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CAD/CAM waxcutter


#1

Has anyone tried this machine (waxcutter.net)? Looks like a
different approach to cad/cam as it uses perspective drawings instead
of 3D software. What do you think?

Chas Hofmeister,


#2
Has anyone tried this machine (waxcutter.net)? Looks like a
different approach to cad/cam as it uses perspective drawings
instead of 3D software. What do you think? 

I think that it is intereresting from the standpoint that is is
particularly small. It also appears to be pretty cheap. I am sure
that it will do a good job, still.

I am wondering what this difference between perspective drawings and
3D software are? I use Rhino and when it suits me, I draw in the
perspective window.

Bruce D. Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Benchjeweler


#3

I use this machine almost daily. It’s great for me because it’s so
simple. Both the machine and the software are super easy to learn
and work with. It seems to have just the right amount of bells and
whistles. I still like to do hand waxes for more sculptural pieces,
but the machine helps immensely for anything with symmetry,
repetition, stone setting,…many many things. I’d recommend it.

Emily Wigre


#4

I still like to do hand waxes for more sculptural pieces, but the
machine helps immensely for anything with symmetry, repetition, stone
setting,…many many things. I’d recommend it.

How about surface finish. Do you do any pre casting finish work?

Chas Hofmeister,


#5

Isn’t the software very similar to Delcam’s Artcam? That certainly
uses the concept of using colours to define areas and levels with
each colour being assigned a cut depth and profile. It also uses the
’unwrapped ring’ system of rotary work design. Maybe Waxcam is a
stripped down or previous version of Artcam?

Best wishes,
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


#6
Isn't the software very similar to Delcam's Artcam? That certainly
uses the concept of using colours to define areas and levels with
each colour being assigned a cut depth and profile. It also uses
the 'unwrapped ring' system of rotary work design. Maybe Waxcam is
a stripped down or previous version of Artcam? 

When I look at some of the CAD-CAM sites offering design programs or
RP machines to jewelers, I notice a significant lack of creativity in
the examples of what the products can produce. Mostly I see items
that
could be fabricated or carved by hand in a relatively short period of
time.

ArtCAM is much more sophisticated than the design software described
on the Waxcam website. You can work with vectors or bitmaps (colors)
to produce the profiles and contours of the z axis. For the price,
however, the Waxcam is an interesting machine, though probably less
versatile than a CNC Taig or Max NC for roughly the same money. The
design software is very simple, once you get used to the
idiosyncrasies of its interface. It is also a integrated machine and
software package.

There is a relatively steep learning curve to ArtCAM, and quite a
few holes in its software manuals, including a serious lack of
indexing. ArtCAM allows pixel level control over the surface, and
includes image software to convert grey level images into reliefs. It
also outputs code to a huge selection of CNC routers, mills, and 3D
printers.

Rick Hamilton


#7

SO… i am reading the comments abot this particular cad/cam system i
looked at and read the site that bruce listed and i am wondering
about the reference on the site that this is a MAC-BASED product.
since ive not seen mention of this in the replies in the thread about
these cad cam products i am wondering are there macintosh as well as
pc based systems and programming. is this part of the answer to the
question ?, or is the simplicity offered by the waxcutter make it a
system that is best suited to less complicated designs -goo


#8

For the price of the Waxcutter at (http://www.waxcutter.net) ($3,700)
folks would be better served to buy a Roland MDX-15 or MDX-20 ($2,295
and $3,498 respectively) - proven, solid machines, with easy to use
software.

All of the works on this website were cut in Ferris green wax using
a Roland MDX-15:
http://www.dragonflybridge.com/Jewelry

And for you large scale sculptors, this 18 inch cast bronze plaque
was first cut in twelve (12) pieces of 4" x 6" blocks of Ferris green
was, again using an MDX-15:
http://dragonflybridge.com/Ring/ClassCrestWebPage/Crest.html

Jon of DFB Studios


#9

Hello,

I’m not sure who to address this to but the price for waxcutter is
$3,700. We do have a very different approach to cad/cam. It does not
use perspective drawings to design with although the drawings are
used in part to explain what 2 1/2 D is. The instruction part of our
website has a complete explanation of how Waxcutter works. I will be
adding a bit more to the website later tonight.The idea is to be as
easy to learn and use as possible without sacrificing utitility. The
machine is not expensive, but it is properly made. We have been
using several variations of it for eight years with no mechanical
problems other than rust on one machine. That is no longer a problem.
Where are you from? I wonder if you are close enough for a demo?
Thanks for your interest,

