What is CAD?
CAD is Computer Aided Design.
Designing with CAD can help you develop and adapt your design work with ease and be used as part of quick, repetitive production methods.
In simple terms CAD is the process of creating a 3D design on a computer (Computer Aided Design) instead of a creating a 2D drawing by hand on paper.
Specialist computer software such as Simply Rhino, has a programme specially created for the needs of jewellers. The cost of the CAD software you choose depends on the production outcome you require for your work.
Designing with this type of software produces a design file (STL) which can also be used create a master model that can be used to cast repeated replicas of the original physical model/design. This process is referred to as Rapid Prototyping.
The CAD design file is converted by 3D printing equipment into a first stage model, this process is called CAM (Computer Aided Manufacture). The model is created from very fine horizontal layers of the printing material are layered (added) on top of one another in a pattern instructed by your design file until a physical 3D model of your original design has been formed.
The model generated from this process is usually a form of resin or similar material, which can be converted into a metal master model by the process of Casting if required, this type of automated model making is called Additive Manufacturing.
The Additive Manufacturing Process
CAD Design File > 3D Printer (CAM) > resin model > metal master model > casting > finish & polish > hallmark > retail
It should be noted that although CAD can speed up the design and production process, a jeweller will still need to use hand-skills to clean-up and refine a metal master model after the casting process, to remove burrs or sprues. After the casting process the jeweller will also need to finish and polish each cast piece of jewellery to a high standard to make ready for sale.