JewelCAD version 5.1 (update 10) is now available. It is a bugs fixed version of previous version 5.1 (update 9) and with enhanced functions. This update version can support the USB or Parallel type dongle in MS Windows Vista. New features in this version can be found in the following release notes.
. -. JewelCAD release notes
JewelCAD Designer Sketch Version
A new curves sketching program extreme easy for Jewelry designers to learn and use.
Without the modeling burden on creativity, designers just need to play exclusively with curves and coordinate their top-front-side views into one single piece, creating a model in 3D curves. Work can be carried on easily and precisely by more experienced 3D modelers to build the exact models. It is the ideal way to build up skills gradually, get better looking jewelry and achieve cost savings.
Considering Cad By John Shanahan
JewelCAD Designer version for EnvisionTec-Perfactory is now available. JewelCAD Designer version with slicing output capability is bundled with every EnvisionTec Perfactory RP machines for users in jewellery industry. Users can upgrade the bundled software to full version with special price through local distributors.
For the last decade, this technology has been revolutionizing the way jewelry is created, from conceptualization to presentation. Once the provenance of the large industrial parts industry (think jet engines), CAD/CAM has moved away from its heavy engineering roots and developed into software and hardware solutions that are user-friendly and artist-intuitive.
Once you’re used to it, that is. All CAD software has an inherent learning curve. Software companies typically estimate this curve to be three to six months, depending on the person learning and the amount of time spent with the program. But once the training is in place — combined with practical, real-world knowledge of how to put together a piece of jewelry — these programs allow artists to design and create any piece, no matter how complex.
San Diego-based jeweler Paul Klecka has been designing in CAD almost exclusively since 2003. He began using the technology because he could immediately see the potential design efficiencies.
Take carving wax, for example. “Even if you can accomplish that in 90 minutes or so, doing the same design in CAD might be a five-minute render and you’re done,” Klecka says. “[With wax carving,] if you wanted to alter that wax for a different finger size or a different-size center stone, you have to start all over, or you have to mold it and then manipulate your second-generation waxes. On the other hand, in CAD, you can simply go in and change the digital file and re-output it. The ease of making those changes is incredibly more efficient than the hand methods.”
Klecka is a dedicated user of Gemvision Matrix, the most popular CAD program for jewelry makers. When he was introduced to the software, he immediately liked the way it closely mimicked on-screen how he typically designed off-screen. “When I’m making a ring in wax, I start with the finger size as the benchmark, and everything builds out from that in terms of dimensions,” he says. “From there, I add my allowances or tolerances for the gemstones I’m using. I found that working in CAD mirrored that process. I would start my digital model in the same way — with the finger size, my shank thickness, and my allowances and tolerances for the stones. Once those were in place, I could add my skeleton — the essential lines, if you will — to map out where I was going to go with the digital mesh.”
The software also gave him the ability to “build negatively” — that is, to begin his designs with a block on-screen, imitating a block of wax, and allow him to use digital tools to carve away at it in three dimensions.
But despite enjoying the similarities to real-world design, these days Klecka is more likely to take advantage of the software’s “builders.” These tools allow a jeweler to walk through the creation of many standard jewelry design tasks by inputting certain parameters and allowing the system to build it for you. The latest release, Gemvision 5.3, includes builders for pavé settings, custom gemstones, eternity rings, and more.
Klecka is so deeply into CAD/CAM that on his newest Web site, www.pksignatures.com, every jewelry image shown is a CAD rendering. There is no actual photography.
“It’s a communication tool,” he says. “If you go to the engagement section of my site and click on the bypass floater ring, and you’d like to see it in 18K gold with a princess-cut center stone and the top two bars in platinum rather than yellow gold, I can take that form that’s been created in [wire] mesh and show it to you in many different configurations.”
That ability to quickly change the look of a jewelry piece without reverting to pen and paper and re-sketching it from scratch is one of the many benefits Klecka has found in CAD software. With a few clicks of the mouse, everything from metal type to stone sizes can be changed. And the on-screen models are extremely close to what the finished product will look like.
Lee Krombholz of Krombholz Jewelers in Cincinnati let his interest in computers in general bring him to CAD. Since 2002, he has tried several programs, beginning with JewelCAD, then migrating to the more robust but more industrially focused Rhino system before ending up, like Klecka, at Matrix — which uses Rhino’s technology and tweaks it to be more jewelry-oriented. “I realized that what they had developed was far more valuable for me, time-wise,” he says.
Krombholz uses CAD largely to produce his custom work, but also finds the benefit of Matrix’s builders in putting together more mundane designs. “We produce about 10 custom pieces a week on average,” he says. “Of those 10 pieces, while I certainly like to design interesting things, the majority of them can be rather basic. Matrix’s builders work well for setting up a ring size, adding gems. There’s a head builder that I use almost daily to build basket heads. It helps keep the time you spend on basic things to a minimum.”
