CAD/CAM for Jewelry

CAD and CAM are two distinct, but closely related, technologies. CAD is an acronym for Computer Aided Design, while CAM is an acronym for Computer Aided Manufacturing. Together CAD/CAM allows you to design a piece of jewelry using a computer (CAD) and create an exact model of that jewelry piece using a computer controlled manufacturing device (CAM). Following are some of the resources for more information on CAD/CAM and JewelCAD /CAM.  


The software that drives the CAM and rapid prototyping design process is rapidly changing. For the most part, the jewelry industry is not driving these changes; the changes are being driven by the automobile and aerospace industries. Needless to say, some of the software is much easier to use than others. Different sources of software currently exist for creating models for three-dimensional designs. Here are some of the softwares used in desinging jewelry:

  • Rhino3d
  • 3Design
  • JCad
  • Jewelcad
  • DelCAM
  • Matrix3D
  • ArtCAM

CAM - Rapid Prototyping Manchine

A rapid prottyping machine can automatically construct physical models from computer-aided design data. These machines are "3D printers" that allow designers to quickly create three-dimensional designs, rather than just two-dimensional pictures. There are several technologies available for rapid prototyping:

Numerically Controlled Milling Machines: Computer numerically controlled (CNC) milling machines have been around for a long time. Industry has used CNC milling machines for complex manufacturing of items like jet engines and car parts. From the jewelry perspective, the engraving industry has been the leader in CNC milling. Engravers have focused on developing software for making dies and stamps. By concentrating on coins, metals, and cameos, they mastered the use of very accurate milling in both wax and metals.

Stereolithography: The first method of rapid prototyping was called stereolithography. Stereolithography forms a model from a liquid, photosensitive polymer that solidifies when exposed to ultraviolet light.

Ink-Jet Printing: The first "ink-jet" rapid prototyping method was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where models were built for parts by spraying a binding agent on powdered material. The "ink" is actually a starch that binds to the powder. An ink-jet printing head selectively "prints" binder to fuse the powder together in the desired areas. Unbound powder remains to support the part. As the platform is lowered, more powder is added and leveled, and the process is repeated. When finished, the part can be removed from the unbound powder and then sintered.