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Choosing CAD Program


#1

Hello everybody, I am in the process of selecting a cad program and
milling equipment. I have been learning to do cad on the Auto-cad
2004 program as a student. I have picked up how to do 2 d really
well on this program. However, I can tell that this program is not
going to do what I need for jewelry [at least not quickly] so I need
to select another program. I went to Tucson this year and looked at
Gemvision and Modelmaster, I don’t know which to choose. Also,
there is a model making machine out there that uses JewelCAD.
Gesswein sells this program, do any of you out there have any
suggestions and experience with these programs?

I am going to be designing bracelet modules, earrings, and necklace
modules as well. Not going to do much with rings right now. I need
to be able to shell out these pieces and have designs on the insides
of these parts. I need to be able to easily scale these pieces so
that I can get step downed versions of the exact same piece so that
my necklaces will have a graduated effect. Also, I wish to carve
very specific designs [mostly geometric] on the surfaces of these
pieces. I know that cad is accurate to about 12 or so decimal
places, I need to have a mill that can cut to about 3 or 4 decimal
places with complete accuracy. Can anyone help me? I know that
this is going to cost a bundle but, that’s unfortunately, the cost
of doing business sometimes, so tell me what is the best to get.
The model making machine I mentioned earlier costs about $60,000. I
don’t want to have to spend that kind of money unless I can see that
it is worth it.

I am leaning towards Modelmaster, but am not sure if their mill has
the capabilities to back carve these designs. I don’t need to have
undercuts, but in some respects the insides of these parts will be
more complex than the outside surfaces or shapes, Also, I need to be
able to mill hidden tight fitting hinges which may need to be milled
as separate parts and then lasered together.

All of this is making me a little nervous, because it isn’t my money
to spend, so I need to get the right equipment the 1st time!! I
look forward to getting all of your feed back, I hope to buy this
equipment no later that mid June so that I can get product out for
the Holiday season. Also, have any of you taken the classes that
these different programs offer? What did you think of the progress
you made? And has anyone gone back for tutorials and extra
workshops?


#2
 I am in the process of selecting a cad program and milling
equipment, do any of you out there have any suggestions and
experience with these programs? 

Considering the products you wish to create, my advice is go with
ModelMaster. Mike and Co. are great people, ArtCam JewelSmith is a
GREAT product and improving with each release, and the MM milling
machine produces great parts with dead smooth surfaces.

   I am going to be designing bracelet modules, earrings, and
necklace modules as well.  Not going to do much with rings right
now.  I need to be able to shell out these pieces and have designs
on the insides of these parts.  I need to be able to easily scale
these pieces so that I can get step downed versions of the exact
same piece so that my necklaces will have a graduated effect. Also,
I wish to carve very specific designs [mostly geometric] on the
surfaces of these pieces.  I know that cad is accurate to about 12
or so decimal places, I need to have a mill that can cut to about 3
or 4 decimal places with complete accuracy.  Can anyone help me? 

You state you need a mill than can cut to 3 or 4 decimal places with
complete accuracy. I’m assuming your referring to thousands or 1/10
thousands of an inch. .001" equals .0254 mm. The MM mills cuts
accurately to .01 mm, so you’re in the ballpark there. There are
other factors to consider though. The tool you’re cutting with needs
to be accurately measured. If you’ll be cutting very fine details,
you’ll most likely be using an engraving cutter, either a split
cutter or a 3 sided pyramidal cutter. You must have the angles and
cutting tips measured exactly, and tested. Milling to tolerances this
tight is no easy feat. If you’re using 4 axis, then you’ve got some
additional slop that is unavoidable. What you may find is that in
real world milling, your needs are not a great as you imagine them to
be unless you’re producing multi-part hard metal molds the parts of
which must fit within .001" (more difficult than you can imagine).

Rhino cannot currently produce shells per se, but may be able in the
next release. To produce a shell in Rhino is presently quite labor
intensive, but it can be done manually. I’m working on a comparison
between Rhino and ArtCam JewelSmith, but it’s going to be some time
before it is finished because I can only work on it in my spare time.
I’ll post it here when finished. It may help someone like yourself.

