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CAD vs Hand wrought


#1

Hi Richard,

I stumbled into this thread yesterday, so I’m trying to figure out
(A) what’s going on, and (B) why everybody’s so wound up about it.

Question one: Are we still going on about Leonid’s “Make me a CAD
ballerina ring” thing? (Or was it an eternity ring?) Question two:
did that ever get designed?

The inside took no time at all (you're welcome to the.stl if you
want it), the problem was not being able to see the rest of the
design, in enough detail. I could have mocked up something, but
didn't want to make something different, and then get accused of
not following the design.
Anyone with years of fabrication experience knows that CAD can be
similar but not exact, either in form or function. The bitching
and moaning was the second reason reason it could not be done.

Huh? I do have years of fabrication experience, as well as enough
CAD experience to be a threat to myself and others. I’m not entirely
sure what you’re talking about. CAD absolutely can map out exactly
the same shapes as are produced via hand fabrication. Whether or not
that makes any sense to do is an entirely separate point. CAD
(meaning Computer Aided Design) can make digital models of
whatever form you like, to whatever level of precision you like. CAM
(meaning Computer Aided Manufacturing) may or may not be able to
output those forms in any way that makes sense, but again, that’s a
separate issue, and depends largely on what sorts of gear you’ve
got, and how much money you want to throw at the problem.

The skill to do the fabrication and the skill to do the CAD are
not equal, therefore the results cannot be equal. There is
something CAD cannot accomplish that fabrication can.

That’s sort of like saying that the skill of sailing is unequal to
the skill of riding an elephant. Both get you from point A to point
B, but they’re not really related beyond that. OK, what can CAD not
accomplish that fabrication can? (given that there are all sorts of
parts out there produced by CAD/CAM methods that are then fabricated
into the final assembly.)

I do understand your point that (at least in precious metals) there
are a lot of CAD/CAM processes that are stupidly inefficient, but
that doesn’t make them impossible, just expensive. Equally, if I’m
willing to go the LONG way around, I can rig up CNC processes that
will exactly mimic the formed metal properties of a particular
fabricated piece of metal. I’d probably have to waste a mountain of
gold, and build a custom machine to do it, but it is possible. (Just
stupidly expensive.)

If the CAD design was carved out of a solid block, the only way
the metal structure could be similar to the fabricated piece, the
tools used cannot compare to the results of the forged, drawn, and
brazed process.

Again, see above. You could (if you were nuts enough) build a
machine to draw a tube, then machine that down, which would give you
the same hardness state. Probably even better, as the machined one
wouldn’t be annealed from soldering. But horrifically expensive
and inefficient.

On the other hand, remember that the Bonny Doon presses do have a
deep draw rig set up for drawing 12Ga tube, specifically for
machining solid rings. So it’s not as far out in science fiction as
you’d think. (Or, just forge down a big block of gold, and machine
that. Fully hard, nice tight grain structure, and about 95% wastage.
Stupid does not equal impossible.)

As another example, when I stop procrastinating, and send this
message, I have to go back to designing a pair of dies to take a
disk of silver, and ‘wave’ it, sort of like the ‘skirt’ on a
ballerina ring. The dies will be machined by a CNC mill. So the form
produced will be (technically) produced by the evil of CAD. (ack!) On
the other hand, they’ll be much more accurate, and make a much
better form than the hand filed dies that my client was using
before. Which means that the final handles (made up of stacks of
these waffled disks) will be much more accurate and attractive than
they were before. So how is that bad?

If I had a customer that wanted a fabricated piece, do you think a
CAD piece would be honest or ethical?

Depends on what you sold her. Did you sell her a gold ring, or did
you sell her a piece of performance art?

The manufacturing process has dumbed down the skill level needed
to produce jewelry. Manufacturing by other than fabrication has
changed the expectation of the public. People are willing to
sacrifice quality for price.

That I’ll give you: many customers care more about the bottom line
than anything else. But those aren’t really the ones you want
anyway. Getting into a race to the bottom with Asia isn’t a winning
strategy. Meanwhile, what about the “quality” of the umpteen million
cast ring parts that get slapped together every day into
"fabricated" pieces of jewelry? Arguably, those are of much lower
quality than a CNC produced part. Even better, the original masters
of a great many of those parts may well have been produced by CAM
processes. Does that ‘original sin’ contaminate the whole finished
piece, forevermore?

Antique Roadshow will not have segments in 100 years showing
furniture and jewelry brought for appraisal because everything
produced now is crap. The internet allows us to publicly expose
ones self as a victim of our own folly.