Pat Pruitt is a metalsmith and jeweler based in Paguate, New Mexico. He has been using CAD/CAM since 1997, but in a way that’s different than the majority of jewelers. Rather than creating models that can be milled or grown in wax, Pruitt is sending his digital CAD files to his in-house milling machine and cutting the models directly from stainless steel.
To this end, he uses a CAD system that he admits is “more industrial and part-specific than free-form.” His system of choice is SolidWorks, but he also integrates CorelDraw to create shapes and forms that are very organic or otherwise difficult to generate in SolidWorks.
SolidWorks is still largely a mechanical engineer’s software package, but Pruitt stands by it and its capabilities, especially in regards to his usage of it. “SolidWorks was the choice for me because it had a much easier learning curve. The other choices at that time — Mastercam, Pro/ENGINEER, and AutoCAD — were geared toward the machining industry. While SolidWorks may not be the CAD program of choice for jewelry artisans, it is a very robust package.” While he recognizes that there are other, more jewelry-focused systems out there, he sticks with what he knows best.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is West Hartford, Connecticut, jeweler Jesse Kaufman. Taking to CAD/CAM five years ago due to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome while working as a goldsmith, Kaufman is now in the process of testing and developing tutorials for a totally new system from the original developer of Rhino called Moment of Inspiration (MoI). This next-generation software is intended to bring greater artistic freedom to CAD through a user interface that can be driven either by a mouse or a touchscreen tablet with a special “pen” that translates what the artist draws into a digital model. In fact, the program is built around the idea of making a pen tablet easier to use in CAD.
While MoI is still in a beta-test version, Kaufman prefers to work in ArtCAM. “ArtCAM handles flowing, organic designs very well,” he says. “It’s more like sculpting, and it’s less demanding than other CAD programs. There’s a sculpting module where you can use the mouse like a cutting tool.” Unlike the virtual wax block Klecka mentioned, Kaufman prefers to create a basic design, then use this tool to digitally carve details into the piece.
Another module Kaufman derives much use from is one that produces cameos from scanned photos. “You can take an image of a profile, and the program generates a 3-D approximation of the photo,” he says. “Then you go back with the sculpting tools and refine it.”
ArtCAM’s “JewelSmith Solution” suite offers a variety of tools for jewelry creation, including 3-D relief modeling, 3-D surface modeling, embossing tools, and a substantial library of standard jewelry parts that can be incorporated into designs.
Artists who have brought CAD/CAM into their operations can sound downright evangelical about how it has affected their business.
“CAD/CAM has immensely changed how I look at fabricating jewelry,” Pruitt says. “Now there is absolutely no guesswork. Parts can be designed and cut with the utmost precision and accuracy, giving you the ability to produce a perfect piece of jewelry. The repeatability of producing the part again and again with zero flaws is great in a production environment.”
Krombholz has seen his custom work increase since he began using CAD. “I’m a third-generation jeweler, and our business has always had a reputation for custom design,” he says. “In each of the last two years, I’ve been able to double the amount of custom jewelry we’re able to produce. The only change has been the use of CAD design, and the ability to create these overwhelmingly satisfied customers who are going to go out and say, ‘If you want to do something, you need to go to Krombholz.’ ”
While CAD/CAM fans glow when they talk about this technology, it comes with a hefty price tag: A single-user copy of Matrix goes for $6,700; ArtCAM’s JewelSmith suite, for $7,500; and SolidWorks ranges from $3,995 for its basic version to $7,995 for its deluxe Office Premium. But users say the speed, efficiency, and accuracy that CAD/CAM brings to jewelry making is well worth the investment of time and money.
Klecka sums up succinctly what could be the best reason to use CAD/CAM: “I recognized that this was the way the world was headed,” he says, “and I didn’t want to be left behind.”
JewelCAD By Stephen and Nancy Attaway
While some CAD software has been designed specifically for the jeweler, it may actually be difficult for the jeweler to use. Jewelers speak in terms of "four-prong basket heads for a round stone," while CAD software usually speaks in terms of "round cylinders with a 90° symmetry about a central axis." Much of the documentation for CAD software is difficult, if not impossible, to understand, simply because the people writing software would much rather write software than write manuals about how to use software.
'One advantage that JewelCAD offers is an expansive library of parts. The user can select from a variety of designs that can be easily modified. One disadvantage of JewelCAD is that it is not possible to import designs for custom- faceted, irregularly shaped stones. '
A trend that we are seeing is the wrapping of a jewelry design interface around CAD software. For example, Digital Goldsmith Matrix from GemVision (www.gemvision.com) uses Rhinoceros as the modeling engine. Their product includes a parts library and has a jewelry-friendly interface that makes the software more compatible.
