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Cnc in general. [Was: Jewelry Cad/Cam]


#1

Want to start a conversation on cnc? OK, here goes. Not about
Jewelcad especially, but cnc in general. First off, I think you
guys selling this technology greatly oversimplify the learning
curve. Even the “experts” I talk to finally admit that it took
6 months before they felt really proficient. I have been using
ArtCam Pro for the past 6 months, and still talk to technical
support. True, it actually doesn’t take long to produce
something, but I didn’t buy my system to do basics all the time.
I need to do what my customers want, and more often than not, I
need to go way beyond the basics. Not only does it take time to
learn the software, but only by trial and error (more time) can
one learn what will actually be produced from what is on screen.
Magnified 3D relief images may look perfect on screen, but when
an actual size live model is produced, it can and does contain
spacing, size and other problems that can only be discovered when
the actual model is seen and critiqued. Then it’s back to the
drawing board for refinements and another round of production
time. So, don’t tell me that I’ll be ready to take on the public
in just a few weeks.

For most people interested in this technology, it becomes a bit
of a task to learn it while trying make a living at the same
time. For those folks, the time to learn cnc technology is for
the most part done “after hours”. A lot of after hours . It can
become quite difficult making a living and getting to the point
where this stuff starts paying for itself at the same time. This
stuff ain’t cheap!!

Now for the good news - it is mucho cool!! Once you get past
the frustration and finally begin to understand what is going on,
there are lots of things one can make - just let your imagination
run. It is great to be able to design something and then watch
it being produced with much greater accuracy than doing it by
hand. Most of the software is pretty user friendly with a lot of
calculations automatically computed for you.

Just be sure you do your research and know the limitations of
the different types of systems. Know the difference between 3D
engraving systems and rapid prototype systems. Can your computer
handle the system, or do you need to add more ram or hard drive
space? Is some other software necessary to do preliminary
artwork before importing into your cnc software? Do you need
another computer because your present computer will need to be
dedicated to your cnc equipment once it begins an operation? If
you want a 3D engraving system and want to produce metal molds,
are you prepared to spend an additional $4000 for the plastic
injector? Do you have the “extra” time to devote to learning the
system? Can you make the payments for a few months until you are
truly ready? Just simple questions that need to be answered
before jumping into cnc.

It’s just that there is so much to learn all at once, while at
the same time finding a market for the machine so it will start
paying for itself - and earn a living at the same time. From my
experience, if you want to take the plunge into cnc, be ready to
devote a lot of time learning the software and any other
additional software necessary, and be ready to pay for the
system for a while before it begins to pay its way. Don’t expect
to start making tons of money right away just because you have a
new toy. This stuff is expensive and it takes a while to get to
the point of making money with it.

Right now having something done by someone already up and
running with cnc equipment is a bit expensive, especially for the
small mom and pop store. But, in the future, I believe prices
will become more competitive as many others come on line with the
equipment and competition for business starts to be a force in
the market.

My thoughts (requested) on cnc equipment.


#2

Aufin,
In your note Re: cnc you stated:

  First off, I think you guys selling this technology greatly
oversimplify the learning curve.  Even the "experts" I talk to
finally admit that it took 6 months before they felt really
proficient.

Hmmmmm, how long did it take you to learn your primary craft
(goldsmithing) to the point that you felt really proficient?

I have been using ArtCam Pro for the past 6 months, and still
talk to technical support.  True, it actually doesn't take long
to produce something, but I didn't buy my system to do basics
all the time.

(Balance snipped)

Remember your very first good ring? I’m sure all of your
customers didn’t just want a flat silver band with a bezel set
stone!

I guess the point that I’m trying to make is this: CAD drivers
are craftsmen/artists. The skills required to create objects in
virtual space are very different than the skills of a bench
jeweler. Two totally different vocabularies, no, two different
languages, if you will. At this point, most virtual jewelry is
being created by metalsmiths who want to venture into designing
for the future.

