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3D Printers


#1

Hello all of you interested in 3D Printing:

I just got my May/June issue of Lapidary Journal and there was a
lead article on 3D Printing. Let me preface what I will say by
identifying myself as a dentist not a jeweler. However I am married
to a gold/silversmith.Computers are powerful tools in the right
hands. There are steep learning curves on CAD/CAM software (I have
taken courses at the local junior college and used a number of
software programs and Haas vertical machining centers as well as
owning a New Hermes CNC engraving machine). At the local JC I set up
a Replicator 2 machine that we received 4 months ago. I have used
their software to slice and print the objects. The machine uses PLA
plastic and is basically a hot melt glue gun delivery system on a
CNC platform. We also have a Stratasys commercial system that is
about 8 years old. I can print on both machines with either a file I
have created or one that I downloaded. At their highest resolution
you can run your fingernail across the build layers and feel the
ridges of each layer. Not bad, but still there. I have spent my
adult life casting mostly gold crowns and I know that the castings
from these printers will not be bad, but they will require more than
simple polish compound and rouge. Something like a Dedeco white
wheel(this is a fine silicone rubber abrasive wheel) to eliminate
the ridges.

My friend the jeweler here in Ventura blew me away with 3D Prints
from a 20K$ desktop system(Envisiontech Micro) that gives 26 micron
layers. No ridge feel with the the nail and under a loupe a really
nice smooth surface that would shine up with only rouge! If you are
in this to make money and not waste time to overcome the limitations
of your tools, the choice is clear.

But you do not need to buy the machine. There are service shops out
there that will create the print for you and even do the casting.
You will waste a lot of time and money if you try this on your own.
By buying an inexpensive machine and experimenting you can learn
about the important variables. You can even do the castings in
silver and evaluate them. You will still have the learning curve of
the software. And to do custom work for your clients, there is no
substitute for the learning curve. The amount of detail that you can
incorporate into a multi piece creation that links together and can
flex is amazing. And the software can sprue everything.

I saw the prints for a multi piece interlocking necklace that was
tightly sprued and had detail that I could not believe would really
cast, but I was told that it would cast nicely.

Sorry for the long rant, but I was kind of upset that the article
did not really give an accurate assessment of the technology. And I
had also promised to evaluate the quality of the Replicator 2
prints.

Charles Friedman DDS
Ventura, CA


#2
I saw the prints for a multi piece interlocking necklace that was
tightly sprued and had detail that I could not believe would
really cast, but I was told that it would cast nicely. 

We have done this subject a few times under different guises.

Going the route of technology misses the cardinal point of
goldsmithing raison d’atre. Goldsmith cannot compete with machinery
available nowadays. Could not do it for the last 50 years, but so
what.

Goldsmithing is about what a man or a woman can do using only their
hands, head, and talent.

This is self imposed limitations and that is how we like it.

We have the same in sports; in competitions like chess tournaments,
jeopardy and etc. In each and every case technology can be used to
achieve better, more impressive results. But society does not care
for it. Society values results achieved without technology. It is
expected of machine to do better. Machine which does not outperform
humans gets thrown away as garbage.

If goldsmithing is only cleaning castings and sticking together
pre-fabricated parts, - how long could you keep your job before been
replaced by another machine or less skilled labour ? Please
understand that technologists could not do it without you training
your clients to accept soulless machine quality. But after you
accomplish that, you will be replaced in very short order.

Technology is a Trojan Horse and if we are foolish enough to accept
that “gift” and open gates of our shops, we have nobody but ourself
to blame for oncoming destruction.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#3
Replicator 2 

Let me preface this by saying all my platinum castings come from an
EnvisionTec and all my gold castings come from a SolidScape.

There are downsides to EnvisionTec machines as well. Just as there
are downsides to SolidScape, 3DSystems, Asiaga, etc. If you are in
the market and want to see owners of these machines, their raw
castings, and finished pieces then go to 3Dcadjewelery.com. They have
a ton of info on everything from learning 3D programs to operating
CNC mills and 3D printers.

