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Beginning CAD/CAM


#1

I’m just beginning my career in the Jewelry industry and I’m looking
into using CAD/CAM software for some of my design work. I’ve
researched several products and I’m planning on trying some of their
downloadable trial software. However, I have not found much current
on what is leading the industry, so I thought I’d post
here to try and find out more.

I’d like to use the software to not only build my portfolio, but
also gain a marketable skill for the design industry. It looks like
there is quite a broad spectrum of choices out there, so I guess my
main question would be: Is learning one program over another going to
be more helpful to my career, or is learning the concepts and
techniques what I should be most concerned about?

Thanks in advance,

  • Erica

#2
my main question would be: Is learning one program over another
going to be more helpful to my career, or is learning the concepts
and techniques what I should be most concerned about? 

Hi Erica,

Although they share some basic concepts, each program has it’s own
indiocyrasies and specific methodology; so a general knowledge of CAD
concepts and techniques will only get you so far. You’ll have to learn
the specific tools of at least one program to gain a marketable skill
as a CAD artisan in the jewelry business.

CAD programs currently being used by jewelers include Rhinoceros,
TechGEMS, Matrix ( both are jewelry specific programs that run in
tandem with Rhinoceros), ArtCAM Jewelsmith, Solidworks, JewelCAD, and
3Design.

ZBrush, Modo, Silo, Cinema4D, and SoftimageXSI which aren’t as
popular among jewelers, also interest me, but I haven’t explored them
extensively. A friend recently showed me it’s possible to design
jewelry in Blender3D, (a free open-source 3D modeling, animation and
rendering program), but the interface seemed quite complicated upon
first glance.

It sounds as though you are a student, so I’d suggest Rhino since
it’s the most affordable among the prevalent 3D applications used by
jewelers. You can find it discounted on re-seller’s sites for about
$500. A student version is much less and has the same functionality. It
has a very intuitive, easy to use interface, as CAD programs go.

To see what’s possible to create with the program, check out: the
jewelry galleries at:

http://gallery.mcneel.com/?language=en&g=4
http://gallery.mcneel.com/?language=en&g=38

If you can afford it, Rhino with TechGems would be even better.
Flamingo, a rendering engine specific to Rhino, is also useful for
creating photo-realistic 2D images of your 3D designs, although
Rhino’s native renderers; Rhino Render and TreeFrog Render, will
suffice to create simpler 2D images of CAD model.

If you have a good understanding of Rhino, it won’t be difficult to
adapt to other programs such as Matrix or JewelSmith. I can provide
live online Rhino training sessions using GoToMyPC, if you’re
interested.

There is also a free CAD/CAM forum for jewelers on
www.jckmarketplace.com where you can do some additional research.

Very best regards,
Jesse Kaufman
www.jdkjewelry.com


#3
I'd like to use the software to not only build my portfolio, but
also gain a marketable skill for the design industry. It looks like
there is quite a broad spectrum of choices out there, so I guess my
main question would be: Is learning one program over another going
to be more helpful to my career, or is learning the concepts and
techniques what I should be most concerned about? 

I think your last thought is a good one. Learning how to use CAD
software is not like learning hand-engraving or other manual skills.
Even a single software program can mutate significantly from one
version to the next, so you have to keep re-learning whatever skills
you’ve developed with it. New programs are introduced all the time,
and familiar ones can go obsolete, be absorbed by other companies,
or simply be abandoned. If you’re looking for employment, you can’t
count on a potential employer having the particular set of software
you’ve become used to. Fortunately, most employers realize this, and
are prepared to train an employee on the type of technology they
currently use. Being adaptable is a plus. If you have design ideas of
your own, try out various downloadable software products and see
which of them facilitate making the sorts of things you favor. When
you find one that suits the way your mind works, then get it (it’s
often possible to get a deep discount if you’re a student) and dig
in.

CAM software is basically for producing your designs on a CNC
milling machine, although there are also programs for CNC lathes. If
you get a CNC mill, you will need it, otherwise you should probably
concentrate on designing, at least initially. There are Rapid
Prototyping service bureaus that can produce your designs for you,
and these afford greater design freedom than the CAM/CNC route. Of
course, there are advantages to the CAM/CNC approach too, such as
better manufacturability for your patterns, a wider selection of
materials you can use, less costly basic materials, and the ability
to keep everything in-house. The advisability of getting into it
depends on how you like to spend your time, the amount you have to
invest, and the suitability of your designs to the process.

Andrew Werby
www.computersculpture.com


#4

Erica,

Please make sure that 3Design Jewel (www.3designjewel.com) is among
the different software solutions you will try. A Free trial version
is available on the website.

It won’t be impartial for me to compare the different 3D Jewelry
Software products that exist since I am involved with one of them,
3DESIGN as the US West Coast distributor. But one thing is sure,
since 3Design was introduced in the USA last year, we have seen a
very favorable reaction from jewelry manufacturers, designers and
retailers who decided to trust 3Design as their Jewelry CAD solution.
When I ask them why 3Design, the words that come back the more often
are Easy-of-use, powerful and intuitive.

The question you are asking is very interesting:

“Is learning one program over another going to be more helpful to my
career, or is learning the concepts and techniques what I should be
most concerned about?”