The problem as I see it is this: Unless you are “designing” with
a program that is basicly a collection of pre-defined forms (a
clip art library) of someone else’s designs, you are eventually
going to come to a crossroad where a decision will have to be
made. Are you a metalsmith/designer or a CAD/designer.

The new Jewelcad program (although I haven’t yet rec’d my demo
copy) seems to fit into the clip art catagory. This allows
jewelers working in a traditional ( 47th. St. NYC) mode to throw
out design possibilities for their clients in much the same
manner as the “kitchen designers” at Home Depot. It should be
simple enough that the learning curve won’t be that taxing, and
you can apply many of your already learned 'puter skills to the
task. All you need to go with it is the Sanders system for
making the waxes, and a good caster. (Bear in mind that this is
all hearsay on my part, based on reviews from people who have
actually seen Jewelcad at work)

For the more dedicated and serious CAD designers there are
programs like the afore mentioned ArtCam Pro, Rhino, AutoCAD and
others (more often a combination of several are required to
accomplish what you really want). These programs are extremely
sophisticated (not to mention often expensive ie. AutoCAD =
$4,000 plus or minus.) and not to be taken lightly as something
to learn over your vacation or at a week long seminar as just
another jewelry skill.

Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM),
Rapid Prototyping (RP) etc. are dependant on crafts people who
have spent years of concentrated study perfecting their skills to
the point where their designing is fluid and they can focus on
the art of design rather than the craft of technique.

I’m finding that if you love bench work and designing for
metals, and are drawn to CAD you’ll eventually have to make a
"Sophies Choice". If you wish to master one, which do you love
more, they both require great dedication, skill and commitment,
and like cherished spouses, grow chilly when ignored.

I also feel that if you want to begin discussing jewelry
related CAD issues, perhaps we would be better served if a new
group were started rather than try to do both in this forum.

Hank Paynter
Brook Hollow Studio
(where the real world, the virtual world & the fantasy world trip over each
other on a daily basis)


#3
    I also feel that if  you want to begin discussing jewelry
related CAD issues, perhaps we would be better served if a new
group were started rather than try to do both in this forum.
Hank Paynter 

Great Idea! I’d like to see this happen. As one who has flirted
with CAD/Cam for some time now (and using to a limited extent),
as well as being a tool/toy junkie, I’d welcome an extended
discussion of the subject. Anyone else? It’s difficult to tell
hype from fact(or to even get facts)from mfg’s or salesmen.

Visit Brenn Jewelers website at http://www.brenn.com
mailto:@brenn
Brenny W. McLaughlin
Brenn Jewelers
4714-C Starkey Rd.
Roanoke, Va. 24014
540-776-9654


#4

You seem to be taking my cad/cam post personally. Me thinks you
missed the main point of the post. The opening statement “you
guys selling this technology greatly oversimplify the learning
curve” was intended to take the practical, eye opening side of
the issue instead of the simple salesman’s approach and inform
anyone who may be interested that this is not simply push- button
jewelry. Plus, comments on cnc were requested. Not my idea.

  "Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing
  (CAD/CAM), Rapid Prototyping (RP) etc. are dependant on
  crafts people who have spent years of concentrated study
  perfecting their skills to the point where their designing
  is fluid and they can focus on the art of design rather
  than the craft of technique." Couldn't have said it better. 

I realize, first hand, in order to become proficient with this
type of work takes much dedication (which translates into time).
I have been accused of being obsessed with my system. Probably
true.

Getting started with the basics for doing jewelry the “old
fashion” way involves very little investment as compared to cnc
equipment. The least expensive cnc 3D engraving mill I found is
$2500. Software not included. The best software designed to be
used with the mills for jewelry applications is ArtCam Pro which
is $7500.00. The Sanders system starts at $40,000. Plus all the
additional equipment needed for production such as casting
equipment, mold equipment, injectors, and someone, if not
yourself, to operate it. An expensive undertaking - not toys.
Can be a bit overwhelming if one is not properly prepared.
Unfortunately, there are no provisions for anyone to take the
equipment for a spin other than watching someone at a show. The
only alternative would be to invest the money and time to go
where classes are offered by each system’s representative and try
it out.