Most folks over there are waiting/investigating the new B9 Creator.
The hope is to have the EnvisionTec Micro’s precision for less than
$5k once they release an HD model (current model uses a standard
definition projector).

The EnvisionTec’s strength is it’s surface finish, but you still
have to take a file to them. They absolutely will not just polish up
with rouge.

The downside is prepping your models for printing and then casting
them.

You have to model your own supports for printing. You have to make
sure you fully cure the part. The polymer has horrible thermal
expansion that requires the use of tougher dental investment. Even
then, you will have the occasional bad casting.

The SolidScape’s strength is it’s ease of use and castability. You
import your model and the program does everything needed to get them
ready to grow. The material has a low melt point and only mild
thermal expansion.

I use SatinCast 20. The downside is it’s surface finish. Everything
grown will take longer to clean up, and these parts take just a bit
longer.

CNC machines are the easiest to clean up, but have the most
limitations as to what can be done and require a lot of knowledge to
operate them.


#4
how long could you keep your job before been replaced by another
machine or less skilled labour ?

That’s a pretty bold statement.

My father is a 2nd generation custom jeweler. Growing up I learned
to carve waxes, polish, and dropped everything to find melee that
escaped his bench while he worked his fingers to the bone. I’m the
3rd generation, and now I do all the custom work on a computer.

Just like you used to have a master wax carver turn out ring after
ring, now you have a master CAD designer create file after file. Is
it quicker? A little bit. Can you do more complicated patterns?
Definitely. Is it easier? Absolutely not.

It takes at least 5 years, working at CAD everyday to master it.
There are direct parallels to hand carving and computer aided design:
tools, approach, and skill. The tools for hand carving are dead
simple. After 2 years of working in Rhino, I learned 2 new tools
today. CAD is vast and constantly growing.

Approach and skill are the exact same. Sunday, I was telling my
uncle about having a hard time with a ring style I had done once
before. He told me that’s why, 30 years ago in Paris, TX, they made
him do each style 3 times. It’s the same thing in the CAD world.

And I am willing to bet, that no one in the history of the world has
spent an entire day carving a wax, only to have it disappear from
their hands in direct violation of every law of physics. Technology
has its downsides.

The law of computers guarantees bugs and crash reports and corrupted
files.

Thanks,
Eric Marvets


#5
It takes at least 5 years, working at CAD everyday to master it.
There are direct parallels to hand carving and computer aided
design: tools, approach, and skill. The tools for hand carving are
dead simple. After 2 years of working in Rhino, I learned 2 new
tools today. CAD is vast and constantly growing. 

We have done this subject several times. Usual outcome is a lot of
bruised egos.

CAD is good at producing jewellery only a computer can like. Humans
are different matter.

Parallel between CAD and hand carving is nonsensical. If hand
carving suppose to have artistic content, CAD is nowhere close to
what is required.

Let’s for argument sake assume that a client has artistic
sensibility of a door knob and do not mind chunky trinkets under the
guise of jewellery. I am sure that CAD is great at such
applications, but so what. Do you want to put CAD to test ?

Go to my website and take a look at Eternity Ring preview
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1f0 Than see if you can reproduce it.
I have been offering this test to CAD aficionados for several years.
They usually come back with excuses that it is not clear from the
video the exact shape of the ring. So to eliminate the excuse I
created special page on my website, where one can see the CAD model
from every angle.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/10o You have to have Java enabled for
the model to function.

Model responds to mice, so if default angle is not what you want,
just drug it to where you like it.

The trick of course to make the real ring. So when it will be ready,
please post pictures. Trembling with anticipation to see it.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#6

I have a ton of respect for hand craft, because I do it. My family
has been doing it for 3 generations. But I also spent the past 2
years learning CAD, and respect it as well. It’s difficult to master
hand crafting as an artform, and it’s difficult to master CAD as an
artform.

Anyone can make a ring in CAD, but anyone can carve wax or bend
metal too.

I started doing it when I was 8. Only my mother called it art.