Everything produced now is crap? So Daniel Brush, Kevin Coates, or
a whole list of other artists are producing crap? Perhaps the baby’s
a bit bigger than this tub of bathwater, no?

Meanwhile, historical jewelry is a hobby of mine, and one thing you
notice when looking at ancient (archaeological) jewelry, is that
there were mountains of crap produced in any given time period. It’s
only the truly outstanding examples that get preserved. Looking at
just those survivors, we get a skewed view of what was actually
produced. So, will ‘Roadshow 2200’ be looking at Swatches or Pandora
bracelets? No. On the other hand, there will still be a large number
of very nice pieces that will survive.

To pull back from some of the 'stupid doesn’t equal impossible’
examples, and get back to the sorts of things that sane people might
actually try, you’re both right and wrong in saying that CAD can’t
equal fabricated work. You’re right in saying that CAM (as distinct
from CAD) can’t equal hand fabricated parts at any realistic price
point, (currently), but wrong in saying that it can’t do it at all.
(and the prices are coming down…)

CAD/CAM is a tool, no better or worse than a vulcanizer. In the
hands of a schlock merchant, a vulcanizer is a truly horrible thing,
enabling the wholesale copying of designs without the least thought
for what shrinkage will do to the mechanics of the design being
copied. In the hands of a skilled operator, a vulcanizer lets one
make pieces that would simply be impossible any other way.

The old computer joke about “Garbage in, Garbage out” applies.
Ultimately, the quality of the piece is up to the guy designing it.
If he doesn’t know what he’s doing (and they mostly don’t) you get
garbage. For the few who do, the machines will sing.

Regards,
Brian


#2

This is one of the reasons I stopped the CAD work on Leonid’s ring,
it becomes a pissing contest, and neither side will back down, it’s
boring and no fun.

I will say this, and you can agree or not agree with these points :-

  • CAD can make an exact copy of any design, modify that design, as
    well as create new designs under human instruction (at present).

  • CAD/CAM are more precise than human jewellers, and repeatably so.

  • CAD/CAM can make items that could not be made by hand.

  • CAD allows anyone (that knows CAD, including Sketchup) to produce
    that item in any material. E.g. a ring is material with a hole in it
    that fits on a finger.

  • CAD work is being sent overseas for production, because it’s
    cheaper to import jewellery manufactured this way, than employing
    apprentices (a problem in Australia).

  • Castings will never be as durable as hand wrought pieces of
    jewellery.

Ethics really have nothing to do with it, none of us on this list
are unethical, suggesting it is pointless, unless you’re trying a
veiled insult. A customer usually sees something they like in the
window, as long as it’s shiny and finished nicely they appreciate it,
whether it’s hand wrought or cast.

If a customer wants me to fabricate jewellery for them, I’ll
fabricate jewellery for them, by any means they contract me to use,
hand fabricated, cast, CAD or a combination. I refuse to limit myself
to one manufacturing style, it’s short sighted, especially the way
the industry is headed. It’s one of the reasons I’m getting my Mokume
skills up.

I do agree with you that the durability of jewellery, over all, had
decreased, but it’s more about the design these days.

I try not to think too much on the way the industry is heading…
it’s too depressing :frowning:

Regards Charles A.


#3
* CAD can make an exact copy of any design, modify that design, as
well as create new designs under human instruction (at present). 

So far I have been able to quickly determine visually that a piece
of jewelry has been done by CAD CAM.

If I can tell the difference, the criteria for exact copy has not
been met…where pieces of metal meet and are joined by brazing,
there is a look that is not the same as CAD CAM.

That there is the ability to do it and it requires more time than can
be profitable does not change the physical reality that what is
produced at this point in time cannot compare to fabricated.

A CAD CAM piece can be made that can be an exact copy of a cast
piece.

Pretty simple, make Lenoid’s ring by CAD CAM and make it so no one
can tell the difference, and shut me up…

Until then, words and concepts don’t make it so.

There is always the possibility of posting pictures of two identical
pieces, one done by fabrication and one by CAD CAM and see if they
anyone can tell them apart.

And just for fun, make a mokume ring by CAD CAM…" exact copy of any
design".

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#4

Good points Charles and banging your head against the wall will only
bring you knots on your head…to each their own.


#5

Well said Charles.

Although I may choose to disagree about the durability of castings.

Regards,
Phil
Hand fabricator and user of CAD.


#6
Question one: Are we still going on about Leonid's "Make me a CAD
ballerina ring" thing? (Or was it an eternity ring?) Question two:
did that ever get designed? 

