Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Thoughts about CAD-CAM rapid prototyping

Hello Jesse: Just a quick observation on what I’ve seen marketed that
I can identify as the product of CAD-CAM rapid prototyping. In the
hands of a trained artist/crafstman, this tool has great potential. I
think what we’ll see in the near future coming out of Stanley
Lechzin’s program at Temple University will be worth watching. A lot
of what I’ve seen on the market is dreary, formulaic design, often
done in complete ignorance of considerations of finishing, durability,
wearability, stone setting, casting, etc. Even before we had the
rapid prototyping, we had every wannabe with a computer graphics
program churning out blocky geometric designs and jobbing them out to
trade shops so they could be “designers”. They were impossible to
set and finish properly, etc., and now the market is flooded with the
"look" of this stuff. We had a very expensive platinum and diamond
necklace in our inventory. We sold it for $60,000, but the customer
finally returned it after repeatedly having to have us replace quarter
carat diamonds that kept popping out of their settings because the
hinges articulated directly under the stones and pushed them out. I
could tell by the design that this was a CAD-CAM article. What I fear
is happening is that manufacturers are hiring folks with associates
degrees in drafting from community college level programs instead of
relying on the higher paid experienced craftspeople. I know store
owners who have resisted for years hiring competent craftspeople that
think this technology will allow them to have their inexperienced
technicians compete with experienced craftsmen. They’ll spend big
bucks for a package deal which, if they knew what to look for and
where to look, they could get for a third the money. They’re hoping
to get a share of the custom market which people like myself CREATED
when the mall stores took away their bread and butter watch and chain
sales. And it’s being marketed to just these people. CAD-CAM is a
sophisticated tool, very powerful, but it’s no substitute for
training, experience, and talent. As with the computer: Garbage In -
Garbage Out.

David L. Huffman

I fully agree that in order to best utilize cad/cam technology in
the jewelry industry you need to first be a bench jeweler. These kids
that are learning how to design on the computer are not learning how
metal and stones co-exist. Hinges and bezels are great, but unless
you can account for wear and modifications(sizing) then they can
become problems down the road. The learning curve of a bench jeweler
is tremendous. I have been stone setting and sizing for over ten
years and am now just becoming comfortable with my skills. Mike Adams
from Model Master was quoted saying that cad/cam is only a tool to
help the bench jeweler, not to replace him. Scott Isaacs Berry’s
Jewelry Co. -Nashville, Tn Cad/ cam designs in metal

David, Well said regarding CAD/CAM. In the hands of a person with a
good knowledge of bench techniques, stone setting, casting, =
hand-buliding limitations, etc., CAD/CAM is a powerful tool. As a
retailer with a long background in designing I find it= to be a tool
that may let me eat my local competitor’s lunch, in time, and with
great diligence. But in hands that know = only how to create “pretty
pieces”, it’s a disaster. Just last week a representative of an LA
firm visited our store to “wow” me with his company’s capabilities.
A loose lea= f binder full of Phong rendered images of square edged
designs with a definite CorelDraw look. Amateurish was not the wo=
rd. He continued to try to impress me with their RP capabilities and
milling capabilities, but this gentleman’s knowledge= of the subject
was barely skin deep. I really didn’t want to embarass him with some
of our Rhino/Matrix files, so I just told him I wasn’t interested. As
you say, GIGO…

Wayne Emery

I totally agree with that. RP is a great tool to help jewelry industry
not replace model maker. The user of RP should have also basic skill
to make jewelry such as stone set, polish and all measurement.

I have been jeweler for twenty years own Jewel Cad and MM2 system. I
love it. Model Maker from Hong Kong

Bangkok jewelry show ( Sept 13-16) HongKong jewelry show (Sept 21-25 )

Mike Adams is someone who developed CAD/CAM technology from within the
industry, he has a background as a jeweler and model maker. I find
that my system is an adjunct to my fabrication and modeling skills. 2D
and 3D systems have a place within the processes of model making, the
software is sophisticated enough to allow tremendous potentials in
design. It still boils down to design talent and metal working skills
to put innovative pieces into the market place.

