A New Design Tool at Mardon

May 20th, 2011 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG
3Design Class

3Design Class

I just completed 3 days of intensive training with our newest CAD software, 3Design by VisionNumeric. Jenny was able to train on 3Design in March, and she’s been able to produce some wonderful pieces with the new software. I had a medical issue and couldn’t take the training until now, so my skills will come later.

We chose to add 3Design to our palette of design tools for a number of reasons. Because 3Design was designed specifically as jewelry making software, it has important features dear to a jeweler’s heart, such as realistic rendition and automatic layout of gems, and a large library of standard parts to use in building jewelry. Our instructor, a jeweler with years of experience making jewelry, stressed that the process of designing in 3D CAD is basically like making jewelry in traditional ways– the tool is just different.

3Design images are viewed inĀ  three virtual dimensions and at high resolution, so we can see what we are making from all sides in real time–a big advantage in the creative process because we can instantly see what we like and don’t like in our design.

And it’s rendering capability is almost photographic–here’s my first rendering of a project from class. We can make these wonderful still images plus full 360 degree videos. This will allow our custom design clients to see what their new piece truly will look like before we make it!

First Rendering

First Rendering

3Design has an unique capability called a parametric tree, which keeps a history of the steps used in creating the design. Jewelry is constructed just like a house– we start with a plan or concept, often a sketch, then build a foundation and add all the parts in sequence, step by step. Floor, then walls, roof last. The tree allows the artist to go back into an early step and make changes that will be carried forward thru all the subsequent stages.

Finally, it’s truly cross platform software, which works well at Mardon because we use both Mac and Windows computers. Jenny designs a lot of our jewelry with ArtCam JewelSmith, our first CAD software, only available as Windows. I’ve used Mac computers since the early days of personal computers, so I much prefer the Mac way of doing work.

The learning curve is a bit steep for these complex software tools, so it will take a lot of practice to develop the skills and techniques this new tool offers, but we know it will be worth the effort. We will grow as artists and craftsmen and our customers will benefit from better jewelry at lower prices– what could be better?

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