John Winters
waxcutter.net


#10

Just to put my oar in, about Roland carving machines and the
Waxcutter, it is important to compare like with like. The two main
variations of machine are three axis and four axis, ie one basically
does flat things and the other can cut around a round shape. There
are ways round this, and also attachments but these take more skill
or money or both. You will need software to design your models, and
other software to turn this into code to tell the machine where to
cut. These are respectively 3d modelling software and Postprocessing
software, the Roland has the second but not the first. Waxcutter
apppears to have both, (but I have not used it so I am guessing) I
think it is great for a new person to come into the market, the
systems that work the best will win out in the end, and it all
sparks interest and development, but some price comparisons can be a
little misleading, and some software can be easier and more versatile
than another. By the way I was most impressed with the large bronze
plaque Jon, well done ! I bet you were worried in advance that it
wouldn’t all fit together!

regards Tim Blades.


#11

Can you tell me more about the Roland MDX 15 system? It looks like
the machine does not have a 4th axis. Do you need other add on
equipment? What kind of software comes with the unit or are you
using a cad program like artcam or Hemvision Matrix?

Thanks,
Robert


#12

Hi All;

I saw the Waxcutter demo’d at the Buffalo conference. I think it
fills a niche. It’s dirt simple to work in. The modeling program can
be learned, literally, in less than an hour. Obviously, it won’t do
what a full blown CAD program will do, but for those of us who do
most of our carving by hand and don’t have the time or money to get
into a high end mill and sophisticated software, it looks like a very
useful tool. It cuts excellent detail. It’s a small machine. I’m
thinking of getting one. I’d be using it to cut things like channel
bands, bands with continuous patterns, cluster type settings,
anything that’s difficult to carve because of it’s detail or
requirement of precision. I’m sure, after a couple years, I’d be
looking into a more elaborate machine and software, but I could make
money with the Waxcutter. Usual disclaimer here.

David L. Huffman


#13

Hi David,

I saw the Waxcutter demo'd at the Buffalo conference. I think it
fills a niche. It's dirt simple to work in. The modeling program
can be learned, literally, in less than an hour. Obviously, it
won't do what a full blown CAD program will do, but for those of us
who do most of our carving by hand and don't have the time or money
to get into a high end mill and sophisticated software, it looks
like a very useful tool. It cuts excellent detail. It's a small
machine. I'm thinking of getting one. I'd be using it to cut things
like channel bands, bands with continuous patterns, cluster type
settings, anything that's difficult to carve because of it's detail
or requirement of precision. 

The Waxcutter system looks very easy to master, but from what I can
gather, it only does flat surfaces or flat in relation to a ring
circumference. So for instance, you would not use it for making domed
beads on a ring. There are pros and cons to a very simple design
program, but you could probably get some interesting results if you
put some time into a design using the Waxcutter system

A skilled artist can draw a passable likeness of the Mona Lisa using
MS Paint.

If Leonardo DaVinci were alive today, he’d probably be using
PhotoShop. Well… maybe not, but you get the idea :slight_smile: Chances are,
he would be using some kind of technology. In addition to being a
painter and sculptor, he was a mathematician, architect, engineer,
scientist and inventor, so CAD/CAM would have been right up his
alley.

Would he have been inspired to paint the the Mona Lisa if had he used
modern technology? Maybe not. It was a different time, so it’s hard
to say…but it’s interesting to think about.

My point is, I think the overall intention of the WaxCutter is a
good one, which is to provide a simple-to-use CAD/CAM system, but I’d
be more enthused about it, if it could do “full 2.5d” That is;
imparting curvature to a surface as well as depth of cut.

Without taking away from what the Waxcutter is intended to do, it’s
my belief that one can easily learn to design the simple type of
designs that you’re talking about in MoI.

If a complete beginner can click on icons representing circles and
rectangles and enter numerical values for diameters, widths and
lengths into a dialog box; they can realistically make a channel band
in 5-10 minutes.

MoI does simple sweeps dynamically, so aside from starting the circle
at the origin of the workspace, which is pretty much automatic
anyway, there’s not even anything to line up.

You could learn to design eternity bands in a few weeks, as well as
those simple “precision” type of components that would be laborious
to do by hand and then combine them with hand carved parts.

Even if you sent out models for someone else to grow or mill at
first, and then picked up an affordable mill, you’d spend less in the
long run and have the potential for more design options and develop
CAD skills in a program that allows for greater creative expansion,
sharing similar tool-sets and compatibility with other CAD software.

