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CAD/CAM in Jewellery

06 Oct 2021

In recent years, new, sophisticated technology has emerged for jewellery designers and manufacturers. CAD and CAM are technologies that demonstrate how creativity can use computer calculations to create stunning jewellery pieces. The acronyms denote all systems that assist design (CAD = Computer Aided Design) and manufacturing (CAM = Computer Aided Manufacturing) through a computer.

What is CAD/CAM
Computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) is used to design and manufacture jewellery prototypes. It is a two-phase process.

CAD is the software tool that enables the perfect simulation of an artist’s image. It involves creating a three-dimensional model or a virtual solid. Rhino, Matrix, ArtCam, RhinoGold, and Solidworks are 3-D modelling software used by the jewellery industry. A 3-D model is beneficial as it can be rotated and manipulated onscreen and examined from any angle — including the inside, the top or the sides. CAD software can alter the design with minimum effort and even estimate the weight of the jewellery piece before being manufactured. Different CAD systems are devoted to different design and modelling types, such as Polygonal modelling, Surface modelling, Solid-parametric modelling and Hybrid modelling.

Once the virtual model is completed to the designer’s satisfaction, a screenshot from the .STL or .3DM file with digital renders is sent to create a physical prototype of the jewellery. This second phase involves CAM, which is a computer-directed and controlled production activity. The main objectives of CAM include - automatic diagnostics of the production process, product quality analysis, collection, organization and recording of data on process stages and work progress and production control. CAM denotes the programmes used to implement CAD geometries and for the subsequent machining in numerical control systems. CAM uses software programmes and machinery to manufacture 3D wax models to represent the final product.

CAD and CAM services go hand-in-hand. Typically, the CAD software creates a digital layout of a piece of jewellery and the CAM software/growing machines generate a prototype of the final product. Today CAD/CAM is the most used tool by jewellers worldwide.

Advantages of CAD/CAM

CAD/CAM technologies are prevalent in jewellery factories worldwide. While few have CAD/CAM designers in-house, others employ new specialized design companies to give substantial advantages in cost and time required for making a model. Here are a few advantages of using CAD/CAM: -

1. A model can be redesigned several times to create literally endless variations on a theme. CAD files can be copied, changed and saved multiple times.
2. CAD/CAM make it easier to rearrange or alter the proportions, dimensions, shapes, and colors.
3. CAD software can work alongside high-tech rendering software such as V-Ray, Brazil and Maxwell to produce photorealistic jewellery images.
4. CAD can maintain an inventory of designs.
5. CAD images can be effective in marketing and sales. While jewellery drawings are two dimensions, CAD can include the third dimension for customers to gauge their designs.
6. CAD/CAM process allows complex custom design.
7. With CAD/CAM producing mirror copies, especially in the manufacture of earrings, becomes faster and precise.
8. When a jewellery manufacturer/exporter creates a new set of jewellery for the market, often it requires size variants to include small, medium, and large. While a model maker would have to make the same model three times, each in the different dimensions CAD/CAM designing can scale up or down model parameters to obtain all the required size variants.
9. Fretwork is another advantage offered by CAD/CAM designing. For example, a model maker may take several hours to carve a design. But with CAD/CAM, the time required is much shorter and the final result is accurate to a hundredth of a millimetre.
10. CAD/CAM creates continuous processes and minimizes throughput times for maximum process reliability without manufacturing the jewellery in precious metal.

Conclusion

CAD/CAM is not a substitute for traditional techniques but a complementary technique. It helps jewellery manufacturers to carry out some operations more rapidly and more accurately than manual design.
CAD/CAM brings together the world of creativity and the world of production. These worlds integrate to achieve an aesthetic and technically high-quality end product. So, select the technology that best fits your need to get a strategic hold on design and manufacturing.