It was a CAD of the eternity ring. I did the inside, but could not
get a clear enough image to figure out where to go next. The images
provided were low resolution, and I couldn’t see enough detail.

You can take the.stl I have an continue the project if you like. The
.stl is watertight, and a test wax print was run.

Regards Charles A.


#7

Well “free form” is “free form”…that is why Mokume is what it
is…and there is limits to all things in design and manufacture.
So, copying Leonid’s fabricated ring “could” be done, but to make it
look exactly like it when finished would be the issue. A lot of
designers have adopted the Tsplines application for free form design
and it has its place, but it is intended for that place, not to the
regimen of exact dimensions or style. You have to know when to use
CAD and when to fabricate. It is only a choice.


#8
Pretty simple, make Lenoid's ring by CAD CAM and make it so no one
can tell the difference, and shut me up.... 

This pretty much says it all. There is not any cad created flat set
jewelry that is even close to a nicely done bright cut band. I will
supply the gold and diamonds needed to do the ring if someone wants
to take it on, of course I want the stuff back. CAD has it’s place
and I have used it for some items but it is not for all things. It’s
easy to put down others that don’t agree with you with
generalizations hoping we will shut up, usually we do shut up
because we get busy and don’t reply all the time.

Create the ring and I will be glad to concede.

Bill Wismar
www.metalbendersgallery.com


#9

Hi Richard,

So far I have been able to quickly determine visually that a piece
of jewelry has been done by CAD CAM. 

OK. I can tell when a piece was cast, as opposed to fabricated. They
usually look mushy. Besides telling another metalsmith how the piece
was done, this signifies what?

If I can tell the difference, the criteria for exact copy has not
been met...where pieces of metal meet and are joined by brazing,
there is a look that is not the same as CAD CAM. 

Remember: I was talking strictly about CAD, which refers only to the
digital model. Once it’s out in the real world, someone had to deal
with some sort of CAM system, which may have limitations of its own.

That there is the ability to do it and it requires more time than
can be profitable does not change the physical reality that what is
produced at this point in time cannot compare to fabricated. 

Never said it could.yet. The output processes are getting to the
point where that day is coming though, and probably sooner than we’d
all like.

Pretty simple, make Lenoid's ring by CAD CAM and make it so no one
can tell the difference, and shut me up.... 

From what Charles said, Leonid didn’t provide images with enough
detail to be sure of what was going on, so he stopped, rather than
waste his time.

There is always the possibility of posting pictures of two
identical pieces, one done by fabrication and one by CAD CAM and
see if they anyone can tell them apart. 

Other than as an “I told you so”, why would anyone want to? CAD/CAM
is a tool, just like any other, and has strengths and weaknesses of
its own. Why would you use a graver to pierce out a sheet of metal,
when a saw would do a better job? Same thing with trying to get a
CAM system to exactly duplicate a fabricated piece. It probably
could, but that would be going the long way around for no good
reason.

(Just for the record, I gave a talk at a SNAG convention back in
1996 where I put up an image of a real piece, next to the image of a
CAD designed piece, and talked about the image details of each, for
a good few minutes. Nobody twigged to the fact that one of the
images was a total fake. Until I told them later. This was 16 years
ago. (No way to get the piece out in the real world back then, so it
was all just images.) But the visual quality of the image was such
that it stood up right next to a similar, real piece, and an
auditorium full of teachers missed it. Imagine what you can do
today.)

And just for fun, make a mokume ring by CAD CAM.." exact copy of
any design". 

Actually, not nearly as hard as you’d think. There are laser
sintering systems that use powdered metal to make parts. I have a
memory that someone’s working on one that can lay down several
different types of metal powder at once. Mokume would be child’s
play for a rig like that. (Google “DMLS” or “Direct Metal Laser
Sintering”.) Also, Jim Binnion (who may be reading this) and Steve
Midgett did some work on some sort of powdered metal mokume where I
believe they could roughly determine the pattern beforehand. I don’t
know all the details. Jim, if you’re reading this, please refresh my
memory.

That to the side, I do understand your point. Ever notice the number
of jewelers who have mokume wedding rings themselves? Mine are,
Lee’s are. It’s a sort of metalsmith’s in-joke. Mokume in
particular, isn’t entirely about the beauty of the pattern. For many
of us, it’s about ‘yeah, I did that’. A physical testimony to skill.
That’ll always be a motivating factor in how some things are done.

