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3D CAD/CAM softwares I tested


#1

Hi everybody,

I have tried several well-known 3D CAD/CAM software solutions. I’m a
student in a European jewelry design school and my last assignment
was to research new technologies in the jewelry design market
worldwide.

Here is my viewpoint of the solutions I tested:

  • Matrix: Main advantages: friendly interface, surface modeler,
    works with NURBS and in full 3D, different weight and calculation
    "builders", rendering mode and animated rendering mode with flamingo
    (non-integrated as it is a Rhino plug-in). Both rapid prototyping
    and CNC machines can be used. Unfortunately, matrix is the most
    expensive jewelry software (around $7000) and keeps no track of
    construction steps! and believe me it is a very useful function when
    you have to change the sizing of a model or other details. I’m sure
    you see what I mean!

  • Jewel Cad. advantages: Affordable. Limits of the software: old
    solution with non-modern icons and interface. No development, no
    support. limited renderings.

  • Rhino. Cheap for the simple version and costs around $1200 for
    Rhino+Flamingo (rendering software). main advantages: powerful. You
    can create and edit objects as well as surface and solids; numerous
    input and output file formats. Disadvantages: difficult interface;
    general software meaning that without the plug-in, it remains quite
    weak for 3D jewelry design. Does not have specific jewelry-oriented
    functions.

  • Jewel Smith: Easier to learn than Rhino. Interesting for bas
    relief jewels such as medals or earrings. Attractive and pleasant
    interface. But jewel smith is like a “toy”, by which I mean it is
    limited; more oriented towards CNC machines. No solid modeling.

All the aforementioned solutions are well-known. Of those, Matrix
was my favorite, but my company and I gave it up for 3Design jewel.
This new software is more jewelry-oriented than the others. It
allows freestyle manual design. I like its modern interface and
technology, its assembly construction possibilities, its useful
wizards. In addition, it is parametric! it is just simple and
pleasant to use. For my personal use, I have been renting the light
version for the last couple of months for $120/month. I got a free
7-day evaluation copy on www.3designexpress.com

I have now a new topic to work on (very important for my
degree!):“the service bureau”. Can anybody here tell me about his or
her experience in details (costs, deadlines, etc…). Is it better
to send a design file to a service bureau or to buy a machine to
manufacture directly your design?

Thanks for your help
D.Chang


#2

David,

This subject of cad/cam gets a lot of action and sometimes
arguement. I, like most people interested in cad software, checked
out all the top programs available and landed on Matrix as my choice.
After two years and countless hours I can unequivicably say I made
the right choice…for me. One of the biggest myths about
selecting software is this idea that you can gain some understanding
by testing and looking at different softwares. Most of these
programs are very deep and complicated and simply cannot be
understood with a brief interview. I believe that the most
important question to be asked is “what do I hope to accomplish and
do with the software”. The answere will be very different based on
wether or not you are a manufacturer, retailer, designer, tinkerer,
or all of the above. Some of the programs are great for one of these
or maybe two, but I have found that only matrix can meet the most
variety of needs. Besides the fact that it gets better, stronger,
and simpler, with every update.

You first have to put a finger on your needs and them pic a program
that will meet them. Or…Pick the program that you can afford and
work around any deficiencies. It will take a long time to experiece
all that the program has to offer. I have been a user for 2 1/2 yrs
and I still find new things and way’s of doing things with every new
project.

As to your comment;

Unfortunately, matrix is the most expensive jewelry software
(around $7000) and keeps no track of construction steps! and
believe me it is a very useful function when you have to change the
sizing of a model or other details. I'm sure you see what I mean! 

Matrix has 5 rows of 20 job bags for you to keep different stages
and steps as you see fit. It really is not difficult to go back and
change something.

I went to the websight you provided for 3 design and watched the
demos. I have never heard of this program or used it so these
comments are based soley on what I found on the sight. This program
did not look very creative in nature. What I mean by that is the
library of shanks and parts seemed to basic, uncreative, and simple.
Many of the tools and functionality are the same as in matrix/rhino.
The renders in the gallery were simply terrible. But that is not a
problem if you have no need for great renders. I would be interested
to hear your thoughts on the program after 6months or a year using,
after you have really learned to put it through its paces.

Cad programs are very expensive tools and it pays to at least
attempt to get an idea of what each is capable of and then see which
applies to your needs. They open up a vast array of possibilities.
Good luck with your chioce.

Dave Delaria
DBG Inc.


#3

Dave, Take another look.
http://www.type3.com/en/3designjewel/home.html

Never judge a book by its cover they say, but I will agree that the
website could be much better. Having said that, the best work shown
by any CAD/CAM company on the web, are items submitted by the end
users. In my experience, the guys who write the code do not usually
make great works of art or models :slight_smile: As you mentioned to Dave, you
cannot truly comprehend what a solution brings to the table until you
have at least mastered the basics and really got into the depths of
the program, so in that regard you made a slight contradiction in
your comments to Dave, by making assumptions about the lack of
creativity in the solution based on the website. I will agree that
the items demonstrated are rather weak, so I understand and respect
where your comments are coming from.

