I would like to respond to some of the messages posted inquiring
about CAD. I currently manage the CAD department with a large jewelry
manufacturer. We use software for design as well as CNC and rapid
prototyping. I worked as a modelmaker and jeweler for 22 years in
fine jewelry before going completely digital, so I think I understand
some of the needs and concerns of the industry.
CAD was originally an acronym computer aided drafting, because early
applications were mainly 2D programs mimicking tools used in
traditional board work for mechanical design and architecture. The
power in editing and changes without complete redraws was just one of
the advantages. As software matured into 3D applications, CAD was
expanded to mean computer aided design. I have a very strong opinions
about software specific to the jewelry industry. Although there are
operations and routines that are jewelry related I find the idea of
;jewelry design software; to be ridiculous. If that is the
case then software developers would be writing code for ; Coffee
Maker CAD; or perhaps ;Eye Wear CAD;. There isn’t one
software application or solution no matter what your wish list.
Software for design and manufacturing is a group of applications that
fit your business model and design / manufacturing needs.
The focus of most software vendors targeting jewelry is
manufacturing. While in the end producing what you design is most
important, the design process as a whole has been grossly overlooked.
From conceptual sketching to finished product, software must play a
role in each stage of the process. If a company uses software focusing
on manufacturing, and the designers are still using paper and pencil,
then there exists a barrier for efficient product development. Visual
computing, independent of the application, is a communication tool.
Engineers, designers, model makers, and architects, all have the need
to communicate ideas to a group of people, peers as well as the
uninitiated. When everyone in the PD process is in agreement with what
is presented, then product can move forward. Digital tools help the
user make their mistakes faster, helping to reduce waste in a product
development cycle. Although knowing digital tools is important, I
cannot stress enough the importance of managing this technology. If a
company adopts digital technology without examining and possibly
changing its current process, then the real potential of the
technology is overlooked. The technology sometimes dictates throwing
conventional wisdom out the window.
There was a comment about SolidWorks as a program not well suited for
jewelry design. With all due respect I have to disagree. If jewelry
is looked at as form then most designs can be deconstruct and found to
be made up of simpler shapes. Solid modelers such as SolidWorks have
their place because most jewelry does not require complex organic
shapes. In addition a solid modeler capable of complex surfacing
may suit a company because of its parametrics and hybrid modeling
capabilities. Rhino, a program I use and have certification to teach,
is a great surface modeler, but it has no history or parametrics, so
comparing a solid modeler to a surface modeler really does a great
injustice to both software packages. By the way, Rhino was originally
developed as an add on to work within AutoCad. Robert McNeel and
Associates saw the potential as a stand alone product and placed it on
the web for free while still in development, a brilliant move on their
part. It was not developed with the animation industry in mind. It has
no animation capabilities, and while it used for character modeling,
it is used primarily as an industrial design tool, which is why I
think it suits jewelry design very well.
I used SDRC I-Deas Master Series for three years.
With rare exceptions, I was able to make just about everything based
on the needs of the companies where I worked. To be able to create one
marquis setting and potentially have any size necessary just by
changing two key dimensions, or extract a model from an earlier point
in the design process are very powerful tools. Until you have
experienced this it is hard to make comparisons.
A final word about standardization. Back in the early days of the
space program one of our astronauts made a comment that it did not
give him much confidence that the spacecraft he was flying was built
by the lowest bidder. Standards are usually built around the lowest
common denominator. It is more important to choose applications based
on your business model and process. Again, don’t use the jewelry
industry as the clearing house for this when there are
resources that can add great value to what we already know.
For anyone interested, on behalf of the Jewelry Design Professional
Network, www.jdpn.org and the Fashion
Institute of Technology, I would like to extend an invitation to a
digital seminar, addressing software for design and manufacturing. I
will be speaking on choosing software and demonstrating the
differences between software packages. It will be held at the Fashion
Institute of Technology on November 16, 2000 , on the eighth floor of
the ;A; building, from 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM There is no pre-registration
so come early. The fee is ten dollars for non-members.