Introduction to Jewellery
I will explain how production techniques developed
in fields quite different from goldsmithing
can be adapted perfectly to jewellery manufacture.
In this presentation, the following topics are
- what is CAD/CAM
- what opportunities this new technology can
offer to jewellery factories
- when use of CAD/CAM can be profitable
- how can CAD/CAM be utilized to the best
At the threshold of the new century, technology
can offer substantial support to all the activities
of the goldsmith. Particularly in recent years,
much research work has been carried out in the
field of jewellery production and new sophisticated
technology for jewellery manufacturing has been
developed. Unhappily, the goldsmith does not
always readily accept new technology. To give
an example, investment casting was introduced
in the late 1940s, but it was not accepted by
the industry until the late fifties. Ten years
elapsed before it was used in factories.
Consequently, in spite of active research work
for end product quality improvement, there are
some production steps that seem unaffected by
the lapse of time. In particular, there is a
step in the production process where, even today,
the goldsmith is still unwilling to accept new
technology. This step is design or, more precisely,
the intercommunication between the designer
and the goldsmith - that is, between creativity
and practical realization. It has always been
believed that a compromise between aesthetic
and production technology requirements is difficult
to reach, but this has not actually been true
for a long while, a statement proved by many
examples of industrial design, such as Pininfarina
design for the automotive industry. These demonstrate
how creativity and imagination can perfectly
be harmonized with computer calculations.
The instrument enabling this small miracle is
named CAD/CAM. These acronyms denote all systems
that assist design (CAD = Computer Aided Design)
and manufacturing (CAM = Computer Aided Manufacturing)
through a computer.
What is CAD/CAM?
Let us first analyze design. Traditionally,
CAD denotes programs that replace the pencil
and assist the designer in the representation
of his ideas. These programs aid in the achievement
of a quick development of the design and allow
an immediate control. Moreover, they enable
the transmission of the designed geometric patterns
to other programs for machining. I have said
“traditionally”, because unceasing
evolution has somewhat changed the original
characteristics of these systems. Initially,
this software was mainly used for mechanical
design. Later they underwent a true transformation
and gave birth to two distinct branches:
The first one led to the development of programs
named CAE (Computer Aided Engineering), and
The second one led to CAID (Computer Aided Industrial
Design), both softwares for model development
and study of style.
The programs of the first kind are of a more
technical in nature. CAID programs don’t
require operations like dimensioning and patterning
and give more emphasis to the creative phase.
They enable a perfect simulation of the reality
and give immediate concreteness to ideas.
Consequently, different kinds of CAD systems
have been developed that are devoted to different
design and modelling types, such as:
• Polygonal modelling
• Surface modelling
• Solid-parametric modelling
• Hybrid modelling.
Let us briefly describe the above types :
Polygonal modelling : This is the most common CAD modeling software:
all models are created as a combination of small
squares and triangles.
Surface modelling : This CAD software shapes the surface, ie. the
“skin” of the designed object, and
enables the achievement of very complex shapes.
Solid parametric modelling : This software is based on the geometric parameters
defining the object. The ability to modify the
design whilst keeping some parameters constant
is typical of this kind of modelling.
Hybrid modelling : These are CAD systems that combine surface and
solid modelling, and enable the creation of
complex patterns, starting from simple models.
These classifications do not have a commercial
purpose, like classifying the products from
different software houses; each type denotes
a specialization, with a completely different
approach to design, and has advantages and drawbacks.