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Your favorite 3D authoring suite?

Hello all, I am in the process of building a poor man’s version
CNC/CAD machine. I haven’t yet decided what CAD software driver to
use. I am aware of several 3D authoring suite on the market such as
ArtCam, AutoCad, etc. I have tried FormZ and find it satisfactory. My
main concern is upgradeability support as new versions of Operating
Systems such MacOS or Windows surfaces.

May I ask your opinion as to what some of you use and why ?

Thanks in advance,

Dan Biery
’If hard work is the key to success,
most people would rather pick the lock’
-Claude McDonald

We use Rhino. It is extrem,ely well supported, there are tons of
tutorials all over the net, the makers work very hard at constantly
updating the program, the latest beta is always free for download, it
is very reasonably priced, ESPECIALLY if you are a student somewhere,
they have a great and large and helpful Message Group that is very
active, and the tools are the very best. Plus it takes up little
memory and runs well on 64K, more is better, of course. It also can
produce a very wide range of file formats and it is easily handled by
all milling programs. I haven’t found anything that can’t be done
with it. Check them out at As with any software,
try calling the company to test their support, you’ll like the Rhino
folks. No runaround, instant help. I am a beta tester for another Cad
called Matrix, by GemVision Corp. (, who also
produces a 2D illustration programs for jewelry design where you can
choose from a large library of mountings, findingd, parts, pieces,
shapes, etc, or add you own designs, parts, etc. This program works
in conjunction with a digital camera and my business couldn’t run
without it, period. This 2D program is called Digital Goldsmith. Their
Matrix program is actually based on Rhino, but includes some amazing
scripts called “Builders” which let you build jewelry from a
selection list of choices. I have used it to make illustrations in
ten minutes, that would take an hour in any other CAD.

Wayne Emery

Dan, I have been using Rhino and Amapi for 3D modeling, exporting to
StlWork for generating toolpaths for milling. I tend to prefer Rhino
but for some jobs Amapi works better; also a large difference in ‘look
and feel’ between the two. I’m not sure about how to address your
other than to try to choose separate CAD, CAM, and controler software
packages which work well together rather than an all inclusive
proprietary suite which binds you to a single supplier.

Jeff Demand

Dan, I worked for some 3 years with Art Cam and have some experience
with Cimigrafi both of which are relief modelers.Which is to say no
undercuts surface only not true 3D. In October of last year I started
using rhino to build my models and rams to tool path them. This
combination offers me the greatest variety of application so far in
both 2D and 3D work. I use a 3 and 4 axis mill but can also send my
model work to service builders such as M2 systems should I decide a
part is too complicated to mill or in some cases not possible to
detail. When you consider Rhino and Rams cost $795 and $995
respectively and a mill can be purchased for around $1200 the cost of
CAD CAM has come down considerably. A $1200 dollar mill will take
longer to cut a part of equal quality than say an $8000 dollar one
but the work can be done. I have also looked at visual mill and desk
proto recently for toolpathing and 4 axis work, as well as Amapi and
true space for 3D design. I am a dealer for Rhino and Rams as well as
some mills of various manufacture. Having said that I must also say I
have been a bench jeweler lapidary and model maker for over 25 years
and I love what I can do with my new tools. I like Art Cam and
Cimigrafi but you can have my Rhino if you can talk my children out of
it when I am gone… Good luck to you in your endeavors and if I can
answer any specific questions feel free to contact me,


    have been a bench jeweler lapidary and model maker for over 25
years and I love what I can do with my new tools. I like Art Cam and
Cimigrafi > 

Greetings David and fellow Orchidians (is that a word?)

I too am interested in CAD/CAM but have no experience in the use of
such software what so ever. You give me encouragement by saying you’ve
been a bench jeweller for over 25 years as I am in a similar position.
Do you have any advice for someone starting out on a steep learning
curve to try and learn CAD/CAM? We are a growing business in CAIRNS
Queensland AUSTRALIA (read cash strapped) in need of ability to
produce images and pieces of an organic looking nature.


For the price, Rhino software is very hard to beat. Rhino comes with
a tutorial. There are several links on rhino web cite to other
tutorials. Their are seveal good books on rhino as well as some works
that are specifically designed for jewelry. Before attempting to go
directly into jewelry design, learn the basics of the program, as
well as the vocabulary. Many schools including high schools,
vocational schools and colleges offer programs in computer design.
Take a course. It does not matter if the course is on Autocad and you
are using Rhino. You will learn skills that can be transferred from
one program to another. Also, as the holidays are approaching. Do
not assume that you can learn enough before the holiday season starts
that it will aid you their. If it does consider it a bonus. My first
approach to Rhino was just before we started with the holiday rush.
The added preasure form the rush made it very difficult experience.


Mike: Where would we get Rhino and what would it cost? How much
machine would I need to operate it successfully?



Like yourself, I wanted make the transition into CAD/CAM.

Working for many years as an in-house bench jeweler in small custom
design stores, I was looking to expand my design “palette”.

I’m now making things with CAD that I would never have been able to
fabricate by hand. I’ll always be a goldsmith, but in terms of
expanding my model making abilities, this has been a godsend.

I’ve found CAD/CAM to be a very exciting approach to jewelry model
making. >From the initial design idea, “carving” the 3D model in
Rhino, to the creation of the actual wax model, it’s an amazing

The learning curve really isn’t too bad. It helps if you have a
little experience with a drawing program such as Adobe Illustrator or
Corel Draw.

Rhino is suited to the independent growing jeweler because of it’s
relatively low cost and design versatilty. Handcrafted originality
combine with engineering precision to produce a variety of design
motifs including organic shapes and images. Check out the Rhino site
users gallery to get an idea of what is possible.

Bringing 16 years of bench experience, I recently started working
for an excellent rapid-prototyping and design consultation shop here in
Connecticut. I’m fortunate to be able to learn about this technology
on-the-job, but anyone can pick it up if they have the desire and

M2-Systems has two Rhino tutorial CD’s availiable, one of which is
jewelry specific. Contact us for more info, Orchidians receive
preferential consideration!

Our design team is also planning a course for jewelers which will be
offered in various locations across the country. I’d like to pose a
question to members of the Orchid List. What are your needs are in
terms of CAD/CAM training and jewelry modeling?

We will develop our lessons and tutorials accordingly.


Jesse Kaufman

I am interested in knowing the price of the Rhino system and can you
direct me to a demo to this. I am currently using artcam and rather
happy, but I would love to be able to talk to other users and it seems
as though there are many users of this cad system

scott isaacs

William, Welcome to the group. I am familiar with the Rhino tutorial
CD’s produced by your comapny, M2. I believe they were conceived and
written by Pam Zellers during her time there, and I wanted to say
that I heartily recommend those CD’s to every new or mid-level Rhino
user who wants to make jewelry. They are a TOP QUALITY piece of
work, folks!!! I always recommend Rhino as the CAD of choice for those
wanting to use it for jewelry design/manufacture and for those who
buy it (btw, it’s available to students for $195, yes, full version)
and I recommend they immediately purchase the Rhino Workbook and your
company’s CD to get them off on the right track.

Wayne Emery

Go to for the demo download and website.

Hi William, You can download Rhino evaluation version free from This allows you up to 254 saves. The tutorial should also
be downloaded. They have a news group, plus the producers, Mcneel are
very helpful.

After you are satisfied with the evaluation copy, you should buy the
commercial version.

We have started using this for the past few months and are quite