I can tell from your video, that you have mastered hand crafting.
The CAD model of it however, was made by an 8 year old. I know both,
so I can stand firm behind that judgement. Your disdain and complete
lack of respect for CAD, proves you know nothing about it. You are
not qualified to participate in this conversation, much less render
the findings of others to be ‘nonsensical’.

The challenge you put out is a fools errand. You offer only grainy
video of your creation and the CAD model lacks the fine detail that
would raise the ring to the level of art. If you had 3 or 4 high res
images, I happily would have done it.

But I suspect you are just here to troll the conversation and shill
your DVD. I suggest you offer it on VHS, because most of the like
minded individuals who agree with you don’t have digital video disk
players.


#7

That CAD is your eternity ring from the video in spirit only. The
ring in your video has the channels angled, the CAD does not, and the
claws are extremely thick in the CAD. They are almost two totally
different rings. The CAD you have drawn looks very chunky in
comparison the video.

This is the problem I’ve had, I’m trying to make a duplicate of your
ring, which is difficult to do if I don’t have proper images. Ever
tired to make an historical replica without a photograph of the back
of the piece, you just can’t do it, you can only come close.

If you’re happy for me to make a replica based on your CAD and the
work I have already done. Cool. However, based on your CAD I suspect
I wont even get close.

What do others think? If I made a ring like Leonid’s CAD would that
look like Leonid’s ring in his video?

Regards Charles A.


#8

Isn’t there a pattern that tech advances often leave previous
generations of skill levels behind?

If that’s true, then consumer-operated CAD may be as much a threat
to highly skilled CAD operators as it is to skilled goldsmiths. I’ve
seen recent articles discussing online CAD, currently up and
running, aimed at consumers. Not only do these programs make
goldsmiths obsolete, they make CAD operators obsolete, jewelry
designers obsolete, jewelers obsolete and salespeople obsolete.

If I could afford to spend 5 years learning CAD (I think someone
suggested that it could take 5 years to master CAD), I think I’d
rather spend the time learning hand skills. I’m guessing that if
someone allocates the next few years of his or her life to mastering
CAD that, half-way through, they’ll already be out of date.

At least if you have hand skills, you can do business with the small
(maybe very small) group of consumers who will always be in the
market for jewelry made by a master craftsperson. “I guarantee every
piece of jewelry I make is 100% CAD free” could be the only way to
survive.

People collect Spratling silver, Lalique art nouveau, Georgian
rings, mid-twentieth century Modern Studio, early Georg Jensen and on
and on. Can anyone imagine future collectors getting excited about
"early Matrix or 21st century Stuller Countersketch?


#9
The ring in your video has the channels angled, the CAD does not,
and the claws are extremely thick in the CAD. 

That said, the model is only to give general idea of construction.

It was never intended as a finished model. Actual ring holds a lot
surprises for CAD experts. That is the whole point.

If someone believes in CAD infallibility, this is a good project to
discover otherwise.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#10
If I could afford to spend 5 years learning CAD (I think someone
suggested that it could take 5 years to master CAD), I think I'd
rather spend the time learning hand skills. 

This is a good time to bring economics of marketplace into
conversation.

Price of everything is based on supply/demand equilibrium. Short
supply makes things expensive and vice versa.

Everybody nowadays told that CAD is required for career in
goldsmithing.

My reservations aside, it is reasonable to conclude that in 10 to 15
years market will be saturated with CAD technicians. This is going to
bring prices on such skills to the level of commodity. Because of
computer power doubles every 18 month, Moore’s Law still in effect,
CAD interface shall become friendlier and friendlier and learning
curve shorter and flatter. This will only exacerbate the problem of
market saturation. Given all that, what kind of a return a student of
CAD can expect on his/her investment of time and money ? The history
of market place tells us that prospects of such individual are
bleak, to say the least.

Consider the alternative. If you spend next five years learning hand
skills, than in the future you will be in enviable position of
writhing your own ticket. You will be in possession of rare and
desirable skill-set and you will have no competition. Whatever
advances computers will have, there will always be segment of the
market interested in your work. Population of USA is about 300
million. According to IRS, 250,000 earn more than a $1,000,000.