At my ArtCam training I was shown how to produce shelled objects. I
believe this is a somewhat new feature and is a bit tricky. I haven’t
seen the new release of ArtCam yet (I use JewelSmith and the new
release is not available yet), but I believe it is being improved to
make it easier. A program like SolidWorks (history based parametric
modeler) does an exceptional job of shelling but lacks most of the
features that ArtCam offers.

Please be aware that not all you parts may be possible with a
milling machine, so occasionally you may need to send a part out to a
service bureau that uses either the type of machine that Gesswein
sells (PatternMaster or even better, RapidToolMaker) or the new
Perfactory. In the case of the Perfactory, a rubber mold needs to be
made as the photopolymer it uses leaves an ash residue. I don’t
advise buying such an expensive machine (Perfactory is $49K) unless
you are going to keep it quite busy. I can make recommendations re:
service bureaus should that need arise.

I am leaning towards Modelmaster, but am not sure if their mill
has the capabilities to back carve these designs.  I don't need to
have undercuts, but in some respects the insides of these parts
will be more complex than the outside surfaces or shapes, Also, I
need to be able to mill hidden tight fitting hinges which may need
to be milled as separate parts and then lasered together. 

You can mill undercuts in a couple of different ways should the need
arise. If you don’t need undercuts, I don’t see why you don’t think
backsides can be milled. I produce complex pendants with accurate
details in the hollow of the back quite easily, just by flipping the
part 180 degrees and milling the back Regarding hinges, all you need
do is mill the concavity for tubing to fit into, assemble tube
sections onto the rivet, and solder or laser weld the whole assembly
as appropriate.

All of this is making me a little nervous, because it isn't my
money to spend, so I need to get the right equipment the 1st time!!
 I look forward to getting all of your feed back, I hope to buy
this equipment no later that mid June so that I can get product out
for the Holiday season.  Also, have any of you taken the classes
that these different programs offer?  What did you think of the
progress you made?  And has anyone gone back for tutorials and
extra workshops? 

I think you should have no problem getting product in time for the
holiday season.

I have taken the ArtCam training and it’s very good. You make 5
different pieces (milled waxes) in two days. Tech support is
immediately available when required and there is a growing ArtCam
community available to help as well.

To be fair, you may find that your modeling suite may eventually
include several programs. In my case, I use Rhino and
ArtCam/JewelSmith, and occasionally LightWave (LightWave has some
modeling capabilities that neither other program has). I usually mill
my creations, but use RP service bureaus up to several times a month.
I also spend quite a few hours at the bench hand carving waxes,
fabricating, etc, whatever is required to produce what I have in
mind.

I hope the above helps a little.
Jeffrey Everett


#3

Hello,

I started out with Rhino, had some experience with Matrix and
eventually gravitated to ArtCAM. I’ve also had the good fortune to
become a consultant for MM.

I like Rhino, but I had to spend a considerable amount of time
learning it… After 2 days of training on ArtCAM, I was doing things
it took me months to learn in Rhino. It’s completely different
modeling pardigm. In AC, “what you draw, is what you get”. Rhino is a
great surface modeler, probably the best. However, ArtCAM, has none
of the idiosyncratic technical issues of a surface modeler, such as
"naked edges", “failed Booleans” “bad objects” or leaky STLs. I get
things done efficiently and easily in AC.

DelCAM, one of the world’s preeminent CAD/CAM developers have taken
the sophisticated tools of their high end industrial design programs
and made them accessible and understandable for the jewelry artist
rather than the “engineering mind”. ArtCAM JewelSmith is very
intuitive and easy to learn.

The MM mill definitely has the accuracy and the ability to do
complex detail on the underside of a model. In the new A.C.
JewelSmith v7.0, toolpathing strategies for the flip fixture (for 2
sided parts and 3 sided milling procedures for rings with galleries
and undercuts), is completely automated within the software. ArtCAM
can shell a model to a specific wall thickness with a few clicks of
the mouse, as well as duplicate versions of a model in stepped down
sizes with very accurate 3D scaling.

I hope to buy this equipment no later that mid June so that I can
get product out for the Holiday season.

You remind me of a fellow who wanted the system only a few months
before the holiday season a couple of years back. MM was hesitant to
sell it to him, based on his immediate goals and expectations… As it
turned out, at the end of that year he attributed an additional
$300,000 in income to his new-found design tool. I have other
references, as well.

If you have any additional questions, I’d be happy to speak with
you. Call me or send your number.

