of the page.

Manipulating 3D models on screen

You can now

use the left hand mouse button to tumble the model zoom in and out using the right hand mouse button pan across the model by holding down both Left and right hand mouse buttons

You are now going to add a recess to the top surface. To do this, go back to the 2D view by clicking the 2D icon. Create a second circle this time with a 42 mm radius.

Double click on the smaller circle to open the Shape Editor again. This time, choose the flat icon, enter a Start Height of 2 and click Subtract. When complete Close and click on 3D to see the result. Click on File pull down menu and Save your soap mould as a .art file. Now Close this model in the File menu.

Step 2: Creating the image for the soap

You are now going to create a new design for the top of the soap. For this you will first need a good quality clip art image. This image must be a JPEG, Bitmap or GIF, with good contrast and not too many colours in this example the World Wildlife Fund panda image has been used - this can easily be found by doing an image search on the internet. When you have found your image you will need to open another Artcam model but this time you need to click on Create Model From Image.

In the Set Model Size box click OK Your image should appear in the 2D screen as shown below. Click on 3D at the top of the screen to see a 3D version of your image.

John Lee SHU 2007

You now need to cut out your design. Go back to the 2D screen and then choose the Vector Editing tool - Create Polyline To make the cutout as smooth as possible, make sure that Draw Smooth Polylines is ticked.

Use the left hand mouse button to draw a series of short lines around your image. When you have finished, you should have a smooth line around the image as shown below. When you are happy with the shape, click Close.

Choose a Primary colour from the palette at the bottom of the screen. Click on the line around the image to select it, which should turn pink. Go to the Vector tab at the top of the screen and choose Flood Fill Vectors

John Lee SHU 2007

The shape will fill with your chosen colour. Now go to the Relief Editing tab at the top of the screen and choose Keep Under Colour. This will cut out your image from the background.

Click on the 3D button to see the cutout shape. You now need to save this shape as a relief so that you can add it to your soap base. To do this, go to the Relief tab at the top of the screen and click on Save Relief . This will save the shape as a .rlf file. You can now Close this model in the File menu.

Step 3 : Adding the image to the soap base

You are now ready to put the image and the soap base together. First you need to open the Soap Mould file that you designed earlier. To add the image to the top of your model, click on the Relief tab at the top of the screen and choose Load Relief

The 3D Clipart window will appear and you should be able to see your image at the bottom left hand side of your drawing.

Move the image to the middle of the drawing and resize it using the grab handles at the corners. Click Paste when you are ready. Click on the 3D tab to see the results.

John Lee SHU 2007

To smooth the model off, click on the Relief Editing tab and choose Smooth Relief. Choose 1 or 2 Smoothing Passes and click Apply

Your Soap Mould is now complete Click on File pull down menu and Save your soap mould design as a .art file. Now Close this model in the File menu.