Rick Hamilton
Custom gold and platinum jewelry
CAD/CAM and conventional modelmaking

Hey Wayne,

What made you decide to go with Matrix for 3D designing in place of
just purchasing Rhino 3D? Rhino is a much less expensive. I currently
use Gemvision’s Digital Goldsmith for my remount business which has
been extremely invaluable. But I’ve been hard pressed to purchase
Matrix because of the price since there are many programs available to
do the job for alot less money. How do you like Matrix? Are you using
a servic bureau for milling and rapid prototyping or did you buy your
own mill. Give me a shout back.

Kevin Fertenbaugh
Hasko Jewelers

Hi Kevin, I have been using Rhino for about two years. I like it just
fine, but the advantage I see with Matrix is the scripting or
"Builders" feature that it offers, and the great integrtion with
Flamingo as the renderer. Example: While it is certainly possible to
build a curved, eleven stone tapered channel complete with proper
seats for all stones in Rhino, it takes a few hundred commands and
probably at LEAST two hours, if you don’t make a mistake. Matrix
"scripts" the necessary commands by letting you choose from a list of
things, and gets the job done in maybe fifteen minutes. Matrix also
includes a scalable set of accurate gems in many shops and the
ability to build heads, for example, that are accurae and correct with
anywhere from two to as many prongs as you want. You can choose the
shape, length, profile, stone seat depth, etc., from a pull-down
list, so almost anyone can learn to do this fairly quickly. To
accurately do that in Rhino takes quite abit of training. As I work in
Rhino/Matrix, I am diligently making libraries of ring shanks, heads,
bezels, trims, etc. The larger the library of parts and pieces I
have to select from, the less I have to build, although I see no end
in sight. Of course, the more library items I have, the less I need
Matrix, perhaps, but that point is a loooooong way off. I don’t
suggest Matrix for the occasional CAD user, price is prohibitive, and
there IS a learning curve, and some hardware requirements, like WIN
2000, lots of ram, 32 meg or better video card with correct chipset,
etc. But it is my specialty, so I think it’s a worthwhile
investment…for me. Heck, I’m addicted! By the way, I am a beta
tester for Matrix and was aoffered a good deal from the
beginning…there have been some frustrtions, but GemVision is good
to their word. Of course, you aloready know that. Great company,
great people, great product. Oh, I farm out milling and RP…right
now I don’t have time to learn how to run a CNC mill…maybe a litle
later, when there are more hours in a day.


What IBelieve to be the best combination of skills to use a cad/cam
system is that the person should be at least a jeweler… Better yet,A
model maker/mold maker . A really good model maker/mold maker has the
ability to understand and calculate shrinkage factors , sprueing
location , thick and thin issues related to waxing, mold making and
casting. We presently have 3 cnc/cad systems in operation… and we
get all kinds of designs from various designers … some are
excellent and have great computer skills and are capable of giving us
computer generated artwork that is easy to convert to cnc. Some give
us art that requires a lot of " guessing " at what the final piece
should be.Some artwork we recieve is hand drawn and can also be used,
but usually requires a lot more computer time on our side . what I
find is that being a model maker for many years has helped a lot when
we receive cpu art/drawings to create a model for a customer. In many
cases, the final model requires a combination of skills , where the
computer time would be far in excess of the hand made time and a
decision has to be made in regards to that cost.

An example is a recent item we made that is about the size of a
nickel, it had a twisted rope style border, a large logo in the center
that had to be raised and raised lettering that had to be on the
inside of the border There was so much wording in the item and the
letters were very small and difficult to cut with the available
cutters… so we had to make the cutters ourselves.

