The very best CAD software is made by Autodesk, and it priced
accordingly. Going downhill from there,
First off, yes “K” stands for kilo, but in English it’s used as
shorthand for thousand (which is what the the prefix kilo means).
So, $2K is $2,000. More clear.
And since Leonid points out that he knows little about CAM, his whole
posting really needs to be clarified, too. Autodesk once ruled the
CAD business and they are still major players. What they don’t rule,
and never have, is the CAM business. Autocad is still a major
program, but it’s essentially a drawing program. Autodesk scored a
major coup when they acquired Maya from Alias Wavefront, which was a
competitor of their own 3DsMax. The following has been written here
before, but it bears repeating.
Maya and others like it are ~mesh modelers~. Maya is what was used
to model and animate Shrek, all the Toy Stories, Antz and most
others. Maya makes “balloons” - shapes on the outside that have no
value (substance) on the inside. If you model a brick in Maya, it’s
a balloon in the shape of a brick. What you need - what you must
have - to do CAM is a solids modeler. Then, when you model a brick
the interior has the substance and value that the CAM system needs
to make the part. Nowadays there are translators that can take
output from Maya and turn it solid, but of course every time you
translate data you lose a bit or it can go strange on you. Rhino is
a solids modeler, and are Matrix and some others. You simply cannot
output your mesh data to your CAM program and expect it to work,
'cos it won’t
The premier CAD/CAM programs in the world right now are Catia and
Pro-E, which aren’t just expensive but far too bloated to make
jewelry with. Catia is also a CAE program - computer aide
engineering, and it’s also product lifecycle management software.
Boeing, Sony and GM use them to engineer parts, set up chains of
supply and warehousing and all of that stuff, all in one place. When
you see a car engine on television with all the pistons and things
running, that’s Catia, too. You can make all the parts of an engine
and tell Catia that it’s an engine and it will understand that it’s
an assembly. You can do animations and virtual product testing and
much more. Too much program, too much learning, too much money for
jewelry making even if you do always want the best.
Not being a CAM expert beyond observing the marketplace for quite a
few years, I’d say you can do a lot worse that Rhino to start out -
I’ve used it abit, it’s as easy as any CAD program can be. The
others (Matrix) are great programs, but they cost a LOT…
Povray is a rendering program. In fact it was the first ray-tracing
program out there that I know of. Not much use to anyone without a
modeling program to start with.