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Greetings, I was hoping that some CAD/CNC experts might share their
experience with us using these tools. We are considering purchasing
a software package such as JewelCad or JewelSpace. What is the
preferred software solution?

Any suggested affordable CNC desktop milling machines?

Appreciate any advice you can give.

Best regards,

This is a discussion well traveled over the last few years, and
there are a number of threads on CAD/CAM in the archives. Five years
ago, I made the decision between building a low cost system, or
buying Model Master’s package. Now there are a few additional
packages out there- Sherline’s system is reasonably priced, and the
Max NC and Taig systems have their proponents as well. My decision
was to go with the Model Master system, I recently upgraded it, and I
find ArtCAM to be very powerful and easy to use. It is nice to be
able to design and cut a model in a matter of minutes or hours. I
recently talked with a dentist who is using a $90,000 CAD/CAM system
to make one visit crowns possible.

Rick Hamilton

    We are considering purchasing a software package such as
JewelCad or JewelSpace.  What is the preferred software solution? 

I’d say Jewelspace is better for designing in than JewelCad, in that
it allows for more creativity - JewelCad is more a point-of sales
tool, where you take a stone from column A, a prong setting from
column B, and put it on ringshank #4. Most of these jewelry-specific
programs are little more than a general-purpose CAD program with some
pre-modeled libraries of etc. and some “wizards” that make
it simpler for a novice to construct something like a Tiffany head.
For the extra money they cost, I’m not sure they get one that much
further along, and the “training wheels” will soon be outgrown. If
you like the JewelSpace interface, look at Truespace, the parent
program. Similarly, if you’re thinking of buying DigitalGoldsmith
Matrix, look at Rhino first, which it’s based on, and which costs a
whole lot less. A new program has recently been introduced for
jewelry design called 3design Express, from Vision Numerics, the
French makers of Type3, a fairly well-regarded CAD tool. It seems
promising - offering construction history and parametrics as well as
freeform modeling capabilities. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve just
signed up for their (very short) 3-day evaluation, so I’ll probably
have more to say about it afterwards.

Any suggested affordable CNC desktop milling machines? 

Affordability varies with ones individual circumstances, but I like
several machines in the sub-$4000 category. Taig (based in Arizona)
makes a very robust little mill suitable for cutting metals as hard
as steel as well as wax, etc. Sherline (in California) makes a nice
mill too, and a wide range of accessories to go with it. It’s not as
big or heavy-duty as the Taig, but will work well within its size
limitations. And Roland Digital makes a couple of combination
scanner/mills in Japan, the MDX-15 and MDX-20, which make it possible
to sculpt something by hand at a comfortable scale, scan it into the
computer with good precision, and mill it out of wax or other soft
materials by switching out the probe head for a spindle. The choice
of which would be best for you depends on how you like to work, and
what you plan to accomplish.

Andrew Werby

I’m actually selling my copy of jewelSpace if you are interested.
Lists for $2000, asking $1200. It has good libraries of ready made
components and excellent rendering tools.

Frank Reisser

    Similarly, if you're thinking of buying DigitalGoldsmith
Matrix, look at Rhino first, which it's based on, and which costs
a whole lot less. 

A good way to make the basic Rhino more jewelry specific is to get
the TechGem plug-in from If anyone is
considering this add-on I have a single copy that I will sell for
$295 + shipping for the commercial version. We are dealers for this
item so you can be assured that it is a complete legal copy.

If there is more interest in this package beyond the single copy I
would offer an Orchid only special order deal of $340 + shipping as
long as there are at least 2 Orchid members interested. Either of
these deals expire at the end of July 2004. If interested my contact
info is in the signature below. Email is preferred.

A2Z Metalsmith Supply Inc
5151 S Federal Blvd Unit I-9
Littleton CO 80123
720 283-7200 Phone
720 385-2118 Fax

Hello all,

Posting for a teammate who has not yet joined Orchid as a poster(?).

Jon Olsen,

We (Rio Grande) carry Design Master Software for this application.
Design Master 7.0 is composed of the following modules. Trace,
GrafiCad, Picture to Part, and Mill. These modules all use a
graphic human interface term " What You See Is What You Get,"
meaning that the display image will be 100% compatible with the
produced item.

TRACE: The Trace module allows you to use images from many sources
including the web, digital cameras, and desk top scanners. The
module enables you to automatically produce vectors geometries from
these images that are essential to the machining process.

GRAFICAD: This module is used to work with geometries that involve
precise dimensions. When using GrafiCad module you can combine
different geometries by using such features as libraries and cut
and paste options.

PICTURE TO PART: This module takes 2D geometries created by the
other modules, or other software, for example AutoCAD, and
embosses/ debosses them to create complex 3D surfaces. This module
is used for generating 3D artistic work such as medals, coins,
etc… You are able to rotate the design side, top, bottom, etc…

MILL: This module combines geometries and surfaces created in the
other modules. You will define cutting tools for each step of the
milling process. When the tool definition is completed, you will
define the controls of the machining process by simple input
screens. Once this is completed, the CNC instructions
run through the computers communication ports to the machine

For an packet or any other questions on Design Master
and Mills please call or email.

Ronnie Mares
Technical Support / Sales
Rio Grande / The Bell Group
800-545-6566 ext 13707
505-839-3000 ext 13707

I am scott F. Jones, I work for graphitech, we sell cimigraphi and
jewelcad. I signed up with orchid but need to play with it abit to
see how it works, to answer your question on jewelspace or
jewelcad, both programs are nice, we looked at both to see what 3d
program we wanted to support. We picked jewelcad, it is a wonderful
program, it had it’s problems at first, one was it did not do a nice
job of converting the file to mill, even though you had the ability
to save as a STL it still had problems, that we took care of and now
you can mill as well as grow.

The other problem was support, most everything in training was in
chinese, we are redoing the training in English and even adding to
it, I was able to sit with the president of Jewelcad at the Vegas
show this summer and could not believe how easy the program was
after being shown, and how powerful it was. If more info is needed
please let me know.

Scott F. Jones