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CAD Decision - any thoughts or direction?

To the collective- I pose a question… I am considering getting into
CAD for design work- and want a program for more than jewelry use…
Never ventured into this world- and am finding it daunting to read a
myriad of reviews, processes, and options… I am looking for
thoughts on which CAD program is easiest to learn… I realize that
depends largely on the student… but the user interface, upgrades,
ability to manipulate designs…

I have looked at MOI 3D, Rhino, ArtCAM, Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD,
TurboCAD, Google Sketchup and BobCAD… I am looking for basic
functionality- I am not an engineer- dont need anything that
calculates hydraulic piping functions… But would like to export
DXF and files for waterjet and waxes…

Thoughts and direction are greatly appreciated!


I instruct CAD here on the net. I am glad you have done your
homework in looking at possibilities.

Originally, I believe, Rhino by McNeel and Assoc. was created for
making boats and plane models from its NURBS/surfacing application.
Since then, many companies use Rhino as its foundationary math for
their products, ie., Matrix, RhinoGold and others as Plug-ins. For
pure cost and funtionality in doing other than jewelry, and jewelry,
I would go with Rhino. But, who’s to say you still can’t make other
than jewelry with Matrix or RhinoGold and have the functionality of
the jewelry tools built in? Solidworks is a good program, but is, in
my opinion, a bit harder to learn. I have taught that in the past for
GIA. GIA, under my direction, moved onto Rhino and Matrix for many
reasons, two of which, it gave the student the option to buy the
less expensive software in Rhino, but gave them the foundation of
working in the same playing field as Matrix. Matrix being the jewelry
application and Rhino the overall application. Another reason was
purely the ease of use of each application as one instructor could
teach 15-20 students, whereas, Solidworks needed 2 instructors to
teach 6 students.

If you want to check out some demos go to my site or Rhino’s or
Matrix’s. I always tell my students, whatever you choose, stay with
it as the learning curve is definitely different with all

The Jewelry CAD Institute


First, I think Russ is certainly giving some great
There is a learning curve to all of the CAD/CAM world and that curve
is simply the dues we all pay that go this direction. I would like
to add to the suggestions that you try ArtCam Jewelsmith. I tried
Rhino… (love it for mechanical parts) and have dipped into Matrix.
The difference I see is that the folks at Delcam seem to go at the
jewelry creating process just a little more logical than the others.

Take a deep breath, do your homework and try… TRY them all. Find
what fits YOU. I don’t like the Delcam folks much… but their
software is tough to beat. I don’t sell it. If you decide to go that
direction however, e-mail me and I’ll point you toward the ONLY
dealer that I suggest you purchase from. I won’t make a penny…
thats not my purpose here.

The Best. Dan.

I would say out of all those programs you listed, MOI would probably
be the easiest (and least expensive) to learn. The GUI is very user
friendly. Once you have a grip on it, you could always add rhino to
your toolbox and use it’s vast array of plugins such as Matrix or
Rhinogold. Both are jewelry specific and have many tools to make
modeling jewelry much easier.

If you want a CAD and CAM package, ArtCam may be a very good choice
as well. Most, if not all of the programs you listed should be able
to export dxf files.


If you expect to get involved beyond sending geometry files out to
third party manufacturers, please consider a CAD which integrates
with suitable CAM software.

Rhino integrates with RhinoCAM or with MADCAM, just as examples.
While working up the info to drive a mill, waterjet or whatever you
can revise the CAD geometry to fix a booboo, to enhance, to add stuff
or change your mind - without sending files back and forth between
CAD and CAM software.

I’m a big fan of integrated CAD and CAM.

Mark Bingham
Fourth Axis