I never said, nor do I believe, that CAD/CAM is the right tool for
every job. It isn’t.

What baffles me is the level of vehemence in all this. I don’t
understand why computerized systems are drawing so much moreire
than vulcanizers, or electroforming, rose engines, or even hammers
(Nevermind PMC, or wire wrapping pliers). All of which have
perpetrated their share of schlock and predictable designs upon the
world.

It’s a tool of metalworking, not a tool of the devil.

Regards,
Brian


#10

hello alberic,

I have actually used a method you mention in your e-mail as being
impractical, I cnc machined a gold ring from a drawn tube, I used a
large press to make the tube (200 tons) the ID was smaller than the
ring and the OD was larger and I used a CNC lathe to shape the whole
thing, it was kinda of part of a discussion about the practicality
of such an endeavor.

I will say this, the finished ring was very nice, and was made faster
than you would think, and with a very nice surface finish, and the
gold waste was minimal, since I cut it wet, and filtered my fluid.

If i was so inclined, it probably wouldn’t be impractical to mass
produce rings in this manner, and with more advanced equipment
carving and outside etching could be done.

-chris


#11
Well "free form" is "free form"...that is why Mokume is what it
is...and there is limits to all things in design and manufacture.
So, copying Leonid's fabricated ring "could" be done, but to make
it look exactly like it when finished would be the issue. A lot of
designers have adopted the Tsplines application for free form
design and it has its place, but it is intended for that place, not
to the regimen of exact dimensions or style. You have to know when
to use CAD and when to fabricate. It is only a choice. 

Replicating by machine isn’t the issue. Making something that is
inhumanly perfect is easier than making something that replicates
human flaws. Replicating the hand of man is a little more expensive
to setup, but it’s do-able.

Repeating exactly the appearance of the item is one thing, but
repeating the grain structure in a simple print and cast operation,
that can’t be done with our current technology. If you wanted to do
that (honestly why), then it would be cost prohibitive at this time.

I totally agree with you, “it is a choice”, but sometimes it’s nice
to know that certain operations can be done if you needed to (or lets
face it, when someone says it can’t be done).

Regards Charles A.


#12
Pretty simple, make Lenoid's ring by CAD CAM and make it so no one
can tell the difference, and shut me up.... 

Damn it I’m drawn into this again!

Alright, does someone have a good image of Leonid’s eternity ring?
The images presented thus far are too muddy (blowing up the images
makes it far worse). The CAD that’s on Leonid’s site, doesn’t appear
to look like the ring in the DVD shorts. I’ve made a copy of the
internal channels plus band, from what I can see in the DVD. I just
need better details for the outside of the ring.

I’ll make the CAD and send it to those that want it. Of course
you’re welcome to have the.stl that I currently have on hand, if you
want to have a go yourself.

Regards Charles A.


#13

Well, at the risk of sending a few folks into orbit…again… I
have hand carved wax for 30 ++ years.For about 14 of those same
years I have both hand carved and used CAD /CAM… yes… even
before it really worked! So… my opinion is…

When you hand carve a wax or bench make a piece of jewelry, it isn’t
perfect. It has that heartbeat that happened at the wrong time
showing up in that line that is supposed to be razor straight. It
always will have. That’s why folks love it and defend it fiercely.

When you design a piece in CAD, put it through CAM and let the
machine do the work, there is no heartbeat. That line WILL be razor
straight…or better. That’s why you can tell CAD /CAM models from
hand made models.

UNLESS… (Don’t you just hate that) :wink:

Unless you have the skill & patience in CAD to add that ooops of a
heartbeat mentioned above. Use a software that allows additions of
points or nodes as many call it to a line… nudge them out of
perfection… Now, produce the model into a solid. No, you aren’t
ready to run to CAM!! Take a Wacom tablet and pen and sculpt on the
solid model…BY HAND, just like you do with a graver at the bench.
you can add…shall we say “Wax”… or remove it. Work on it until
it looks just like that wax you do at the bench. Now, go to CAM,
path the part…again taking time to use the correct methods & tool
selections… and you WILL have the heartbeat and a “Hand Carved
Look”. The machine will go and do whatever…WHATEVER the code you
produced in CAM instructs it to… it has no choice. This is not a
normal course of work for CAD CAM… but we do it daily for
customers that want that look.