Do you know how many goldsmiths it would take to satisfy demand from
this segment ? I am pretty fast, but in my best years I could not
fulfill more that 20 orders in a year.

So do the math. It is very revealing.

So my friends, the keys to your future are in your own hands. It is
all depend on which door you decide to unlock. Make you choice
wisely.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#11
If that's true, then consumer-operated CAD may be as much a threat
to highly skilled CAD operators as it is to skilled goldsmiths.
I've seen recent articles discussing online CAD, currently up and
running, aimed at consumers. Not only do these programs make
goldsmiths obsolete, they make CAD operators obsolete, jewelry
designers obsolete, jewelers obsolete and salespeople obsolete. 

Consumer operated CAD a threat to Goldsmiths? and others, like
silver, copper and iron as in black smiths? Not a chance!!.

The clue is in the abbreviation, computer aided “DESIGN”.

Theres a hell of a big step from a design, whether its a sketch on
the back of an envelope or with a fancy CAD programme, to the finished
product. You also still need a talent to be a designer.

Your average consumer may have an idea HOW something is made, but to
interpret it into a metal object? without the materials and tools
with the neccesary experience in their use? I just dont see it
happening.

I certainly am not the slightest bit worried by this, it a bit of a
smoke screen and mirrrors scenario.

And your mention of 3D printing, for a metal object to match one
traditionally made, no way.

Just one example, take a 16in dia by 3/16ths in thick disk of bronze
weighing 10 lbs, and raise it into a high sided hemispherical bowl?
then repeat in sterling and again in titanium? Dont make me laugh!!.

Any experienced metal worker should have no worries on that score.

Your average consumer in a paid job 8 hrs a day, doesnt have the time
to develop the design idea to the finished


#12

I know CAD folks who are already complaining that their work is
being outsourced to cheaper firms out of the country.

Repairing Grandma’s antique ring? Not so much.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#13

I suspect that if you create an identical match, it would be claimed
to have no soul.


#14

Leonid, you don’t make sense. How am I to model the 'general idea’
of a ring? If you want me to make this ring, then I need to see
*this *ring.

Post some high resolution pictures, before and after the stones are
set.

Or don’t.

Isn't there a pattern that tech advances often leave previous
generations of skill levels behind? 

Technology is a tool. The point of a tool is that it makes you more
efficient. Find a way to use it to your advantage. If you don’t have
the time or desire to learn CAD, send it out just like you send out
an old sapphire that needs polishing. Make it save you time (money)
without sacrificing quality. But yes, if you stop swimming, you run
the risk of getting priced out of the market.

you can do business with the small (maybe very small) group of
consumers who will always be in the market for jewelry made by a
master craftsperson. 'I guarantee every piece of jewelry I make is
100% CAD free' could be the only way to survive.

The masses are not known for their discerning taste. They eat at
buffets…‘the food sucks and there is plenty of it’ is their motto.

People with taste have always been the minority. and you want to
target a minority within the minority? Are we here to be starving
artists or well paid craftsmen?

Let me say it another way. I go out of my way to buy tomatoes from
this farmer. He doesn’t have them, I don’t eat them. I can tell from
the taste, he’s someone who cares about his craft. Tractor,
pesticides. I don’t know how he does it. That’s his business. If it
was just a matter of them being 100% organic, then Walmart has
organic tomatoes. They taste like cardboard.

if someone allocates the next few years of his or her life to
mastering CAD that, half-way through, they'll already be out of
date.

That’s not the way it works. The earlier you start, the easier it is
to keep up. I spent months getting to know Rhino 4. When Rhino 5 came
out, it took a day to learn the new features.

consumer-operated CAD may be as much a threat to highly skilled
CAD operators 

CounterSketch is based on Rhino template files that anyone can
change in front of a customer. But if the template doesn’t have an
option for something, you can’t do it. Then a CAD designer at Stuller
actually makes the ring. It’s the new way for a customer to browse
through a wholesale catalog, but at a greater cost for the retailer.

I’m not afraid of CounterSketch I can make anything it can, but it
can’t do one of a kind. It can’t use grandma’s gold. But if this was
a threat. if this was a giant wave about to crash into me, you best
believe I’d paddle to the top and ride it in.