Creating a good image. An important part of the design process is creating a realistic-looking picture of finished jewelry. A realistic image is important, because it enhances the communication for custom designs between the jewelry designer and the customer. Be careful not to confuse imaging software with 3D design software. Several software packages allow the user to design by working with photos. These packages are fast at overlaying and merging photos to help communicate a design. They do not, however, provide a design that can be manufactured using rapid prototyping processes.
Rendering is the process of creating a photo-realistic image from the solid model. Because this is a computer-intensive process, creating a realistic image from a solid model is usually a separate step. Rendering an image from a solid model is an art in itself. One has to select the lighting, view the angle, and check the background. Some programs provide simple shading, while others will trace the rays of light from their source through the stone to give a very real image. For the better packages, it can be hard to tell if the image is from a real part or just a computer part.
Most customers will be delighted with a good photo of their prospective designs. Modern computers allow us to go a step further. Imagine the possibilities when you can show a movie of a prospective design. SolidWorks has Web-based tools that allow designs to be e-mailed and viewed in three dimensions. This tool allows the fully 3D design to be reviewed. These tools also permit cross-country collaborations.
Selecting a Software Tool. We have tried several different software packages for computer-aided design. Advantages and disadvantages accompany each software package. Often, the most general software will be the most difficult to use. The challenge is to find software that is capable, yet easy to use. Most of the time, the most capable and easy-to-use software is the most expensive. However, some of the more expensive software packages are all but impossible to use.
There are very inexpensive 3D software options that can be used to gain experience. Older versions of Truespace, for example, are available for under $100. Out of the box, these tools may seem useless for jewelry design. However, in a presentation at the AGTA show in Tucson, Randy Hays of Jewelscapes Imaging showed how this simple package can be used very effectively if you have a parts library.
For the most part, software packages are not very interchangeable. We tried to create surfaces using the engraving software and import them into the engineering software. While this was possible, it was not practical. Often the mathematical methods used to construct the model differ greatly from program to program. While we would like to have one software package that does it all, we have found that each software package excels in one or two areas.
For example, one feature that is well done in SolidWorks is the ability to parametize designs. Designing a ring so that the ring size can be input as a parameter is easy in SolidWorks. Other programs require you to totally redo the design for each size ring.
While SolidWorks allows engineering precision, it does not allow for easy creation of swirls and loops. While these can be created in SolidWorks, it may take 10 to 20 steps. The same process may take only a few steps for a program like JewelCAD, which was designed to do this type of thing from the start. Trying to create a cameo design in either SolidWorks or JewelCAD is next to impossible. However, ARTCAM and Semigraphi specialize in software for cameos.
For most cases, learning to drive the software can take some time. CAD-CAM is quickly becoming a part of the jeweler's formal education. For example, the Gemological Institute of America is currently offering CAD-CAM training. General CAD-CAM training is also taught at community colleges across the country. In addition, many of the more expensive CAD packages offer their own training options. Most software companies offer demo versions that can be downloaded or ordered from the Web for free.
Is it art? Most software packages are very powerful tools that allow you to create designs more quickly and with more precision than by hand carving the wax. However, even the most powerful manufacturing tool allows you to create a design that only you will like.
Creating a design with an artistic intent that is liked by all still remains a labor of love. Remember that the invention of the camera did not replace oil paintings, and the invention of the video camera did not create millions of great movies. CAD/CAM programs that allow the manufacture of jewelry designs will not replace the artist.
As we have learned more, our designs have increased in complexity. With these new tools, we can render jewelry images and make the seats for the stone that correctly correspond to the dimensions of the gemstone that we want to set. Length, width, and depth are all taken into account, as well as the pavilion angles that were used in faceting the stone. This information allows us to make such an accurate seat for the stone that it can reduce the setting time by a factor of ten. Also, tapered settings for small diamond accents or other melee allow these stones to slip in and be set without adjusting the metal very much. Designing unique gallery work in the settings for large stones is now fun. The real problem is that it is now too easy to change a design again and again because the possibilities of design exploration seem endless.
If you would like to learn more about rapid prototyping, then see the Web sites listed above. You can also find more information on the Web sites: www.Sculptor.Org/Technology/rapidpro.htm; www.cc.utah.edu/~asn8200/rapid.html; and home.att.net/~castleisland.
Scanning 3D Images. 3D Web pages are creating a demand for 3D images. We are already starting to see libraries of 3D images on the Web; in the near future, almost anything imaginable will be available on the Web as 3D clip art. The geometry of animals, cars, plants, and people are already available on the Internet and can be purchased on CDS.
There are also tools that help create lifelike 3D images. Several companies are currently making 3D scanners. With these tools, a part can be sculpted in clay and then scanned or probed to create a surface with the computer. The idea of scanning a person's face or an object will mean that customers will be able to create very personal designs that include grandchildren and pets or that celebrate special life events.