The nice part is…if anyone is still reading… you have the best
of both worlds. You have that perfect channel… that perfect stone
seat… that perfect prong…and yet, the surrounding area can take
on the look of a hand carved wax. We as well sometimes cut a wax on
the machine for these customers…and add the hand made marks…
well, by hand! Blend CAD CAM in your shop WITH your hand work. Don’t
separate them and make these two wonderful worlds separate. That’s a
sin in my books… and so very much a waste. CAD CAM is no more or
no less a tool than any other tool on your bench… Your hand tools
sleep together… they will as well be more than happy to cozy up
to your CAD/CAM tools and techniques.

JUST MAKE BEAUTIFUL THINGS… ANY WAY YOU WANT!!! Enjoy! Dan.

Dan
Dearmond tool
http://www.dearmondtool.com


#14
What baffles me is the level of vehemence in all this. 

Fear perhaps, of the hand made trade dying. CIA


#15
What baffles me is the level of vehemence in all this. Fear
perhaps, of the hand made trade dying. 

Something gained and something lost. A shame if that which is
produced = by hand, the magic that we admire and love of handcrafted
is lost due to technology. Is that happening now?

I have absolutely no fear of handmade as a dying trade. CAD CAM can
co= st more than either fabrication or carved wax. CAD CAM is a tool
and is best used where it has a distinct advantage over fabrication
or hand carved wax. If I can get a wax carved for $150, and a CAD CAD
wax costs $250, that means the customer will pay $300 or $500, I do
not think the customer should bear the burden financially for the
limitation of someone who only knows CAD CAM.

I see some indications by what is made is that CAD CAM is a hammer,
and everything is a nail. CAD CAM will not replace fabrication for
some of us. There is a finese, something delicate and subtle about
fabrication, and also with hand carved waxes where CAD CAM can be
second best. CAD CAM designed jewelry can look industrial. CAD CAM
is best on a broad scale for production where uniformity of the
product is desired. Sometimes it is the only way to accomplish
something.

The argument can be made that there are those that have skill and
vision to use CAD CAM and use it in the best interest of the
customer, and produce something that would rival fabricated or hand
carved wax. Then there are also those who misuse the technology.
However, I see articles in AJM for projects using laser welders or
CAD CAM projects, and I wonder why.

I could have my skills and more traditional methods and achieved the
same results, and I would not have to have invested the time it takes
to learn to get good at CAD CAM, or spent the high ticket $$$ for
laser or CAD CAM technology and equipment. I am quite sure that if I
were to learn to produce jewelry by CAD CAM, I would not be as happy
with what I produced as I am by the means I have used for 40 years.
My gift would not be expressed, it would just be a menial task.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#16

I would disagree that CAD/CAM is necessarily coarse or cold, I saw
some superb work produced at the graduation show of the Royal College
of Art in London a couple of years ago that looked as though it had
been constructed using fine wire so the limitations are not of the
tools or method.

I think a problem we all have is trying to place ourselves in a
hierarchy of professions or skill sets. Many designers claim that
they are more skilled than fabricators of their designs whist others
will claim that designers are nothing without skilled people to
realise their concepts. Are doctors worth more than airline pilots in
the salary scale?- an old argument that generally places professions
in a pecking order in the public perception.

So, if a set of skills honed over many years becomes outdated in the
market place we can claim that things arent what they were, we are
not valued by the public etc and to an extent that is true but what
they want is the best quality finished article at the best price and
if someone with a machine produces something that fits the brief
perfectly quicker and at less cost then we are doomed to extinction.
Where a craftsman comes into thier own is my being flexible,
original and given history as a teacher, doesent have to reinvent the
wheel every generation.

I dont have CAD skills- I wish i did but I an glad that I can do
what I do also as I like to think that what I have learnt in a number
of fields makes me useful as experience allows one to interpret
things in more than one way. With regard to the design aspect the CAD
person doesnt have to construct anything- the file can be passed on
to another via an email attachment and thus sent to any part of the
world instantly. Not so easy for other design work. Look at other
industries and outsourcing this way is very common for many reasons.
We used to link our electron microscopes up to the US and China from
the UK and they did the same. It meant that we could load a sample in
the chamber at going home time and other people could operate and
collect the data remotely thus making better use of a $2million
instrument. It also meant that experts in different science
disciplines could each have their say on what we were collectively
looking at in real time. Very few people work in isolation nowadays
and I dont agree that either CADCAM or handworking is a menial task
these days. Even the most repetetive production tasks in industry
have been altered to ensure that the workers have some incentive to
get up in the morning other than avoiding starvation.

Nick Royall


#17

Hi Richard,

I appreciate hand made, although I do like paying 10 cents for a
sewing needle, as opposed to $30 (that’s my price for a hand made
needle, and I do a minimum order quantity of 500) for a hand made
needle that looks the same and performs the same as machine made one
needle.