I have been at the bench for 25+ years, and, yep, I’m still
perfecting the hands on approach. Probably will be for another
25 years if I’m lucky, so what’s new? Besides, what does my
first ring have to do with cnc?

Am I correct in assuming you own a system?


#5

where can I find more about jewelcad and artcam pro I need to
find out as much info as possible before I decide which I want
to purchase also the types of computer power each one needs to
run. and where can I go to purchase these programs…?any software outlet?


#6

You are absolutely correct. CAD/CAM is an investment. I didn’t
ask anyone to purchase Jewelcad or the Sanders machine. I asked
if you wanted to try designing using a computer. Afterall,
everything else uses a computer! Perhaps trying Jewelcad for
free was too much. Learning should be on everyone’s mind.

All this is, is a tool to make your life more productive. The
Sanders machine is $67,000 not $40,000. Wouldn’t it be great
for you to design rather than build. The Sanders machine
doesn’t need an operator, it runs by itself, it doesn’t take
vacations, it runs when you are sleeping, don’t have to worry
about Workman’s Comp. It does get sick once in a while but we
come to fix it.

Why not try to design a few things and I’ll tell you where you
can have them built. I told you that I’ll even build them for
you.

Why would you need casting equipment, etc, if you owned a
Sanders machine?

I’m not asking for you to jump. Let’s crawl and learn something
along the way. Go to a few shows and see what you are missing.

Rolf


#7

I think you such make an ftp site of lib.(or ready made jewelry)
files for jewelcad. So we can download them and play around with
them.

Why isn’t there a manual for jewelcad, that we can buy? I think
that is a much better way of learning the program.


#8

You seem to be taking my cad/cam post personally. Me thinks you
missed the main point of the post.

Yep, sure did, & I stand corrected, and yes I did take it a
little personally, I had a bear of a time getting a firm handle
on AutoCAD. (I’ve really gotta stop this late night stuff).

Besides, what does my first ring have to do with cnc? 

My point there was really pretty simple.

It takes a while to become a professionaly competent jeweler,
just as it (usually) takes a while to become a professionaly
competent CAD designer. No more, no less.

Hank Paynter
Brook Hollow Studio


#9
I have been at the bench for 25+ years, and, yep, I'm still
perfecting the hands on approach.  Probably will be for
another 25 years if I'm lucky, so what's new?  Besides, what
does my first ring have to do with cnc? 

Thank you for the informative letter. You answered many of the
questions and thoughts I had about this “new and easy” method of
carving.

I have a customer who is a computer consultant and is
programming with cnc software as well as buying, and building
CAD equipment. When we got together, he explained all the
difficulties he’s having with a “simple” carving of a tubular
shape (with undercuts). Granted, he is looking for precise
cutting, but even as an “expert”, learning the equipment pros,
cons and workarounds is difficult. … So I too have been
rather leary of all the postings implying that this was a walk
in the park.

thanks

John g


#10

Something wrong with the samples and the database included with
the demo.


#11

There are 2 different types of equipment for the jewelry
industry. Kim stated it earlier, CNC and prototyping. CNC is
only good for models that have NO undercuts. Prototyping on
the otherhand can build anything. The Sanders Machine can
build in layers as thin as .0005 inches or .012 mm or 12
microns which ever you prefer. There is no stair-stepping.

QVC uses both, Tiffany uses both, London Star uses the Sanders
machine, A. Jaffee uses both, Ubio uses both, Vargas uses both,
Uncas uses both, Imperial Pearl uses both, Beauty Gems uses
both, and 100s more use both.

Nothing is a walk in the park! When you got your first
computer and if you ever had a disk crash, you get frustrated.