Best regards,

Jesse Kaufman

JDK JEWELRY DESIGN
CAD/CAM Technology
Handcrafted Originality
www.jdkjewelry.com
860-232-9369


#4

We are a service bureau that runs Matrix, Artcam and Jewelspace. We
have a model master mill and have either run or use various other
output formats such as Solidscape machines, and Viper output. Each of
design program has very unique abilities. We run all three beacuse
there are some things that are done more quickly in one program than
the other. You can generally achieve similar results in all three
programs, though sometimes with dramatic differences in time.

I will try to address each of your needs and relate them to each
software you are interested in as far as our experience permits.

First you need to separate the design and the final output. The
design is the key to what you are doing, there are many methods of
output, such as milling, growing on a 3d printer, a DLP type machine,
or growing on a laser guided machine such as the viper output. You
can have models built by service bureaus or get your own output
machine. We will briefly discuss output options later. first focus on
the designs that you have to make.

You say that you have experience in 2d design, this would lead me to
say that Artcam is a more 2D based design software very handy for
patterns and graphic oriented design.

Scaling is easily done in both programs it is perhaps easiest in
Matrix as you can copy pieces quickly and scale them on the same page
then compare them side by side

Geometric designs are easily done in both programs.

Hollowing is done very differently in artcam and Matrix. A very good
feature of Artcam is that you can hollow a piece (with some
limitations) to an exact wall thickness. In Matrix it is done by
subtraction. You create a cutter to remove the areas that you do not
need.

I would advise you to drawout some of your designs and then take
some time with the sellers of each program to sit down and see your
design done in the software. then take your designs and try some
various output methods form a service bureau to see the results
before you invest in a system that may not meet your needs

Output

Some designs are easily and very acurately milled, flatter designs
with easily accesible backs are easily hollowed out with a mill.
There is often a slight taper to the piece on the sides as a mill is
limited to the tool that is used. Also undercuts are generally not
doable unless you split the piece you are machining into two pieces,
then reassemble eiither the wax or the cast metal. Some designs would
be better built using a growing type method.

I would advise you to start with software, get what suits your
designs, get used to using it, then use a service bureau to dial in
your output to see just what you need and want and then look at
output machines with an educated eye, I dont really see a need to get
the output machine at the same time as the software, you will have a
learning curve and the investment in an output machine may sit idle
for a while while you become proficient in software.

We have taken training with Gemvision and with ModelMaster, Good
training from knowledgable people from both companies . At this point
my opinion is that Artcam is not as well documented as it could be,
though I am told that they are working on it. Customer service is
good, all questions have been answered quickly. Matrix has a strong
customer service group that knows the software.

Please note that this is our own opinion, from our own experience,
we use and need both programs everyday.

Please feel free to contact us off Ochid if you have any questions

Thomas Cavagnaro
Cadsmithing
@Thomas


#5
get what suits your designs, get used to using it, then use a
service bureau to dial in your output 

Thomas, by service bureaus are you referring to large manufacturers?
When you get to that point how do you choose a manufacturer or
"service bureau"?


#6

for the past 2+ years i have been working on jewelcad and sending my
files out, and recieve a silver back. the software is relatively
easy to learn, and if you have a good grasp of spacial relationships
you will be able to do almost anything with it. the caution is that
some of the machines that create waxes are sprayers, and the surface
needs to be smoothed before it is usable as a jewelry model. this
makes very fine detail more difficult to achieve because you need to
calculate in both shrinkage and cleaning loss, which isn’t much on
larger surface, but i find that for most very fine detailing i end
up by do a considerable amount of hand finishing. however, for my
purposes this is acceptable as the results are more "hand crafted"
in appearance, albiet with a better overall symmetry. what ever
program you choose for the soft ware perhaps you would consider
working with the software for a while first, sending the files out
to various providers to execute the models. that way while you are
mastering the learning curve you don’t also have the burden of
keeping your model making machine busy all the time, (the only way
to make it financially feasable.) you can experiment with various
types of modelmakers (spayers or millers,) (sprayers seem more
organic,and the millers more machined looking,) then make an
informed decision about which method suits you best. if you would
like to contact me off line to discuss further, welcome to do so.

april karavani
de-tech studio
201.832.6120
ezedgeusa@aol.com


#7

I have three questions about ArtCam that I have been unable to find
on the web.

