hello i am looking into purchasing a cad/cam i hear a lot about the
roland machine does anyone have any suggestions? software is a big
obstacle as well there are several on the market and i don’t have a
clue about the best one. if anyone can point me towards some info.
or resources i would be grateful. thanks, charles
hello i am looking into purchasing a cad/cam i hear a lot about the
There is a ton of on CAD/CAM. A great source for review
is Manufactures Jewelers and Suppliers of America, INC. many articles
on the subject. My “opinion” on mills is the Mini Tech choice in
mills. Great price, great customer service (minitech.com).
I use Delcam Jewelsmith and Modelmaster Mills. They are both
expensive but, they are highly accurate and JS can do really
incrediable things. You have to get training, and you have to give
yourself some learning curve. I don’t care who says you cam make
sellable items after a weeks training. All of my pieces looked like
extruded turds for monthes.
There was an article in the MJSA magazine last year about mills, MM
was rated very highly, it rated five or six mills Roland included;
you might look up the article.
Good Luck, Dennis
I use and recommend a Roland MDX-15 mill, comes with all the CNC
software you will need.
My design software is Rhino 4.0.
Look at http://www.3dwaxmill.com
A lot of people have been happy with the the smaller Roland machine.
It’s built very smartly, in fact, it borrows some technology from
inkjet printers…my only hesitation is that an injet printer work
as it should for 4-5 years and then you just throw it away because
it’s not practical to get parts or have it repaired. A friend of mine
took delivery of a Roland last year and being curious about this new
milling machine on the market, we carefully took it apart.
Surprisingly, the axes are driven by plastic belts, the gears are
also plastic and the main structure of the machine is cut out of a
relatively thin gauge of sheet metal.It does look nice however,
which is interesting because given the choice between a product that
has a slick design and one that may be built better, but is somewhat
lacking aesthetically, shoppers will often pick the stylish one.
I’ve been using a Modelmaster CNC 1000, which has never won any
beauty contests, but it has be proven to be reliable over time. It
was about 4 1/2 years old when I got it and it’s never let me down in
the 5 years that I’ve had it. Maybe I’m unduly amazed by small
things, but I really appreciate the fact that it still cuts beautiful
parts as accurately as the day I got it.
It really gives meaning to the words " durable goods"
Re: Roland Mill vs Modelmaster
According to Roland the plastic belts completely eliminate the
backlash problem found in lead screw driven mills. I have found with
other equipment I have purchased over the years - even high end
stuff - that it is a good idea to determine what parts which will
required in the future and buy them with the machine. The
consequences of not doing so are that if the machine is discontinued
or the company ceases to exist the parts will no longer be available
“Plastic” is still often seen as a sign of low quality and sometimes
this may be. However, there are plastics out there - and I hope
Roland is using them - which are as durable as metal when put to use
within the parameters the machine is designed for. Consequently, a
machine like the JWX10, which is designed for cutting wax only, will
most likely go a long time on the supplied power train.
As for the lightweight metal construction: the absolute rigidity and
strength of the construction are not the issue, you don’t need cast
iron and hardened steel to maintain rigidity when cutting wax and, as
noted, the Roland only cuts wax.
For what it’s worth,
my only hesitation is that an injet printer work as it should for 4-5 years and then you just throw it away because it's not practical to get parts or have it repaired. A friend of mine
I had a discussion last week with a well-known Orchidian about CNC
machines, again. My grief and my complaint? You can buy a CNC milling
machine in industry for $20 - $50,000. It will weigh 2 tons, have
every bell and whistle - tool changers, precision everything, steel
everything, built-in coolant, on and on. So, the most yearned for CMC
machine in jewelry (the one that’s linked to Matrix 3d) costs $20,000
- the Roland is $9,995. They weigh 150 lbs, and don’t have anything
included. Why should a toy machine cost the same as a real one? My
own answer is, somebody’s making a lot of money, and they want it to
be at my expense, and I resent that. In fact, it’s the main reason I
haven’t bitten, yet. I’ve looked into building one myself - the parts
run $800 - $1200, or much less, if you want that. So how does $800
worth of parts turn into $20,000? Somebody’s making a lot of money,
in my book. Anyway, just a bit of a rant…
I have had my Roland MDX-15 for two (2) years. I estimate that it
has over 3,000 hours of use, and never any problems at all. I
sometimes run it for 24-48 hours straight on complex milling jobs.
Indeed, there are several CAD jewelry software available today. The
first advice I can give you is to see a detailed demonstration of
each of them. This should give you a very good feeling of which
software package seems to be for you the most user-friendly, powerful
and fun to work with.
