Matrix Vs. 3Design
My second comment is about the need for a CAD programme for designing jewellery. Is it help or a hindrance? Obviously we all like to have the latest gadgets. If you are hooking the CAD programme up to a CNC machine for making casting patterns. I don't know any top flight jewellers in the UK who use CAD to design jewellery. It seems that it could slow down designing and realisation.
The simple answer is that some designs are better suited to hand
fabrication, while some are better to do in CAD.
I recently had a project to make a band, 7 mm wide, with rails on the
edges and a bible quotation running down the middle, in 4 different
sizes. By the time I drew the ring in 3D, found the right font, laid
out the words and made sure everything was spaced and proportioned
correctly, it took me about a 45 minutes. Finding a religious-looking
font that was millable, really slowed me up. I ran the toolpath and cut
the wax, which took another 45 minutes. I cleaned it off and louped
it. It passed inspection on my end, so I emailed a basic screenshot
rendering of the CAD drawing. to the customer. It took less time to
create the image than it did to write the email. The whole thing took
two hours. The customer phoned me up in Connecticut from his location
in Alaska to say he couldn’t be more happy with it, so I editing the
virtual model to 4 different sizes with a special tool in the program
to size rings. It took me about 5 minutes for each of the remaining 3
ring sizes, including the time to locate the words back into it
position after the band had been scaled. The thickness of the band
didn’t change, only the size.
This example happens to be very easy to do in CAD, but it’s one of
many jewelry designs that I would never have been able to profitably
make by hand, so I would have turned the work down. Other designs with
multiple stone settings or complex pre-beaded pave’ arrangements might
require more CAD skill, but when I worked exclusively at the bench, I
wouldn’t even have considered taking them on. If some had asked me to
make an exact duplicate of their great-grandmother’s worn-out antique
platinum eternity band with alternating semi-bezel round and oval
diamonds and all the fine intricate details of that era of jewelry
design, I might have had the theoretical knowledge of how to make it,
but I didn’t have the bench skill to do even half the level of
complexity that one is able to accomplish in a CAD program.
The ability to determine exact dimensions, metal weights and precise
stone settings and more importantly, the ability to repeat those same
design parameters across a complete line of jewelry has drawn many
manufacturers into the CAD world.
Even so, CAD isn’t the best method to make a lot of things. It
wouldn’t make sense to do a one-of-a-kind, artistic piece that doesn’t
garner a high selling price in CAD, and by the same token, a lot of
expensive high-end artisan pieces are, by nature of their materials
and design, better suited to hand fabrication, but if you can put a
complex diamond piece together in two or three hours on the computer,
that would take a highly skilled craftsman literally days to make by
hand, and still charge the same or even more, (because of better
workmanship), I’d say CAD would be the better way to go.
Creatively, practically and from a business standpoint, it’s really a
matter of choosing the best tool for the job, so I guess it would
depend on the type of jewelry you’re making or the type of jewelry
that you’d like to be making.