#15
Let me say it another way. I go out of my way to buy tomatoes from
this farmer. He doesn't have them, I don't eat them. I can tell
from the taste, he's someone who cares about his craft. 

I do the same thing. I travel 2 hours to buy chickens from the farm
up north.

And I will do it until the farmer is in business. I do not care what
gas cost and that his chickens are much more expensive, because his
quality is fantastic.

It is true that CAD quality is fine for majority of the market, but
I do not want to be in that market. If I cannot do jewellery the way
I think it should be, I do not do it at all. When I started in this
business, I had to take work from everybody and I was busy as a bee
and broke as a hobo. Then I realized that it is leading nowhere. I
purged my clientele leaving only those who were in tune with my
philosophy of jewellery making. And I was working much less and
started to make much more.

CAD is mass production technique. CAD jewellery have as much to do
with fine jewellery as frozen burgers with gourmet food. Love your
jewellery as you love your tomatoes, and you will do fine.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#16

Highly skilled CAD operators don’t necessarily have a deep
experience in jewelry design(s), nor have the deep experiences to
orchestrate a non-machined look, or non-industrial looking final
product. Someone with skills still needs to finish the product in
all regards, and also do further work, like diamond or stone
setting, enamel work, engraving work, assembly, etc…

Furthermore, I don’t see CAD operators muscleing out folks who do
marvelous repairs, restorations, and such.

The costs involved to cast pieces away from the computer format have
an impact, nevermind the high costs of precious metals. Then there’s
the aspect of how do the CAD operators ^market^* themselves if all
they know is a computer screen. Handicaps abound for that, and
stores have the final say with what might sell to their usual
clientele(or not), and make a sizeable mark-up on end price point.

If a CAD operator has to tie up big money paying for materials,
casting, labor to complete different levels of final assembly and
finishing, on the lick and a prayer that it might sell somewhere,
somehow… well that insures it’s more difficult for a CAD operator
to make a living, and afford the overhead.

And then there’s the aspect of speed. I have made very elaborate and
complicated designs for example, sculpted out of a hard carving wax
in less than one day, invested the wax and burned it out overnight
properly, cast in the morning, and have the entire project finished
and set the next day, including azured holes behind diamonds. Otoh,
I’ve seen CAD operators undertake somewhat similar taks and struggle
like crazy to work it all out, sometimes even spending a 100 hours
on it to be as right as possible, nad yet, they still have to have
someone else cast their effort, detail, finsh, set, polish,
etc…(and pay them), so in the end, thier timeline to get something
done is enormous by comparison, with the risks of no finesse, and
entrusting others to clean up their diaper(s) because they lack a
multitude of skills.

CAD operators can still make mistakes too, if they design and build
something that in the end is not settable(for example)…layout
miscalculations stemming from they have no setting skills.

Mho is that many CAD ‘experts’ are not as ‘expert’ as they would
like you to believe, nor are they to be prematurely feared. For many
more reasons than I’ve outlined here, they’re handicapped.

my 2 cents only, ymmv

Marko


#17
I suspect that if you create an identical match, it would be
claimed to have no soul.

Thank you Chris.

I joined Orchid to learn things I don’t know. And in the spirit of
community, I wanted to share the little I do know. I am disheartened
that this group would allow members to speak authoritatively on
subjects they obviously know nothing about. It seems that Orchid is
not a place where technology can be discussed.

The incoherence of “CAD can’t”, to it can with “$10 mil of computer
equipment and tools”, to faulty understandings of Moore’s law and
"consumer operated CAD" is astounding. This is a whirlwind of
confusion, not communication.

I know CAD folks who are already complaining that their work is
being outsourced to cheaper firms out of the country." 

Jo, this is happening. You can pay $60 or $600 for a model. For $60,
you get someone who’s never cast or set a stone or even held a
sanding stick.

As this field matures, these guys will disappear and the prices will
reach an equilibrium. The same thing happened to the software
industry in the mid-2000s.