Rolf


#12

John & all: It seems to me you could spend the same amount of
time (or more) learing to run the electronics as simply teaching
your hands to do the job. Personally, I would be more proud of
the work knowing I was directly responsible for it. Or, putting
it in a musical prospective: “It ain’t got that swing when it’s
played by a thing.” Steve


#13

John & all: It seems to me you could spend the same amount of
time (or more) learing to run the electronics as simply teaching
your hands to do the job. Personally, I would be more proud of
the work knowing I was directly responsible for it.

Yeah! And I have been teaching myself to finish off my ring
sizing with my bare hands! No files, emery paper or polishing
motors for me! Just thumbs and elbow grease! Takes a really long
time to size a ring, but I’ll bet no one else can do it!

Bruce D. Holmgrain
Maryland’s first JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler
@Bruce_Holmgrain


1-703-627-8580


#14

Bruce:

Whoa! I guess I struck a nerve with my simple observation. I
should be more sensative to the more electronically adept.

Sincerely;

Caveman Steve


#15

Whoa! I guess I struck a nerve with my simple observation. I
should be more sensative to the more electronically adept.

Hey Steve, A little stab at humor. ;0) I guess that you did strike
a nerve. For twenty years, I didn’t understand the principles of
burnishing. There is not a lot of understanding invovled. I was
just never shown the values or principles thus I was left the
unenviable task of throwing away perfectly good castings and
filling holes with solders. This was caused by my two favorite
traits of ignorance and arrogance. A burnishing tool is just a
tool. It is not an attack on my well being. Likewise a computer
is just a tool and a computer attatched to a mill is just a more
versatile tool. Both require skills tyhat I may or may not wish
to develope. Whether I am building a granulation piece, mokume
or a seamless wedding bands, it is only helpful to use the tool
that taxes the least of my time and turns out the best product.
All works are technical and all works require techniques.

Bruce D. Holmgrain Maryland’s first JA Certified Master Bench
Jeweler @Bruce_Holmgrain http://www.goldwerx.nu
1-703-627-8580


#16

Hello again Bruce:

We seem to butt heads a lot lately! :slight_smile: Anyway, I want to be sure
you understand that nothing I have said is ment in an angry way.
I simply love to punch holes in preceptions other than my own.
Sometimes I suceed and sometimes I make a fool of myself(not
difficult, I assure you)and learn a thing or two. I guess the
notion of aproching the jewelery fabrication process in any other
way than the traditional, time honored method is a challange to
my preception and I react with a knee-jerk responce. Maybe I’m
showing my age but I just can’t see shaping and forming a piece
of my work on a computer screen instead of the more tactile
hands-on method I love and am most comfortable with. I greet your
responces to my posts with pleasure and hope you’ll see mine in
the same light.

Warmest reguards;
Steve


#17

I just can’t see shaping and forming a piece
of my work on a computer screen instead of the more tactile
hands-on method I love and am most comfortable with. –

G’day Steve; I am with you - to a certain extent. I spent a
week or two trying to design jewellery on a computer with some
success - they looked very pretty. However, I gave up when it
dawned on me that I could have done it at least as well and in
about 1/10 the time using a pencil, an eraser (absolutely
essential!) a decent piece of paper and a box of kid’s
watercolours. Mind you though, I had to actually MAKE the bits;
the computer didn’t know how and just wouldn’t be bothered to
learn. Even had I persevered, CAD/CAM would be a bit expensive
to produce the one off jobs that we all enjoy doing most, though
I don’t doubt it would be good at doing the FIRST PART of making
thousands. After someone did the real work of design. Cheers,

        /\
       / /
      / /      Johnb@ts.co.nz
     / /__|\
    (_______)

#18

You know John, you should have tried Jewelcad and you wouldn’t
have to do the bits. The computer already learned everything,
all you need to do is design them. Hopefully you have read the
letter from Durand Philippe and if you didn’t here’s another copy
of it.

Regards,
Rolf