I represent the 3DESIGN software (www.3design.com) for the US West
coast which is today the only 3D Jewelry Design Software that:
Works on multi-platforms: PC and MAC
Features a built-in construction history that automatically
recalculates models after changing finger size, stones size, shank
Allows user to create 3D models from hand-drawing scanned in
And much more…
If you are located in the US West Coast, please contact me at
(213)-624-6321 at your earliest convenience so that we can schedule
an online demonstration and you can actually see 3Design Software in
If you are located in the East Coast, you can contact the Atlanta
office at 678-904-2909.
Look forward to hearing from you soon.
3Design Software Solutions
I have the Gemvision Matrix 5.4 program and need to learn how to use
it. Does anyone know someone who could teach me in the Los Angeles
area? My schedule is flexible. Thanks!
In almost every case once a tool that is commonly used in another
area is promoted as a jeweler’s tool the price increases
I agree most jewelry mills are overpriced, but you wont get much
bang for the buck for 800-1200 dollars.
A good spindle alone will cost more than that, not to mention decent
ballscrews or linear guides.
I feel like the cad/cam industry for jewelers is headed more towards
the growing machines and mills will be obsolute in a few years.
A lot of people have been happy with the the smaller Roland machine. It's built very smartly, in fact, it borrows some technology from inkjet printers...my only hesitation is that an injet printer work as it should for 4-5 years and then you just throw it away because it's not practical to get parts or have it repaired. A friend of mine took delivery of a Roland last year and being curious about this new milling machine on the market, we carefully took it apart. Surprisingly, the axes are driven by plastic belts, the gears are also plastic and the main structure of the machine is cut out of a relatively thin gauge of sheet metal.It does look nice however, which is interesting because given the choice between a product that has a slick design and one that may be built better, but is somewhat lacking aesthetically, shoppers will often pick the stylish one.
Intelligent engineering is all about choosing materials and
processes that give the best result for the least resources, while
making sure that performance is optimized for the money spent.
There’s nothing wrong with plastic, properly used, while thin sheet
can work just as well as thicker material in applications where
thicker material isn’t really necessary. And one hardly needs to take
off points for an attractive appearance.
I've been using a Modelmaster CNC 1000, which has never won any beauty contests, but it has be proven to be reliable over time. It was about 4 1/2 years old when I got it and it's never let me down in the 5 years that I've had it. Maybe I'm unduly amazed by small things, but I really appreciate the fact that it still cuts beautiful parts as accurately as the day I got it. It really gives meaning to the words " durable goods"
While it’s nice that you’re happy with your Modelmaster, there’s
probably a reason you had to wait to buy it until you found a used
one. Since a brand-new Roland JWX-10 is about half the price of a new
Modelmaster, someone else with the same amount to spend could get
started right now, and get beautiful parts right away. (I just got
one and made my first part - it came out great.)
A hammer can be judged by its materials, and a used one will
probably work just as well as an equivalent-looking used one. But
when you buy a complicated machine you’re buying more than pieces of
metal (and plastic); it’s a promise that it will perform a certain
function. That’s a promise you have a hard time enforcing when you
buy a second-hand machine - you’re doing well to recover money for a
machine that’s dead on arrival, much less one that quits a year
later. You evidently were fortunate, but it’s not certain that
everyone else who buys used machinery will share your good luck.
A new Roland machine comes with a warranty, so one is assured that
it will work for at least a year. (One could buy many years of
extended warranties before equalizing the price differential between
the Modelmaster and the JWX-10.) Since these machines are relatively
new on the market, nobody really knows how long they’ll last, but the
availability of parts from Roland, a major international company, has
never been an issue. I’m sure the Modelmaster is a fine machine, but
it’s not necessary to disparage other alternatives in order to praise
the one you’ve chosen. As you say, a lot of people have been happy
with it - what’s wrong with that?
I feel like the cad/cam industry for jewelers is headed more towards the growing machines and mills will be obsolute in a few years.
Hmm, probably not. I have a book on clock maker’s tools from the
17th century. You could find some of the same items in any jeweler’s
studio today. I wouldn’t dismiss CNC milling machines as obsolete
technology. Though few people use quill pens, people still use
pencils, fountain pens and roller balls. It is just as likely that
Stereo lithography would be replaced. My guess is as the technology
matures, both types of rapid prototyping machines will become less
expensive, and more commonly used within the industry. The cost of
3D printers has halved, and there are some inexpensive mills that
allow people to cut parts. Too bad the Lithography machines can’t
grow items directly in the metal alloy of choice. Then we would see a
rapid move to the technology. Hmm, RP with something akin to
no-shrink precious metal clay? Program and bake that setting? Who
knows what the future will settle on. What is unlikely is that the
average consumer is going to buy RP technology to make their own
jewelry, at least in the near future. Not everyone can design a
lovely piece of jewelry.
