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Claiming technology for creative production


#1

Hello all,

I’ve just been asked to speak at a jewelry and metals conference in
Melbourne, Australia titled “Inherited Futures–Technologies to Trap
Ideas.” I’ve very excited about this opportunity. My topic is “a
range of technologies used in the making of American jewelry and
small objects designed to be produced in multiples.” A less long
winded way of saying it is, “The Technology of Production Work.” I’m
very familiar with some jewelry processes for production but would
like to gather more on recent developments of the use of
CAD/CAM technology, 3D lithography and rapid prototyping and
anything else of a similar vain. I’d love to start a thread on how
Orchid members are, in the words of the conference hosts, “claiming
technology for creative production.” I’m especially interested in
original and creative jewelry and objects designed to be multiples
that are generated using technology as part or all of the process.

It would be my guess that the most common use of the computer by
metalsmiths in their studio work or business is in CAD, but that
fewer metalsmiths have the resources for CAM. As was recently
suggested on Orchid, given the expense of the equipment and the
remarkably quick obsolescence of any technology these days, it may
make more sense to job out CAM processes to shops that specialize in
this sort of work instead of investing tens of thousands of dollars
in your own equipment. I can see pros and cons either way. Perhaps
we could start a discussion with the following questions.

  1. How do you use computer technology in your studio work?

  2. Do you use it to produce multiples (production work) for the
    markets such as craft shows and trade shows?

  3. How has the use of computers changed your studio work and
    business?

  4. Do you job out some of the processes to industrial resources such
    as machine shops or CAD/CAM specialty facilities?

I’d appreciate any answers you care to provide.

Don Friedlich


#2
    1. How do you use computer technology in your studio work? 

My main use is for model making with ArtCAM and a milling machine.
My early training included both fabrication and casting, followed by
working around 3 excellent model makers in Providence. CAD/CAM was an
easy adjustment for me- sometimes it takes a while to get the relief
just right, but the problem solving is fun.

    2. Do you use it to produce multiples (production work) for
the markets such as craft shows and trade shows? 

I have a rep, some of the models are custom tailored to his
customers, but I rarely use the process for multiples. Mostly masters
that are then cast. The machining process is slow, roughly one square
inch per hour with the cutter I normally use.

    3. How has the use of computers changed your studio work and
business? 

CAD/CAM has added a whole layer to my skill set. I can do raised
lettering in any available font, crisp 2 1/2 D custom crests, a whole
range of possibilities has opened up for me. ArtCAM has a nice set of
tools- just the weave wizard alone has made it easy to do some great
models- my latest is a tennis racket with woven strings. I carve less
models by hand than I used to, sometimes just to see how much I can
do with CAD/CAM. In June I designed a 10mm wide domed cuff bracelet,
laid out the holes for 20 diamonds, milled the model in wax, and cast
it in18ky. I could have as easily fabricated it, possibly in less
time, but then again, I was doing something else while the milling
machine was cutting the wax. The drawing took about 15 minutes. I
spent more time finding out what the client wanted. The mill costs
about $500 a month to own, far cheaper than an employee, and does
exactly what you program it to do. Not that I don’t appreciate the
work that my assistant does, she has ideas, and a valid opinion, and
design sense.

    4. Do you job out some of the processes to industrial
resources such as machine shops or CAD/CAM specialty facilities? 

No, but I occasionally do parts of models for other metalsmiths.
Usually lettering or some part that needs to be very precise.

Rick Hamilton


#3
    1. How do you use computer technology in your studio work? 

In the last few years, I have been using AutoCAD for layout work on
fabricated pieces. Things like trying to figure out how many and
what size princess cuts I can set into an eternity ring. In the last
year, I have been concentrating my efforts on creating whole models
on the computer and sending the results to a printer for rapid
prototyping. This has given me mixed results, but the results are
getting better and better as time goes on. There has been a huge
learning curve and it is still happening. I use These wax or plastic
models to cast directly in metal. I have thrown away 95% of my rubber
molds. All I want anymore are the files that produce the models.

    2. Do you use it to produce multiples (production work) for
the markets such as craft shows and trade shows? 

My models are used to make unique pieces of jewelry per request.

    3. How has the use of computers changed your studio work and
business? 

The computer has given me the ability to express myself in ways and
to communicate with the client in ways that were previously
impossible. I can not draw freehand with a pencil. I have been
learning to do so with a computer, though. Hey. If you don’t believe
me, check out the website.

    4. Do you job out some of the processes to industrial
resources such as machine shops or CAD/CAM specialty facilities? 

I job out the rapid prototyping. Until I am doing at least 4 jobs a
day this way, it makes no sense for me to spens $25,000 for a used
machine. It might make sense for me to look into milling some of my
work, but I am happy with the results and prices that I am dealing
with right now.

Bruce D. Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Benchjeweler
http://www.goldwerx.com


#4
    1. How do you use computer technology in your studio work? 

I use CAD CAM for the fine detail I can’t get by hand. I like the
letters, crests and images done by the mill much better than anything
I’ve seen anyone do. I still primarily do surface tooling so my work
is still components that need hand assembly and traditional
manufacturing. If it is a hand made image I can scan the image into
the program and make it any size I want. Plus the positive and
negative image with minimal work. Details, details, details…

    2. Do you use it to produce multiples (production work) for
the markets such as craft shows and trade shows? 

The only profitable way I see CAD for me is in multiples and
production. My jewelry world is mostly wholesale with a little
retail. I can’t usually make my cost back on just one item. My
production cost are low and streamlined so it makes sense to do it
this way for me anyway. My wholesale product goes through a reputable
distributor that I want to do more production with. As many other
threads have indicated this relationship is most crucial. CAM in my
opinion is the more challenging part of our current jewelry
technology. I always challenge any jewelry CAD designer to show me a
finished piece of jewelry in hand. THAT’S the person I want to talk
to!!

