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Another Q on CAD/CNC


#1

Hi All,

All this recent talk about CAD and CNC has got me thinking
about my studio’s immediate future. About 4 years ago we had a
look at what’s available out there and weren’t impress with what
we saw. We felt it would be a good number of years before the
technology improves. And now with all the postings I’ve been
reading on this list, I guess it’s time to start asking
questions.

I’ve taken a glance at some of the CAD software available out
there; JewelCAD, ModelMaker and Rhino. I’ve heard a lot of talk
about ArtCAM too. Is there somewhere on the web that you folks
would recommend as a starting point for me to read about CAD and
CNC related stuff? Preferably with regards to jewelry. I’m
trying to understand the step-by-step way to approach from
design to finish product and right now I’m filled with gaps
especially after the design phase.

I’ve read that these CNC mills vary in prices but what are the
entry level ones in the $3-$4k range reliable for? I received a
catalog from MicroKinetics and their desktop mills range between
$2k and $4k. Looking at these machines, I have a funny feeling
that limitation is the keyword. If we are looking to design and
then only produce the model or one piece either in wax or metal,
where should we start looking? I would eventually like to be
able to put our various clasps and closure designs on such a
system…P.S. We’re a small design studio and if
we do produce, it’s usually in the low double digit quantities.
We have several years of experience on Corel Draw and
Illustrator and probably about 40 or so combine years of working
on various lathes.

Many thanks in advance.

Helmie A. Ashiblie
Tribeca Foundry, Inc.
http://www.tribeca-foundry.com/


#2

Helmie,

The truth is, that not many of the sophisticataed modelers
suitable for jewelry have directed much of their promotion or
development resources towards the jewelry industry. JewelCad
would be a notable exception, though I haven’t tried the software
myself. This technology is realitively new to the jewelry
industry. Much of it is relatively new period. It’s my
understanding that STL technology wasn’t even commercially
available until about ten years ago. I’ve seen samples of five
year old STL technology, and it really was not refined enough
for serious jewelry applications. Before the introduction of
faster, pentium level processors, access to large amounts of RAM,
and faster operating platforms like windows NT, The ability to do
complex 3D modeling was only available to folks with expensive
silicone graphics or unix workstations. I was home over the
holidays, and my dad’s four year old system is pretty much a
calculator compared to mine. Things are definately changing.

In addition to the programs you mentioned, you might want to
also look at solid works, SDRC Ideas master series, and SDRC
artisan. I’ve also heard of people using pro-engineer and
mechanical desktop. Most of these programs would provide you with
demos if asked, and on-line help features are very helpful, as
are on-line forums like this one. As the jewelry industry goes,
it’s a bit of a wild frontier at this time, though as you’ve
noticed, a number of folks are starting to focus their attention
on our industry.

hope that helps some,

Kim