CAD is the art of using a computer to produce a three dimensional design file
"Computer Aided Design"
Undertaking a 1-day course before you purchase CAD software is sensible.
Get one-to-one tuition with an experienced CAD Jeweller and check out if this is a viable design process for your work.
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Using CAD is the starting point if you wish to create a production run of your jewellery design.
Once a design file has been created you can call upon the services of a Rapid Prototyping Bureau such as Weston Beamor to create a physical model for you to easily repeat.
3D Printing & Jewellery
3D Printing is part of the jewellery production process, whereby a master model is created to be used in the Casting process.
The prodution of this model is created by technology which uses the principles of 3D printing. In the jewellery industry and other industries this is referred to as Additive Manufacturing.
A machine converts a design file into a physical item by adding layers and layers of material upon each other in the form required until a 3D item is formed.
The expertise of the CAD designer critical
Expertise is required to ensure the model created is suitable for the casting process and will create a useable viable piece of jewellery.
Haptic 3D Modelling
Haptic designing is a new technology that allows the designer to sculpt by feel using a special hand held devise linked to a computer.
This method of CAD designing also produces a design file suitable for 3D printing.
The design file generates a model usually in a type of resin, but other materials can sometimes be used depending on the capability of the 3D printer.
The metal master model can then be used to cast repeated replicas of the original physical model. This process is referred to as Rapid Prototyping.
Using a Haptic Device allows a greater freedom during the design process and can be used by designers, makers and applied artitists.
CAD Jewellery Design
In simple terms CAD is the process of creating a jewellery design on a computer instead of a creating a 2D drawing by hand on paper. It is used in a wide variety of manufacturing industries including Jewellery.
Specialist computer software for jewellers such as Rhino, will produce a STL design file which converts a design for use with 3D Printing machines or Milling machines. Jewellery design software can offers options for adding useful industry specific components into the design such as mounts and stones.
A design file can also be created by reverse designing which is the 3D scanning of an existing object to create a design file from which replica items can be manufactured.
The STL design file is used by a 3D printer or milling machine to create a physical model by laying down very fine horizontal layers of material on top of one another in the exact shape as per the design, until a 3D model of the complete design has been formed.
- This process is called Additive Manufacturing (or 3D Printing).
The model generated from this process is usually a form of polymer material or similar, which can be converted into a metal master model by the process of casting.
Metal Master Models
A metal master model can then be used to cast repeated replicas of the original physical model. This process is referred to as Rapid Prototyping.
Designing with CAD can help you develop and adapt your jewellery design work, quickly and reproduce your work exactly with ease.
It should be noted the finished cast product will still require finishing fit for retail, such as removal of casting sprues and polishing.
3D Printing Options
An explosion of 3D printing options has taken place over the last couple of years, creating high expectation from designers about the production capability of 3D printers.
For designers there are many and various tools you can choose from to get your design 3D printed.
See below for some examples of the software available for the three relevant areas of CAD tooling.
A: CAD tools largely based on using geometrical shapes to build models.
1. Professional software for the Jewellery Industry:
Simply Rhino 3D, (Widely in the Jewellery industry)
2. General design software
B: Freeform Modelling Tools
This type of software tool allows much greater freedom by allowing you to create and add freeform shapes/characters.
C: Sculpting Tools
These are often referred to as Haptic Modelling tools and the design experience is similar to using digital clay that you can push, pull, pinch and grab to form models by using a specially designed Haptic device mouse.
You can either buy software to design from and send your file to a 3D printing bureau to create the 3D model for you or you can invest in a 3D printer to produce your own model.
The quality and usability of your finished model or item depends entirely upon your skills as a designer, your understanding of the manufacturing process and the capabilites of the materials printed.
3D printing can be done in a variety of materials, however Sintering (3D printing in metal) is not usual for in home style 3Dprinters, this type of printing it is carried out a specialist direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) trade bureau's.