My reply to to John Donivan’s rant–
I absolutely agree. I think everyone in the arts/crafts business who
needs tools or equipment should first check the industrial suppliers
like MSC, Rutland Tool, Enco and Grainger first. They all have
online catalogs. You can sometimes get the same thing or something
that will do the job for much, much cheaper. Most of what I do is
metal art, welding and blacksmithing with some stained glass work so
my tool needs are more similar to industrial needs. But still, I
remember seeing a jig for wire bending in an online stained glass
catalog for $15.99 that sold for $3.99 at Harbor Freight. It was
nothing but a block of steel with holes and grooves in it and
probably cost a few cents to make beyond the cost of the steel. I
know Harbor Freight made money on it, so why the huge mark-up at the
glass place? Blacksmith tools are sometimes a bit pricey too, but a
lot of us come from industrial backgrounds so the difference is not
so great because most of have a good idea of what things should cost.
I know there are additional costs stocking smaller amounts of
inventory, but please!
So listen to Mr. Donivan–industrial suppliers have vibratory
tumblers, ovens for annealing, various size lathes, Foredom machines,
all sorts of air tools, welders, fluxes, diamond and steel burrs,
etc. Check there first and see if you can’t do better on price.
I agree most jewelry mills are overpriced, but you wont get much bang for the buck for 800-1200 dollars
Ken, you misunderstood what I said. I didn’t say that the machines
are that price, but that the parts are. HeRe:
Motor drives (X 3) These are the best you can buy: $114 x3 = $342
Here’s your stepper motors (for $20,000 it BETTER have servos,
though!) 640 in/oz will do it for wax, easily: 3 x $89 = $267
And here’s your slides: http://www.marchantdice.com/linear/ Let’s be
generous and say that you pay $150 each for three of them (you can
pay much less). So that’s $450. If you want to go with ball screws,
those are around $50 each for the nuts, and like $1-2/inch for the
screw stock, and then mountings. Total of the above is $881. If you
look at many of the machines for sale, they’re not making a spindle,
they’re just bolting on a high speed tool, many people use a certain
router motor that I can’t remember the model of - it’s small and easy
to mount, that’s around $100. So at this point cost is around $1000.
Then you need to throw in a $20 power supply and the mounting
infrastructure and worktable and all, which will vary by design, but
you’re still looking at $1500 worth of stuff, at most. AND THAT’S
RETAIL. Cut that number in half or even less for a manufacturer. Now,
I have no objection whatever to someone building a nice turnkey
machine and selling it and making money - I’ll buy it myself. I can
see taking that $750 worth of parts and selling a $4500 machine, sure
- and I’d have no objection to buying it. But you can buy a new car
for $20,000, and believe me, a $20,000, 250 pound milling machine
that’s just x,y,z is not the same thing. Yeah, precision, yeah, mass
production. But a car isn’t 10 times more complex than the miller,
it’s 10,000 times more complicated. I know when I’m being
You are right about the toy machines, Try this one for size:
Stumbled across it some time ago and intended to pass it on. Sorry
it took so long. This is the machine that I would buy if I didn’t
already have a $100,000+ Swiss Willeman-Macodel sitting in the middle
of my studio. That beauty took a week to break down for the freight
elevator and then reassemble, (never again). As with any less
expensive machine there has to be some compromise, but the tormach
Personal CNC 1100 for $6,800 appears to be the best balance of price
and performance around. In truth I’m still trying figure out how
they manage so much for so little. Maybe someone else can pick it
apart, but it looks good from a distance. An added bonus is that you
can use standard machining accessories to fit it out.
Dennis Smith - thejewelmaker
Too bad the Lithography machines can't grow items directly in the metal alloy of choice. Then we would see a rapid move to the technology. Hmm, RP with something akin to no-shrink precious metal clay? Program and bake that setting? Who knows what the future will settle on.
Actually, it’s closer than we think. Prometal does 3-D metal
printing using powdered steel and a laser-activated binder.
but the tormach Personal CNC 1100 for $6,800 appears to be the best balance of price
Yeah, Dennis, that does look good - I’ve heard of Tormach before,
but never actually went to their site. Only 3 axis for that model,
though, but I’m sure that could be fixed…
I wouldn't dismiss CNC milling machines as obsolete technology. Though few people use quill pens
I have to agree with Rick, here. At this point in time RP is
expensive, slow(er) and very technical for the operator - also high
maintenance. CNC milling is fast, cheap and easy, not to mention that
there are millions of machines out there. If you look around wherever
you are sitting probably almost everything you see was made with some
sort of CNC somewhere in it’s birth - pencils, pens, computer parts
molds for plastic parts, on and on. It is established, mature, and