The problem started out when the customer sent us a rendering that
was about 5 inches in diameter , but the final product needed to be
21 mm finished… by simply reducing the artwork to the actual size,
we realized that it was not going to work the way it was drawn and
many modifications had to be made to give the customer a really good
looking piece.Before we could inform the customer of the problem, we
felt it neccessary to find the solution and did about 10 hours of
computer and machine time to test the concept out.When the art work
was ready and we new it would be possible to do the item, we sent the
artwork out for final approval to the cutomer . some pieces are
simple, some are complex… but what I advise is that anyone who
designs anything in a large drawing and wants it a certain size,
reduce it to the size you want first to see if it is possible to make
before sending it out to some one like us … it will help the
designer of the item as much as the person who has to produce it. Jsut
my 2 cents worth.

Daniel Grandi We do casting/ finishing, cad/cam and hand made
models for people in the trade

I would not necessarily agree that from the standpoint of a designer
that wants to design digitally, that it would require that individual
to be a proficient jeweller. The designer, as a stand alone entity
does not require this in-depth knowledge of production as many see it,
because this is not their job. However if the designer is both the
designer and the model maker, then in this instance I would agree that
the bench and manufacturing knowledge is imperative. My feeling is
that, this discussion, is not taking into consideration the many
facets and types of businesses before coming to a conclusion of what
has to written in stone as far as CAD/CAM is concerned.

From a Service Bureau view point, many individuals merely wish to
design a product and tag it as their own, but this does not mean that
they wish, or have the ability to produce the item themselves. This is
evident, in that Daniel, M2, and myself have built successful
businesses servicing such individuals.

who are designers, who know what they want, but not necessarily know
how to execute the project. This can be a mind bender in trying to
establish what it is the customer is looking for, especially, when the
task is driven by a 2D sketch. However, if we look at the fact that a
3D model determines the design intent of what the designer has in mind
more accurately, then this has already equated into a model that has
90% of the intact. Whether the model is correct or not, is
not important at this first viewing of the file. What is important, is
that the Rapid Prototyper/Service Bureau (SB) has the obligation as
model makers to make this happen with the correct allowances in place.
Therefore, the designers should let loose their creativeness in a
digital format, and pass along the necessary to someone
that can implement the design and avoid all of the manufacturing
pitfalls that need to be addressed. It is our duty as professionals
and Service Bureaus to determine how the model will be manufactured,
and therefore the changes can be implemented by the designer with
direction from the SB, or conversely changes can be done in house by
the SB. I prefer for the designer to implement these changes under
guidance, because as time goes on, they will learn, and provide better
and better models that actually come pretty close to what the model
should be like at the end of the day.

I would like to point out, that just because a business calls itself
a Service Bureau, this does not mean by any stretch of the mark that
they will guide you down the right path. Therefore, do your homework
and try to the best of your ability, to determine whether they can
deliver the product requested with the full understanding of what it
is you need. A jeweller buying a system, does not mean that they are
now model makers or a Service Bureau. A model maker needs a thorough
knowledge of processes and be able to implement strategically driven
solutions for a problem free production environment. Again, the
designer only needs to input the direction that the finished model
should take, and not how it will get there.

Another important note, is to go with a service bureau that uses the
same software as you do and is proficient in that software, so that
you are all on the same page. I specialize in Solidworks files,
therefore when it comes to making changes I have control of what is
going on, and can intelligently work on those models in their native
environment. Other Bureaus will be proficient in Rhino and /or
Jewelcad and so forth, and therefore those are the Service Bureau
entities that one should consider if you are using Rhino or jewelcad
etc. This does not mean that we cannot process other software
generated files, it just makes more sense to work with someone that
is on the same page as you are from a software standpoint.

Not all problems and solutions are created equal.

If I can assist anyone in their efforts, whether they need software
help or even if you are a CNC user and need help on machining
strategies and why you keep breaking your cutters :slight_smile: give me a call,
and I will be glad to help.

Best Regards.
Neil George