Without doubt I will say that learning the concepts and techniques
are more important since software packages are constantly improving,
new products are always released and what is true today may not be
next year. Also, you don’t always choose what software solutions the
company you want to work for is currently using.

I think that you should use the software that you feel the more
comfortable with; the one that you think will not limit your
imagination and design skills. That’s why I always recommend trying
as many software as possible. Most of leading solutions already
provide working demos on their website. After just playing a few days
or maybe a week, you will certainly keep 2 or 3 as your favorites.
After this first cut, several other factors will come into action
like pricing, technical support, training that will help you decide
which solutions is best suited for you and your designs.

If you can’t still decide, why not trying to get the training before
actually buying the product itself. After 3-4 days training on a
software, you can really see it in real action instead of just
trusting a salesperson and well-rehearsed demonstrations. :wink:

I hope this will help you. Good luck in your jewelry career.

Regards,
Cyril


#5

TEchgems also has a student discount I believe. I haven’t ever used
it book it looks helpful. I personally use ArtCAM JS for most of my
stuff, but its definitely not the cheapest. Cadwax.com used to have
some free tutorials on jewelry making with rhino. I don’t know if
they’re still there or not.


#6

ok the dreaded question, is there a decent cad/cam app for jewelers
on a MAC?


#7

Heather,

I am sure that you will be delighted to hear (like many other
jewelry designers who use MAC) that 3Design Jewel Software
(www.3designjewel.com ) is also available on MAC.

To enjoy all the features of the latest version V4.1 of 3Design, you
will need to run the latest MAC OS X 10.4.2 but to use the trial
version available on the website MAC OS X 10.3 will work just fine.

Cyril Saelens
3Design Software Solutions
Tel: 213-624-6321


#8

In regards to a CAD programs that run on a MAC, there’s quite a bit
of reading available on architoshforums.forest.net Check out the
sub-topic: Industrial Design 3D

Besides being suitable for jewelry design, it’s important that a
software program has a community of users who speak the language of
CAD jewelry design, or you’ll be on your own in terms of learning
strategies to draw jewelry models with it.

I get a lot of help and support from jewelers on the Rhino
newsgroup. Not to be flippant, but your question of a CAD program for
MAC users comes up on the Rhino newsgroup every so often and
invariably someone comes up with the suggestion of a basic windows
box and a copy of Rhino. :wink:

Regards,

Jesse Kaufman
www.jdkjewelry.com
www.apersonalmemory.com


#9

Hi Cyril

I am sure that you will be delighted to hear (like many other
jewelry designers who use MAC) that 3Design Jewel Software
(www.3designjewel.com ) is also available on MAC. 

I was told about this program early this year and, yes, I was
delighted.

To enjoy all the features of the latest version V4.1 of 3Design,
you will need to run the latest MAC OS X 10.4.2 but to use the
trial version available on the website MAC OS X 10.3 will work just
fine. 

I downloaded the demo about two months ago. To my dismay it wouldn’t
install on my portable home mac (PB 500/OS 9.2.2) so I tried my mac
at work. Running on a 1GHz G4 with 2 GB memory and OSX 10.3 was not
a good solution because it was very slow. Obviously not a good
combination.

I tried OSX 10.4 when it came out but it made the machine sluggish
so I reinstalled 10.3

It’s a pity 3Design do not seem aware that many mac users don’t
upgrade the harware and install the latest software ever so often
and are keeping their computers longer than PC owners usually do.
After installing and spending an evening with the software I was
unfortunately too busy the next 9 days and then the 10 day trial was
over.

The moral is to have a sufficiently powerful mac=the newest hardware
with latest updates to the operating system, and preferably a week
to spare.

michaela


#10

I Use Vectorworks and Cinema4D on the Mac. I have models made from my
Vectorworks files from both milling machines and 3D printers / rapid
prototyping machines. I have tried the 3Design Jewel and it looks
like a good program but I have not bought it as for now Vectorworks
has met my needs.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#11

Dear Michaela,

My name is Balsamo, I’m a sales rep. for 3DESIGN in Switzerland. I
just heard about the problem you had to download 3DESIGN from your
Mac. The problem definitly comes from your mac configuration, lots of
my Mac users customers run, at least, on G4 1.42Ghz (that’s the very
minimum configuration) be sure it runs perfectly.

Check also you video card. This is one of the most important
hardware components for doing 3D design. 3DESIGNl uses open GL to
display pixels. The sharpness and speed of the display will depend on
the video card. 3DESIGN works with any video card running open GL
system graphics. Nvidia is recommended, but ATI is also a good
choice, and often proposed by Apple.

Please check your video card and retry, I’m sure Sandrine from the
web assistance will kindly help you to re try.

3DESIGN is a very powerful program which needs powerful equipment.
It’s a pity to design on a very modern software running on an
outdated equipment.

For me, these are the Mac recommended configurations.

Processor CPU: PowerPC G5 2.0Ghz
Memory : 128MB DDR Open GL
Video Card : 250 GB
Hard Drive :160GB
Screen Sizes :1680x1050
xScreen Size :20-inch
MacOs X 3.9 or higher

Be sure 3DESIGN is the best solution for jewelry and fine jewelry
design, believe me 3DESIGN is booming in Europe and since a long time
in Asia.

Hope you will fine THE best solution for your needs;

Kind regards

E.Balsamo
www.3designjewel.com