All I can say, is that 3DesignJewel should be part of any serious
software evaluations and put through its paces. I firmly believe that
the software will speak for itself and needs no further comments on
how powerful I feel this solution really is.

Best Regards.
Neil George
954-572-5829


#4

Hi David: Since you are researching CAD/CAM software do you know of
anyone using Solid Works as their Cam package for Jewelery work? If
so is it working well for them?

Thanks
Harry


#5

Harry,

I use both Rhino and Solidworks for my cad/cam jewelry. I use
Solidworks especially for the metal pieces that have custom cut
stones…(see website). I use Solisworks for the designing and it took
much longer to feel comfortable using it. Until it became a
comfortable tool.

Sue Ann Dorman
P.O. Box 110201
Marina Del Rey, CA 90295
@Sue_Dorman
www.suedorman.com


#6

Hello Harry,

I am really new to this so I do not know much about the Cad systems.
I am looking for something with a shortened learning curve. I have
friends that use Solid Works for other types of products but not
jewelry. They seem to like it.

Thanks,
Dave


#7

Solidworks does not have a short learning curve. Its a very good
high end software, but I strongly urge you to look at some of the
more jewelry oriented packages, they save you a lot of time and time
is money.

Actually no good 3d software truly has a short learning curve, lets
just say some are a bit easier to get started in than others. The
software you choose should reflect the kind of work you already do.
That is, are you used to sketching in 3 views? or do you like to work
things out flat and imagine them curved around afterwards? Is your
work organic or hard edge, do you like to use images from the past in
your work or do you do very traditional jewelry? Are you very
computer literate now? Are you self motivated can you read the
manuals do the tutorials and lessons on your own? Do you need support
that is accessible every day with answers when you call or can you
figure things out better on your own with minimal guidance? There are
many more questions than this but this is a good start.

First plan on investing not just in software but also in training,
the training is the key to the process. Just add the cost of training
in it is an absolutely necessary initial cost for your cad cam
startup project

The software should also fit your budget, and it most of all it
should make you money.

We use Artcam, Matrix/Rhino and Jewelspace. Each has its own plusses
and minuses, together they make it possible for us to do just about
any job we get here at the service bureau. We print on our Invision
HR and mill on a 4 axis mill using output from all of these softwares
and others that clients send us

Please fell free to contact us with any questions

Thomas Cavagnaro, GG
Cadsmithing, LLC A Service Bureau
480 688 4136
cadsmith@cox.net
www.cadsmithing.com


#8

Hi David:

I’m not new to CAD or CAM but I am new to jewelery making for a
living. I forget who said it in one of these threads but they were
on the mark when they said that you just have to take you’re lumps on
the learning curve. Hopefully after you have spent thousands of hours
learning a program it will do what you need it to do. The thing I
like and hate both about Solid Works is it is associative meaning
history based. What I like about it is that if I make a change to the
solid model the change goes automatically to the CAM Portion of the
job and it is updated and changed too. The part I don’t like is that
sometimes it is really hard to make changes. I started out in CAD
with H.P.s Solid Designer which was not history based and ran on
UNIX. When I moved up here my computer was stolen so instead of
spending 30k on a new UNIX workstation I migrated to the P,C. world
for a lot less money and also got a lot more versatility. One of the
other nice things about Solid Works is because it is history based
doing family of parts jobs is easier. Even though it is not
specifically designed for jewelery I will have to make it do.

Thanks
Harry


#9

Hi Sue Ann:

I appreciate you’re feedback! As I get older it seems that everything
gets harder to learn. I have had a rough time with the Solid Works
software. Maybe it is because it is so different than H.P.s Solid
Designer. I had to get something more broad based because of the
machine shop part of my livelyhood.(most) I am hoping that I will be
able to adapt it to jewelery and art type projects without too much
trouble.

Thanks
Harry


#10

Walter,

I have been a Solidworks user since its inception in 1995 and would
be willing to help you with any questions you may have. It is a very
powerful tool but like anything else, totally useless as Thomas
Cavagnaro mentioned without the proper training.

The key to building great models that change with a single click is
in how you create your associativity and more importantly utilizing
the equations and how you relate your geometry to each other. The
best advice and the simplest that I could point out to you, is to
create your construction geometry on one sketch that will be used to
control and update the model dimensionally. For a ring, enter a
circle and dimension it. offset another circle for the ring thickness
to a known dimension. Use the centre lines with tangent relations to
the circle to give you other elements such as the distance to the top
of the ring etc. If there are any planes on an angle, draw a centre
line and dimension that angle etc. By putting the plane at the end of
that also dimensioned length you can easily control that planes
position etc. As you go along in creating your construction
geometry, change a dimension and check that everything is moving
correctly. From here you can start assigning relations such as on
edge relations etc in a new sketch to tie in your model to these
dimensions. Equations are very powerful in that you can tell it to
make this feature or dimension stay at a percentage rate at all times
of the controlling or driving dimension. You can link several
dimension that are all the same, so you change one and all others
will follow, or on the same sketch, dimension one item and create a
relation that makes all of the other geometries equal to that one. So
much power to explain in one e-mail :slight_smile:

I can send you a couple of files if you like to see what I am
talking about. Give me call any time.

Best Regards
Neil George
954-572-5829