    3. How has the use of computers changed your studio work and
business? 

Much of my future in jewelry is based on CAD CAM. It’s here to stay.
I started CAD when the Macintosh computers first came out with
graphics. Now I hope to evaluate Matrix this Fall and Spring. It is
interesting to see that Matrix is now supporting a CNC Mill. This
tells me I am right to conclude stereolithograpy isn’t all that it’s
cracked up to be. My first choice is surfacing with the CNC Mill.

    4. Do you job out some of the processes to industrial
resources such as machine shops or CAD/CAM specialty facilities? 

I had a Sanders Model Master II machine for six months. I could have
bought the unit for a reasonable price. I choose not to buy it. Even
at a good price it was too much money to tie up. If I need that part
I’ll send the file out and have the piece grown. All the milling I do
in house. That cost is more affordable and I feel more productive.

    I'd appreciate any answers you care to provide. 

I’ll have some new images later this month. Currently the gallery of
some of my pieces is www.ajt-online.com.

Best Regards,
Todd Hawkinson


#5
1. How do you use computer technology in your studio work? 

I use CAD (Rhino in particular) to create virtual models of all my
jewelry creations. This computer generated model is then used to
produce near photo realistic renderings for customer approval
(deliverable via email or printed in color). The computer model file
is then used for either creating a wax prototype via 3D milling or
Rapid Prototyping (3D wax printing), either of which can be cast
directly into the metal of choice.

2. Do you use it to produce multiples (production work) for the
markets such as craft shows and trade shows? 

I only make one-offs, but am considering production. Metal molds,
made primarily (here) by 3D milling are ideal for production of
patterns due to consistency of volume (fill-out), fidelity of detail
and finish.

3. How has the use of computers changed your studio work and
business? 

Computers have fundamentally changed the way I do business. I am
able to produce patterns now I could not have produced before.
Examples of such patterns are highly detailed Celtic weaves and
school rings. I can now produce multiple views of near-photographic
quality renderings at the touch of a button. I can computer model the
stones to be set, and build a ring around them such that the stones
drop into place nearly perfectly. After spending 33 years at the
workbench making original jewelry creations, I am now moving toward
becoming strictly a 3D modeler, and jobbing out the bench work to
highly capable craftsman.

4. Do you job out some of the processes to industrial resources
such as machine shops or CAD/CAM specialty facilities? 

Currently, I only job out Rapid Prototype builds (3D wax printing).


#6
   I've just been asked to speak at a jewelry and metals
conference in Melbourne, Australia titled "Inherited
Futures--Technologies to Trap Ideas." 

That sounds like an interesting talk, Don. Will transcripts be
available afterwards? I’d love to have a copy to post on my site, if
possible.]

   It would be my guess that the most common use of the computer
by metalsmiths in their studio work or business is in CAD, but that
fewer metalsmiths have the resources for CAM. As was recently
suggested on Orchid, given the expense of the equipment and the
remarkably quick obsolescence of any technology these days, it may
make more sense to job out CAM processes to shops that specialize
in this sort of work instead of investing tens of thousands of
dollars in your own equipment. 

Like I was telling Jim, it doesn’t have to cost that much. It’s not
that big a deal to set up a benchtop CNC mill as a studio tool
anymore.

   1. How do you use computer technology in your studio work? 

I am interested in natural forms and textures. I often make molds
of various natural objects, and use these in jewelry and sculpture. I
find that computer technology makes it possible to capture 3d surface
digitally, which makes it easy to manipulate- much easier
than dealing with molded surfaces directly. Also, since this digital
data is scale-independent, I’m able to use much larger objects-
putting a mountain range on a ring, for instance, and to use very
small things- a trilobite’s eye, for instance- at a larger scale.

    2. Do you use it to produce multiples (production work) for
the markets such as craft shows and trade shows? 

I’m working up to a production line, but I don’t get very excited
by this type of sales venue. I suppose they really require a more
nomadic sort of person.

   3. How has the use of computers changed your studio work and
business? 

In my work, digital scanning and milling technology made possible
an extension of my artistic focus into areas I had only dreamed
about. Carving becomes as fluid as casting; few materials are out of
reach. I feel I’m at the edge of an ocean of unexplored
possibilities. In my business, the internet has made it possible for
me to connect with people in entirely new ways. While I never wanted
to be a storekeeper, I’m now able to fit retail sales into my
schedule without having to maintain a constant physical presence in a
single location.

   4. Do you job out some of the processes to industrial resources
such as machine shops or CAD/CAM specialty facilities? 

While I’ve sent some things out for scanning, I’ve mostly been
concentrating on things I can do in my own studio- I haven’t run out
of ideas yet…

   I'd appreciate any answers you care to provide. 

No problem, Don- feel free to contact me for more details on any of
this.

Andrew Werby
www.computersculpture.com


#7

Thanks Andrew for you responses. They were very helpful. The Orchid
Archive has also been a great source of

I’d still like to find Orchid members that are using CAD/CAM or any
related processes to create prototypes or models for production. The
entire production doesn’t have to be by CAD/CAM, just part of it.
From what I can gather, when thinking about multiples, this
technology may be best applied to making an original model of wax or
butterboard, and then rubber molding the model to be cast with more
traditional methods. I’m most interested in designs that are new and
might be called contemporary and non-traditional. Things like
monogrammed school rings are not what I’m after (no disrespect meant
to school rings).

I want to show exciting and new examples of what technology can
allow that were impossible or extremely difficult to achieve with
older forms of production. Who’s out there pushing the envelope
aesthetically, conceptually or technically?

Don Friedlich