I know the general consensus is that it takes a good year to become
proficient in CAD, but I think MoI will change that for a lot of
people. Jewelers who have been stymied by Rhino, find it very simple
to use.

I guess I’m very passionate about teaching people to make the most of
this technology, so if you’d like to email me one of the "simple"
designs you had in mind, I’ll write a MoI video tutorial.

Jesse
http://jdkjewelry3d.blogspot.com


#14

Hi Jesse;

... The Waxcutter system looks very easy to master, but from what
I can gather, it only does flat surfaces or flat in relation to a
ring circumference.. 

I believe you are correct. What I saw it do, it did well, as far as
accuracy, detail, speed. Of course, this is all relative to what I
expect a machine in this price range to do. I appreciate the offer of
help. I have a demo copy of Rhino I play with from time to time, and
I’ll download the beta of MoI and check it out. You have to
understand the way I think as a businessman. For instance, I’ve
worked with lasers and they are great. They are also expensive. I’m
suspicious that the newer less expensive ones might be underpowered.
The sales people insist they’re not. Eventually I’ll hear from the
users. But even if they are good, they are way over my budget even at
15 grand. I bought a PUK 2. It’s a difficult machine to use, and it’s
certainly not a laser. Why did I get it? Well, it does things for me
I can’t do any other way short of a laser, at a tenth the cost. I’m
using it all the time now. Yes, a laser will do more and do it better
and faster. But the PUK will increase my cash flow and get me closer
to buying the laser, and when I get one, I’ll get a good one.

Same thing goes for CNC. I want something that I can use, maybe only
here and there, but right away. I’ll find plenty of situations where
it will come in handy and make me the money I’ll need to get a good
mill and powerful software plus take some classes on how to use it.
At that time I’ll want a serious machine, versatile, accurate, and
powerful. What kind of money are we talking about to get a working
copy of Rhino/Matrix, CAM software to drive the mill that works, a
quality mill, and fairly comprehensive training in CAD? I’m guessing
at least 30 grand. Or is it way more than that for anything better
than a hobbyist’s toy?

David L. Huffman


#15

There has been some speculation about waxcutter and what it can and
cannot do.

The idea behind Waxcutter is make a wax carving tool that is as easy
as possible to learn and use without sacrificing utility. We don’t
think of Waxcutter as giving you a ready to cast model, although it
often does. It is a tool that will get you 90-95% there. Our software
is original, it is not derived from any other source and it works
only with Mac OS10.4. Incidentally, the system was described in
Orchid about five years ago.

A close look at the instruction and gallery sections of our website
will show that waxcutter is capable of and adept at creating a wide
range of designs. This specifically includes convex and concave
curves and surfaces.

The limitations of Waxcutter are the same as other similar
subtractive machines, mainly the inability to easily handle
undercuts and the design compromises required by the cutting tool
geometry. Waxcutter does not offer rendering however the artwork in
the graphic box is useful when talking to customers. There is no
library of geometric shapes or parts of jewelry such as prongs that
can be used to design with, these are drawn as needed. A library
could be created with useful shapes as they are developed. Computer
graphic skills are needed to effectively use Waxcutter, and that is
why we left the graphic program choice open. There are many programs
to choose from. The website reliance on Colorit is for those who are
starting from scratch and don’t have the graphic skills needed. For
them (and others) it works well.

We are aware that our software and milling machine is not compatible
with other systems. It is stand alone, and our eight years of
experience designing custom jewelry with it tells us that is
sufficient.

Thank you, John
John Winters


#16
We are aware that our software and milling machine is not
compatible with other systems. It is stand alone, and our eight
years of experience designing custom jewelry with it tells us that
is sufficient. 

where can I find more info about your Software?


#17

Hello all!

I want to first say that I’m sorry for not chiming into this thread
sooner, as I have quite a bit to add here, it’s just that I wanted
to make sure I had proper time to give this the attention it
deserves, rather than a short sound byte. I have the first generation
of machines from Wax-Cutter. I purchased the machine a little over 6
years ago, and have made it the cornerstone of my wax carving
business. (Blue Star Wax Carving, by the way). The machine paid for
itself within the first year, and this was with me just learning what
I was doing. This was also with a much earlier software version that
allowed only one layer at a time. The software that it uses now is
great, and easy to use and learn! I had only done hand wax carving
prior to this, and still do carving by hand when the job dictates it.
Having Cad-Cam is simply another phenomenal tool to have on your
workbench. I don’t have an exact number of waxes carved, but I’m
going to bet that it’s been at least a thousand, 3-4/ week for the
last 6 years. And that’s just in my own business.