It could slice a hair into 14 cross sections length ways.

Richard, that’s physically impossible. A human hair is at most 180
microns thick. When you cut something, you have to subtract the width
of the cutting tool. The smallest mechanical cutters are in the 50
micron range.

The smallest focused laser beam is in the 25 micron range. 14 x 25 =
350.

The top of the line micro cutting machines, the ones used in nano
tech and micro fluidic research laboratories cost about $25k. I just
bought one.

You can see them at http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep809z

Moore's Law still in effect, CAD interface shall become friendlier
and friendlier and learning curve shorter and flatter" 

Leonid, you somehow manage to share the exact opposite of fact.
Moore’s law says that every 18 months, manufacturing advances cut the
size of a transistor in half. But this law has a limit which we are
approaching–the size of an atom.

Electronic devices either become smaller or more powerful. Increased
computing power lets you do more complex things. Increased
complexity increases the learning curve.

Ease of use is based on the craftsmanship of the software developer
and has zero relationship to the power of the hardware. CAD has been
around for 30 years. In that time, we’ve seen huge advancement, but
the people who say it is getting easier are selling smoke and
mirrors.

Of course a finished piece can be scanned/moulded and replicated

There are things that can’t be done in CAD. But anything that can
be cast can be done in CAD
.

What can’t? Well I would never CAD a tiffany head. I guarantee my
work and a casting wouldn’t be as strong as a hammer forged peg head.
I can do any pattern in CAD, but no amount of ‘terabytes of RAM’ will
allow a software program to use a torch to perform reticulation.


#18

I spend enough time on my computer doing emails, updating webstore,
doing my own photography/editing, updating info on classes and shows.
I spend more freaking time on the darn computer than I do at my
workbench these days. I don’t want to have to spend years learning to
use CAD and CAM when I can be more productive at my bench, creating
new things. I am lucky to get 10-20 hrs per week at my bench. too
much teaching and computer time these days.

Joy


#19

And a reasonable 2 cents worth it is too :slight_smile:

We don’t have 2 cent pieces in Australia anymore, the minimum
coinage is 5 cents, so I will have to give my 5 cents worth :smiley:

CAD is very good for mass producing many items, in many different
sizes from the same initial 3D object.

However CAD can be used as a tool to create precision pieces, and
can do things with a level of precision that the human hand simply
cannot match. CAD can be used to make one off intricate pieces that
are extremely delicate. If you use a fractal generator in your
designs you can get some very fluid, graceful and natural shapes.

It’s up to the level of experience of the operator.

Now a lot of the angst and ire about CAD workers on this list
assumes that the CAD operator knows nothing about jewellery
manufacture, and in a lot of cases this may be true. It’s not true in
all cases though. There are jewellers taking on CAD to assist them
manufacture jewellery. Does it save them time, yes it does once they
have a development cycle in place.

There are bonuses with using CAD as a tool in that you can play
before you make. Sure you can draw a ring, but can you take that
drawing and view it from any angle, see it in different lighting
setups? You can save you work or create a library of objects that can
be used at a later date. You can even sell your libraries to other
people.

A skilled jeweller will look upon CAD as just another tool, which is
what it is. However a lot of businesses only see CAD as a way to
save money, that’s really where the problem is.

I was chatting with some other jewellers about the grim state of the
jewellery industry in Australia, and they realise that one day hand
crafted jewellery manufacture will be a niche industry. If we love
the craft we’ll keep doing it regardless, I still do leatherwork and
blacksmithing :wink:

Regards Charles A.


#20
Leonid, you somehow manage to share the exact opposite of fact.
Moore's law says that every 18 months, manufacturing advances cut
the size of a transistor in half. But this law has a limit which we
are approaching--the size of an atom. 

I said that Moore’s Law still holding and it is. As far as future, I
have been reading that quantum computing becoming a reality. That
will up the ante significantly. I recall when spreadsheet software
was introduced. Bookkeepers were very happy because their work
suddenly became much easier. When was the last time anybody saw a
bookkeeper working ? They are all gone, totally replaced by
spreadsheet software.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com