Design software builds a better banjo

Nov. 4, 2010
The Deering Banjo Co. uses DesignCAD software from to create inlays for the banjos’ fingerboards and necks.

Deering Banjo Co.,
IMSI/Design LLC,

Banjo manufacturer Deering Banjo Co., Spring Valley, Calif., uses DesignCAD software from IMSI/Design LLC, Novato, Calif., to create inlays for banjo fingerboards and necks. The inlays help “dress up” low-cost, high-quality banjos. “The software’s curve creation and editing tools are easy to use, yet they generate complex designs,” says cofounder Greg Deering.

After inlays are created in the software, designers make physical replicas using several different techniques. For less expensive models, inlays are accurately burned into banjo components using a computer-controlled laser. For more expensive inlays, such as mother-of-pearl versions, the company sends DesignCAD files to a third-party. It outputs designs to a CNC machine that uses high-speed end mills to cut inlays. In these cases, DesignCAD files are exported as HPGL plots and read into the CNC machine. For other inlay materials, DesignCAD files are saved in DXF or DWG formats and imported into MasterCAM. Deering figures CAD has slashed the time for designing and manufacturing inlays to a couple of hours.

Deering intends to use DesignCAD’s 3D design and modeling tools, as well. In addition, he is evaluating DesignCAD’s 3D CAM plug-in, ContourCAM, as a way of directly driving CNC machines from inside the DesignCAD application.

© 2010 Penton Media, Inc.

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