I also work for another jeweler 3 days a week that has the same
machine that I do, and was purchased at the same time as mine. So, I
can speak to this as not only running my own business, but also how
the machine can be used in a business of fine jewelry production. It
is a small custom jewelry store that has a very good history and
clientele. They brought me on primarily because they had bought the
machine but didn’t quite have the time to use it to it’s full
potential, and I had already mastered the machine by this point. I
carve about 3 waxes a week on their machine, and we use it there for
many stock pieces, as well as custom. We also use it quite a bit for
logo jewelry for local companies. Ok, enough history. I was able to
learn and use the machine within days, and am constantly pushing the
envelope with it. I able to do square shanks, up-shanks, cluster
settings, celtic-knot patterns, anniversary bands, fitted 2 and 3
tone rings, and many more things with the machine. This machine is
not just for making patterns on rings, or flat logo type pieces. It
has so much more to offer. When I get a job that requires symmetry,
or a complex pattern, I will definitely see to carve it on the
machine. Even if I have to hand carve after, to add sculptural
effects or whatnot, I will do the base ring on the machine.

I also have been very happy with the support that you get with
wax-cutter, I’ve always been able to get help and advice if I get
stuck, and am now happy to give it if someone else gets stuck. I feel
very fortunate to have been involved with this company and am very
eager to give back. As to how Wax-Cutter stands up to all of the
other machines out there, I cannot speak to that. I can say however,
that I went to a Cad-Cam casting lecture given by Tech-form, where
they were outlining issues in Cad-Cam and the particular set of
problems that it poses to casting. I am unable to find the exact
article that they had written, but it was published in the MJSA
publication. I do run into issues where I can carve things too
intricate for casting, and also dealing with shrinkage and the like.
It was a great lecture to go to, and I got to see how the
subtractive-type mill stacks up to the other types of Cam additive
methods. My Wax-Cutter was on par with all examples given of
subtractive mill examples there. There will always be some evidence
of the fact that you are using a mill, with stepper motors, and a
pyramid shaped cutter. What I liked is that the set of issues were no
different from the other mills as far as I could tell. There is
clean-up involved, either in the wax or the metal, but nothing more
difficult than carving some of these pieces by hand. Imagine carving
a very complex celtic knot pattern by hand, and compare that to
taking a small file or sandpaper and cleaning up a few cutter marks,
seems trivial by comparison.

Which brings me to a point about using the Cad-Cam system in
general. It is not necessarily a time saver, especially when you get
into complex celtic knots, or someone’s family crest, and you have to
spend 3-4 hours drawing it and getting it just right on the Cad
portion of the process. However, the results that come of this is so
much more precise than hand carving, and, God forbid the customer
looks at it and decides they want a change, it is so simple to go
back in and make a change, rather than to take it to your hand-carver
and have them give you the evil eye! This is by far the best selling
point I can see with Cad-Cam in general, the ability to make changes
and also to create duplicate items quickly and easily! I would be
happy, by the way to e-mail photo’s of my carvings to anyone
interested, and they will be posted on the Wax-Cutter’s website as
well. I also have examples of waxes that for one reason or another
were rejects, and would be happy to show those as an example, in
addition to what the Wax-Cutter folks show at their demonstrations.

As far as the software, this portion of the Wax-Cutter, requires a
small leap of faith, and a general desire to get the jobs done and
not to be able to talk “cad-cam” with everyone on Orchid. It is at
this point like apples and oranges. The software is different, more
user friendly and very simple to learn and use. You won’t have the
renderings that some other softwares offer you, but frankly, I think
that renderings are over-rated. Once you get a few bands carved, you
will be ready and eager to figure out how to then push the envelope
and start making shaped rings, or things more complex. This will not
take long at all, requires no trips for training, and is very
straightforward. For all of those who tune out when people start
talking “Cad-Cam” speak, this is for you!!! For those of you who
understand Cad-Cam speak, this is for you too, it’s just different.
Personally, I have been very successful with it, and encourage
everyone to give it a look. It is not going to be one of those
machines gathering dust in the back of your shop, it will get used,
and will make you money. I welcome all questions, both on and off
forum, and I hope that this has been useful.

Mary Elizabeth Linford
Blue Star Wax Carving