Learning CAD

Putting aside any questions about the ability of CAD to replace hand
work, there is no question that those who hire for academic positions
in Metals and Jewelry want to see CAD ability.

So I’m thinking of taking a course.

What is the best way/place to learn it?

I’m in Chicagoland-- there must be many options.

Or is it worth it if I don’t personally want to use it?


I’d research which CAD programs are in use by academic programs
you’d be interested in joining, and doing a search for classes in
those programs.

They’re all different and all have quirks, so specialization will
make you an even more appealing candidate.

waves somewhat shyly from Logan Square

Best of the best luck,
G. Rowan McIntyre


you can learn anywhere for initial knowledge to handle the software.

Many freelancers working in CAD making with very affordable prices.

you can take a good 3D printer on your desk. & make your jewelry fast
& accurate. Many companies giving facility for printing 3d prototype
also nearby you.

Kapil Jain.

First, I recommend joining http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep80qv

There are a few different CAD programs, some of which are
multipurpose and have jewelry centric plugins. By far the most common
modeling program is Rhino.Common plugins for Rhino are Matrix,
RhinoGold and RhinoRing.

No CAD program is easy. Some just excel in one area and have
deficits in another. A common mistake is that people can’t get Rhino
to work, so they lay out the big money for a plugin thinking it will
solve all of their problems. Plugins do not magically allow you to
use Rhino, they just let you work faster. They basically automate
things. So if you find Rhino isn’t for you, then I saved you a lot of

Rhino comes in a free trial version that lets you use it for up to
25 saves. I would start there with self training. This is my standard
recommendation for new CAD designers:

Skip the plugin training (Matrix, RhinoGold, etc.) until you learn
this. Go through these as fast as you can to get an overview of the
Rhino landscape.

Then go through them again and don’t move on to the next thing until
you have a firm understanding as things build upon themselves. Google
is your friend and you can delve deeper into any topic.


(just the first half of making the ring, not the mold making or tooling half)

Hi Noel,

Dunno about learning in your area, but it’s definitely one of those
skills where you have to keep it up, or it vanishes.

So add the cost of a seat of whatever your favorite program is to
your guesstimate on the cost of learning, and budget time to keep
working with it.



You can learn it online 24/7 from The Jewelry Cad Institute right
from your own home. Learn at your own rate and have unlimited access
to videos and documentation forever for review.

Russ Hyder

I know they teach it at Pumping Station One and SAIC. Junior
colleges might have short, efficient classes.


there is no question that those who hire for academic positions in
Metals and Jewelry want to see CAD ability. 

You’ll get plenty on this question.

First, Noel, I’ve noticed over the years that you have actively
sought to grow, more than some. That’s a fine thing. CAD can’t do
ANYTHING, but it does a pretty good job with anything that is cast.
It’s a casting process in the end, for the practical time being. You
can either lay down on the tracks in front of the train or you
canget on it, either actively or passively. It is sweeping the
industry, like it or not.

If a person wants to enter the professional side of the jewelry
industry, I’d say these days they need one of three things - extreme
skills at the bench and/or in high-tech workshops, sales and
marketing ability or CAD training, if not all three.

People are going to mention Rhino, which is a fine program. The
go-to programs for CAD jewelrypros are either 3Design or Matrix 3D.
I’ve never heard anything compelling that makes one dramatically
better than the other. They are both in the $20K range to buy.
Either one will take six months to learn and at least a year to get
good at. I wouldn’t pay money for training for anything but one of
those two programs, as they are the future of jewelry CAD at the

3Design lists some educational resources on their site:

I need to move on with my afternoonso I can’t look through the
Gemvision site for that, but I imagine it’s inthere somewhere:

I will add that 3Design is or was from Dassault Systemes, which is
the maker of big time CAD ware for making jet planes and the like -
it comes from good family.

If you don’t intend to use it yourself then it’s waist of time and
money butagain if you learn it you defiantly want to use it.


Paris Jr College Paris Junior College offers a
semester course in Matrix with the mill and 3D printer.

Shannon Calloway

Hi Noel, We’re not in Chicago, but Rio Grande does offer a 3 day CAD
intro class that will cover the basics of how CAD works. As we do
sell 3Design, that is what our class is based around and taught on.
No hiding the fact that the reason we offer the class is that we hope
the students will see the benefit of CAD and purchase our software.
That being said, you do not have to buy the software first, and then
pay even more to take this training class. It is often filled with
students that have very limited experience with CAD and are wanting
to test the waters before jumping full in. You can takea look at the
Rio website or message me offline to find out more info.

Best regards,
Patrick Sage
Rio Grande Product Manager

I’m sorry, 3Design costs $3700 for a full license which means you
have the capability to creat an STL file which is the file that goes
to the CAM machines or $2900 for the design version which will not
create the STL file but 3Design will provide you with a list of
service bureaux in your area that willtransfer your file to STL for
a small fee or free. Training will cost 2 X $1500 for beginning and
advanced classes. 3Design is used allover the world and it’s a very
powerful program.

Hope this is helpfully.
Vasken Tanielian

Noel, I would echo those who’ve said that you need to use it
regularly to become proficient enough to feel comfortable enough with
the software to teach it. The best way to do that is to use it in
your work to produce whole pieces or elements of pieces, that will
force you to use it. The software is just too vast to learn if you’re
not using it all the time. Each task has multiple solutions, each
solution uses a variety of tools, each tool has several applications,
each application can meet a variety obstacles. You just can’t get a
grip on it without using it all the time.


I’m sorry about the typo in my previous response. The cost of
3Design full version is $6700. And I agree with mark; to learn CAD
requires commitment.


Mark, you are exactly correct.

We have been teaching CAD & CNC jewelry making now for a lot of
years. If you are anything but fluent in the process and use it. I
would say “Daily” then in my opinion, teaching the CAD or any other
portion of the process would be severely lacking in the knowledge and
proper techniques passed on to the one learning. That would be a sad
experience for all involved. If you don’t actually “Do It” then there
are just so many things you can’t possibly be aware of. It’s like
teaching someone that has never made a piece of jewelry. or sit at a
bench… or set a stone… to draw a piece of jewelry in CAD that
can actually be produced so the stones can be properly set and it can
be comfortably worn. You’re trying to build a house with no
foundation. It can be done… but not easily and will it stay
together and really function when completed.


Dan on the whole i would agree on this thread but if the students are
taughtwhat a master bench jeweler knows in proper setting, prong and
channel thicknesses, shrinkage allowances through the casting and
finishing processes I would think they would know how to "engineer"
the design. This workflow is used here at The Jewelry Cad Institute.
I also agree that the learning processnever ends with cad as in all
other parts of jewelry mfg. and repair. If you don’t use it you lose
it. If cad users are serious they use it everyday.

I first saw a CAD/CAM system at Gold Machinery Co. I was trained as
a jewelry model maker, so I realized the potential, though the cost
was prohibitive. I started looking around, and bought a ModelMaster
1000 in 1999. I still love to fabricate in 18k gold, but CNC is a
handy tool.

Well put Russ. It doesn’t matter much “How” that foundation is
obtained… just so it exists. Looking over the right jewelers
shoulder is invaluable.



I think for those of us that love the trade and the work NO whiz
bang tool could ever replace the feeling of setting at a bench and
just making it all work and come together with our hands. From the
feel and smell of the wax to watching that 18K jump from rough to
polish, there is just nothing like it. CNC is exactly what you
said… “A Tool”. Just like a pair of chain nose pliers or a bench

Keep On! Dan.