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Laser or CAD/CAM


i am Curious on what you all think, if you had to pick one or the
other, which item would you choose, a laser or a CNC four axis
machine? and why? pros and cons are what i am looking for and if you
recomend a system why, you can contact me off the board if you like
but i am sure that others would be interested in it as well.

Aaron A Tracy


Aaron, My choice would be a laser. The one in my shop is used
constantly for both repairs, assembly work and repairing minor
porosity in castings. The learning curve is measured in a few weeks
for the laser as opposed to months for cad. The day your laser is
unloaded at your door you can make money. I shopped very hard for a
laser and chose the Haas laser from Trumpf in Farmington,Ct. They
don’t show at jewelry shows, however they have made them longer than
anyone else that I know of. We have four jewelers in our shop and we
also allow other jewelers to rent time at one dollar per minute…
you know when its running it makes money… Karel Moerings



Interesting question you pose considering the two things are so
different. When you say laser do you mean engraver? Welder? Cutter?
It rea= lly depends on what kind of operation you have and what you
make. A four axi= s CNC is a really incredible pc of machinery that
can make many objects, but= it can’t do what a laser does and visa
versa. Maybe if you can fill us in m= ore on your operations or
intentions we can make more intelligent suggestion= s that might help

Tino Volpe
Metallurgist, Technical Manager
Tiffany & Co.
300 Maple Ridge Drive
Cumberland, RI 02864-8707


In my case, I chose the CAD/CAM system. Part of my early training
was in model making, CAM allows me to produce pieces that would take
much longer by hand methods. Think about raised or incised lettering
in any font, accurately Quite frequently the machined pieces are
either only a part of the finished model, in combination with
fabricated or hand carved cast elements. The studio that I work from
does repairs, and some repairs can be best done with a Laser Welder,
we send them out. So far, I can’t quite justify the cost, but I
probably will take the plunge, especially if I can get a refurbished

Rick Hamilton


The decision would depend a lot on what branch of my work I wished
to follow. For my repair work, the laser would be the obvious
choice, as it would pay for itself much more quickly, and would allow
me to do repair work that I can’t do now, or to what I am doing
better and more profitably. For my design work, I would rather have
CAD. I don’t want to get into the CAM part, just a personal thing.
My desire is to be able to get my ideas into a presentable form
quickly and accurately, and I can’t draw worth a hang. I very much
like the GemVision type of idea, where I can photograph, for
instance, a customers engagement ring and then build a custom
wedding ring on the screen with their input. Being able to make
quick changes with photographic levels of reality would be a great
help for me. I still prefer to hand carve or fabricate the resulting
designs, though. If I had the cash to fool around with (dream on), I
would probably get the CAD system first to pursue the custom and
design end of my business, then eventually look at the laser if I
felt it would enhance my situation to have it. In reality, the
repairs are so important to our livelihood right now that the laser
would make much more sense. Jim, in the mountains of WNC, where the
sun is finally with us for a few days!!!


Hello Aaron: What a loaded question. I want them both. Assuming that
you have access to the money, I would say that if most of the money
your shop generates is in repairs, you should pick the laser. I have
come to realize that there are really very few repairs that I cannot
do without a laser. I have also come to realize from comments from
many others, that there are very few repairs that cannot be completed
in half the time with a laser. If repair is something that you could
pick up more of if you had the time then a laser could be your
choice. What do they cost new $25,000.00 or maybe leasing one is a
better option. The town I’m in is small and I would probably need to
have every account in town to pay for a laser and since the
technology is fairly new, we don’t really know how long a laser will
last before needing major repair. How about it you laser owners, How
long do they last?

If you do allot of custom work then how about that cad-cam system.
What a dream. I have wanted one ever since I heard about them. I
watched a guy at the American Gem society conclave demonstrate the
Matrix software and I was drooling. The customer comes in with 3 old
rings from aunt Gertrude and you design a ring without carving a wax.
I have carved many waxes only to start over because the customer
changed their mind about something. You can buy the software for
about $7,000.00 and design the item and have the customer approve it
and then pay someone with a CAM to carve it. But beware of the
learning curve.

In the right market you can’t go wrong with either choice. Michael R.
Mathews Sr. Victoria,Texas USA JACMBJ


it was more of a "which would you choose if you could have only one"
question. i did mean a welding laser, commonly used for jewelery
repair. i have heard great things about both and was wondering which
someone with both would choose over the other and why.

Aaron A Tracy


The learning curve with ArtCAM, at least, is not that difficult. A
couple days of training would have you carving useful pieces. A
couple more would get you into the rotary table and carving pieces
that are much more complex. Personally, I have been happy with my
decision, but then, I am much happier creating rather than repairing
items. But then, the laser welder has opened a new range of
possibilities in assembling pieces- it would have come in very handy
on the enameled pin I made a few months ago. Well, in a few more
months, I will have the milling system paid off…

Rick Hamilton