  1. How much does it cost? Every site says to contact a salesperson
    for price, but frankly I hate doing that (Software should not be as
    difficult to price shop as a car or house, it is, but it shouldn’t
    be…)

  2. Does it output g-code, it seems like it does, but it isn’t
    mentioned on the artcam website.

  3. What is the essential difference between ArtCam Jewelsmith and
    ArtCam pro?

Thanks,
Nick
@Felice_Luftschein_an
Felice Luftschein and Nicholas Carter.
http://www.cartertools.com/nfhome.html


#8

As an output service bureau, I see quite a variety of customers’ CAD
creations. The majority of files people send to me to build have
been made with Matrix, followed in popularity by JewelCad and Rhino
(I know several people who prefer to work directly in Rhino, without
the Matrix interface). When I ask them why they prefer one or the
other, their answer is always something to the effect that their
preferred program “thinks the same way they do”. Best thing to do is
get the demo versions, and if possible, some tutorials (Gemvision has
good ones to start with in Matrix) to get a feel for the way they
work. And unless you are making 2 or 3 pieces every day, the cost of
an output machine will be prohibitive. If I can be of service for
your output needs (I use Solidscape’s T66 machines), please feel
free to contact me.


#9

Nick,

It seems to me that if you were to contact a sales person they would
easily answer all 3 of your questions with out any problems. This
appears to be a much better option then to ask hundreds of orchidans
for misand it would most likely save you time.

“Get it straight from the horses mouth.” as they say

Wise Blood


#10
    How much does it cost? Every site says to contact a
salesperson for price, but frankly I hate doing that (Software
should not be as difficult to price shop as a car or house, it is,
but it shouldn't be...) 

A seat of Art-CAM is $7500, upgrades were $1500 after the first
year.

    2) Does it output g-code, it seems like it does, but it isn't
mentioned on the artcam website. 

Art-CAM outputs G code in a variety of formats to run various mills
and CNC routers, Delcam is good about writing code for the machines
that they have missed.

    3) What is the essential difference between ArtCam Jewelsmith
and ArtCam pro? 

Modelmaster has sold so many seats of Art-CAM into the jewelry field
that they have significant imput into the new tools in newly released
versions. Pro is more generalized and used in the sign industry,
Jewelsmith is designed with tools specifically for jewelers, as well
as a number of lighting and surfaces for displaying reliefs.

Considering what it really costs to own ArtCAM, even with
Modelmaster’s custom mill, it really is a bargain. The tech support
is great, training excellent and very well thought through, and the
combination of mill, controller, spindle, and software all do a
wonderful job of making models. If you make $1000 worth of models a
month, you will find the system cost effective. Right out of the
box, after 2 days of training I was making useful models. I can’t
imagine carving lettering a mm or 2mm high by hand, ArtCAM can output
simple stuff like that in minutes. The learning curve is not that
steep, though the manuals could use some revision for clarity.

Rick Hamilton


#11
you can experiment with various types of modelmakers (sprayers or
millers,) (sprayers seem more organic,and the millers more machined
looking,) then make an informed decision about which method suits
you best.

I can understand how you’ve reached the conclusion that CAD models
created by the “sprayer” method, i.e. rapid prototyped on a machine
that deposits material, look more organic than models milled in
jewelers wax on a CNC machine.

What you’re observing on the rapid prototyped material is a surface
texture imposed by an RP machine. This is from a slight stepping
effect when fine layer upon layer of material is built up as it’s
sprayed from the machine’s wax printing jets.

Depending on the RP machine and resolution of the layers, the
texture can be coarse which would indeed require hand finishing to
remove the lines, or less noticeable and require less refining.

The machined look you attribute to CNC milled models is correct in
that a milling machine, used to it’s best advantage, accurately
reproduces the CAD drawing’s 3-D shape with more precision and
fineness of surface than rapid prototyping, the method that deposits
material.

This is just my opinion, but whether it actually looks “machined” is
more in the hands of the designer.

One of the major benefits I’ve found with CAD/CAM technology is the
ability to have more control over symmetry and dimensional accuracy,
but, also, strictly for myself, a better control over artistic shape.
(there are many hand carvers with more technical ability than I ever
had at the bench).