I’m in this to make jewellery by any means necessary, and to make
some money too. The problem with hand made anything is that it is
being replaced by technology at an alarming rate.

There are a couple of questions that you pose that are quite
relevant :-

Is that happening now? (meaning is hand crafting being replaced by
machines)

Yes. It’s happened in every other trade, it’s happening in ours. You
either adapt or become part of a niche craft (leather working,
blacksmithing etc.).

However, I see articles in AJM for projects using laser welders or
CAD CAM projects, and I wonder why.

Industry is pushing it that way… you can’t blame them either, it’s
a business they have to make money. You apply to work for a Jeweller
in Australia, and they will ask if you have CAD skills, some of the
larger businesses demand it… it’s why it’s part of our trade
course.

There will still be people that will hand make jewellery, but don’t
kid yourself, technology changes hand made trade into a niche craft.
It just means that if you choose to make items with older methods,
then you have to sell items at a higher price, usually due to lack of
demand.

I think you sell yourself short Richard, I think you would still be
able to express yourself, by using technology. I used to make
artificial limbs, I knew a lot of artists that had no choice but to
embrace technology, and they adapted just fine.

Regards Charles A.


#18

Richard, I think it has been said over and over again that CAD CAM
is just another tool. The pros and cons have been written as well.
After 40 years of doing this craft, which I have done 35 or more,
your ability to do it as an expert is well taken…it takes a talent
to do this in any form. The handcrafted design will never lose it’s
place…the individuality of the fabrication or hand carved wax will
always remain.

Russ Hyder


#19

Hello Orchidians;

I agree with Nick about the hierarchical strife among craftsmen. I
know of some fabricators who refer to wax modelers as “candle
makers”. You can always find examples of any technique that are bad
enough to satisfy your desire to disparage the entire method. One of
my old professors wouldn’t allow his students to use casting until
they had experience in fabrication. He felt that the “instant
results” gained from casting were too seductive and would discourage
students from pursuing fabrication skills. CAD/CAM is not new. How
long has it been that class rings are made using machines and no hand
work? You may not call them jewelry, but they are a good example of
how technology has existed in our industry for a long time. How much
hand work is in a high end watch? Or any watch? Ever see those old
"filligree" mountings from the early 20th century? They were made
with dies and furnace assembly. How do you think they got them so
thin? What about machine cut wedding bands?

Here’s where the problem starts, if there is a problem. Someone wants
the look of a product without having to resort to the method in which
it was made, so they try to translate it to another method of
production. Something is always lost in the translation. And it’s
worse if they don’t know much about manufacture, let alone design.
When printmaking was developed, it was a way to produce multiples of
an image without having to draw each one. But an etching wasn’t
exactly like a drawing. But it was cheaper. So it is with a cast
version of a fabricated project, or a CAD version of carved and cast
product. And no, CAD doesn’t exactly match a hand carved piece. There
are limits to what can be prototyped that a carving doesn’t present.
As one of our posters said, it’s a case of “garbage in, garbage out”.
You can execute bad design using any method of production.

All this aside, I think it is pointless to argue the superiority of
any technique over another. If you approach a technique first with
an eye towards where you can take it, that’s one thing. If you have a
design idea and you start looking for a technique to pull it off,
you may solve your problem, but then the design is really irrelevant
to the technique used to produce it. What I’m saying, and this was
the crux of my MFA thesis (don’t worry, I’ve been in the
retail/manufacturing trade for decades, I’m not just an
"artsy-fartsy" jeweler), is that I believe in a “process aesthetic”.
What I mean by that is this: When you work with any material or
technique, over time, your design sensibilities should start from the
point of what a material or technique can and can’t do best, and you
exploit that. If you don’t know anything about how to make jewelry,
you can be a “designer” and make pretty pictures and then give
headaches to your manufacturer, or you can be a craftsman who makes
music with form, bringing out the intrinsic beauty of materials with
the graceful implementation of method. Most jewelry doesn’t make it
that far, it’s just a means to and end, and that end is profit,
primarily.

David L. Huffman


#20

While I have a CNC mill and ArtCAM, I do enjoy fabricating jewelry,
especially in 18k yellow gold. I find the process of planning out
the pieces, forming and filing, fitting and soldering a pleasure. I
also enjoy designing pieces on the computer in ArtCAM, so I guess I
just enjoy the process of making jewelry, whatever tools it takes to
make the finished project.

Rick Hamilton