The tendency when jewelers first start to work in CAD is towards
precise symmetrical development of stone settings and cohesiveness of
the overall design, just because, as a tool, CAD lends itself so well
to those qualities. And in the world of production, this is of great
benefit.

What seems to be overlooked is the ability to produce a well
machined model is matched by the ability to use CAD as the powerful
artistic tool that it is.

I’ve seen some amazingly beautiful organic, naturalistic one of a
kind jewelry by talented CAD artisans, done with ArtCAM, in
particular. In some ways, ArtCAM is more akin to a graphics design
program in that you first draw the design in 2-D and then give it
shape and dimensionality.

Very flowing naturalistic shapes are possible, with the major
limitation, not being in expression of creativity, but whether the
fineness of detail in the end result is large enough to be cast-able
and whether the design will work as jewelry.

What I mean to say is that you can make very nice looking jewelry
with CAD and CNC milling that doesn’t have to look “machined”, yet
can be precise to your dimensional specifications and creative
intentions, and you don’t have to loose surface detail in the clean
up process because of current shortcomings in rapid prototyping
machinery.

Best regards,
Jesse Kaufman
JDK JEWELRY DESIGN
CAD/CAM Technology
Handcrafted Originality
www.jdkjewelry.com
860-232-9369


#12

Service bureaus are companies that do output, design and consulting
on various machines for people who have jewelry cad software but not
the machines to build it. It is a growing trend in our industry. You
can have items you design in any program output on a mill or any of
the growing machines available. A good service bureau can advise you
how to prepare your cad model to be built and help you when you have
difficulties. For a small shop or someone just starting, it is really
nice to have people who know the output side of the cad cam business.
Contact us with any questions

Thomas Cavagnaro, G.G.
Cadsmithing
cadsmith@cox.net


#13

Wise Blood,

I prefer user based and opinion over sales based
I use mills ,routers, and printers. Build in rhino, and
artcam. Toolpath in visual mill, rams, desk proto, and artcam. Drive
my mills with flash cut and win CNC. Tend to get my best information
from user groups.

David


#14

David,

Yes, user based is very helpful especially when trouble
shooting real world problems and seeking opinions on different
products. I also use mills, 3D printers, SLA, and SLS technology.
Build in Rhino, ArtCAM, Solidworks, and 3DS Max. Compile NC code, in
ArtCAM, FeatureCAM, and MasterCAM. We can compare brainpans all
afternoon over a beer. However, for sales (such as the
that was being asked about) it is best to speak with the
sales representative.

Wise


#15

my two cents, i use inventor an autocad 3d package and mastercam for
my cnc codes


#16

Has anyone worked in the jewelSpace CAD program? Any comments on it?

Frank Reisser


#17

For what its worth, the guy who worked with Caligari to develop
JewelSpace, Randy Hays, was selling ArtCam with modelmaster at
tuscon this year.


#18

Dear Frank, My employer has jewelSpace cad program. He spent a few
days at a training session some time ago and has yet to get the
program up and running efficiently. He set me up with the program
to do the learning curve and see what we can do. As of now, I have
little time to devote to it. I find the learning curve and NUMEROUS
tool icons less than user-friendly. Supposedly this Caligri program
is “intuitive” but in the 3 hours or so I have worked in the
program, that is not the case. I have run and do run several forms
of graphics software which are in “3d” perspective. The jewelSpace
is not so easy for me as are those. One complaint is lack of
available tutorials on the net or apparently from Caligri. Most
graphics software has many tuts on the web and that makes learning
much easier. I simply do not find these with this program. More tuts
with less $$ invested would be nice.

In defense of jewelSpace, I do believe the program will do a good
job. I have not been able to give it the time needed and that is
apparently a LOT of time to become proficient in the jewelSpace
environment. If and when I do become adept at this software, I will
post to advise. Can you tell me of your personal use of this
program?

God Bless.
TomDart.
@Sp.T


#19

Check with info@jbdstudio.com he as written an add on for Rhino
specifically for jewelers with a library of a weight
calculator, an auto scaler, and much more. It’s not expensive and
there is more being added all the time. E-mail him and he may send
you a demo.


#20

Frank,

I have Jewelspace as well as ArtCAM, Rhino and Matrix. The other
software was an easier interface for me to understand.

Amy