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Delcam diamond beads
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Delcam jewellery renders
Correction: TCT Magazine would like to inform readers of an error in the print version of this feature published in the November 2013 issue. The company name is Delcam, not Declam. TCT Magazine apologises for this oversight.
TCT Magazine paid CAD/CAM and 3D technology specialist Delcam a visit to talk about the jewellery industry, the software it develops and how 3D technology has improved the way the industry works.
Much of the UK's additive manufacturing industry is nucleated in the West Midlands with Delcam right at the heart of the action - not least when it comes to the jewellery industry. Workshops and designers throughout Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter are au fait with the company's offerings, with programs such as ArtCAM JewelSmith being adopted by everybody from students and hobbyists to professionals throughout the industry.
ArtCAM JewelSmith Product Manager David Stokes was keen to unveil the work that goes on behind the scenes at Delcam to perfect this tailored-for-the-industry software and what plans the software developers have for the future.
"We started working on our jewellery software in 2001. We wrote the software specifically for the industry based on our existing ArtCAM system for more general creative applications. With Delcam, no matter which version of ArtCAM you learn how to use, you can diversify into different industries. ArtCAM JewelSmith, however, is specifically designed for the jewellery industry," he said.
Saving jewellery designers time
ArtCAM Marketing Manager Rebecca Freemantle added that Delcam recognised there were things that could be done to improve a jeweller's workflow, which is why ArtCAM JewelSmith comes with handy features such as the components library allowing items like rings and pendants to be created more easily, while there is also a range of pre-created shanks, setting and gems to choose from.
"This saves designers from having to model the initial part of the design from scratch," she said.
The company - which has more than 800 staff and 350 overseas sales offices - puts its ArtCAM JewelSmith software in the same "artistic applications" category as sign embossing, coinage and producing chocolate moulds. TCT Magazine was shown some pleasing examples of the myriad everyday objects such as Easter eggs, commemorative coins and even lunch boxes that have been created thanks to Delcam software's ability to take a design and bring it to life in 3D on a surface.
In addition to developing the creative software allowing designers to lift their ideas off the page, Delcam offers training for its ArtCAM JewelSmith program, with 700-800 people attending its users' group training events every year from Europe and Russia to as far afield as North America and the Far East.
Stokes demonstrated the power of ArtCAM JewelSmith with a video visualising the once-impossible shapes that can now be 3D-printed thanks to Delcam's 3D technology.
"ArtCAM is really about playing with relief artwork, as it allows us to take elements of the design and morph and shape it," Stokes said. "A lot of designers want to play with their design and this software allows them to do that."
Among Delcam's ArtCAM customers are Hallmark, Stephen Webster and Monnaie de Paris, while the technology is widely used in teaching jewellery design to students. One of its intricate features is the embossing tool that takes a piece of 2D artwork and converts it into a relief according to the designer's specifications, revolutionising what was once a very time- consuming and labour-intensive task for jewellery designers. Stokes said: "This would take forever in the old days, but now it takes minutes."
"Fantastic and diverse work"
The quality of the rendered images, he added, also makes the life of a jewellery designer that bit easier. "For rendering a design in ArtCAM JewelSmith, you drag it into KeyShot and it allows you in a drag-and-drop way to change the look of your design as a render, allowing for trial and error without cost and time. It takes only minutes to finish a photo render and then it's sent for rapid prototyping."
CAD/CAM software is a serious investment for any designer and this is something Delcam has taken into account with its lease scheme for ArtCAM JewelSmith.
Stokes explained that the ArtCAM 25 Lease option gives designers more financial flexibility. ArtCAM JewelSmith Designer, which is a design-only version of ArtCAM JewelSmith, is accessed via the cloud for £25 per week and as part of the package the user receives a free model token per rental fee from the Delcam Rapid Prototyping Bureau.
"It's a really good idea for students or for those trying out the technology," Stokes said.
Freemantle said she believes ArtCAM has the edge over other products on the market because of the features that are not available in other CAD packages, such as the freedom to work on multiple relief layers and the ability to create realistic renders with KeyShot and the ability to use the software with Delcam Designer to give jewellers "total freedom".
"We love seeing how ArtCAM JewelSmith is used and the variety of designs that are produced," she remarked. "You only have to look on the gallery or the case-study page on the ArtCAM JewelSmith website to see some of the fantastic and diverse work that our customers are making.
"Stephen Webster has had celebrities such as Christina Aguilera, Kate Moss and Rihanna wear its jewellery, TCJ Designs won a design award from the Tanzanite foundation, Howard Bros have created medals of honour for the Kingdom of Bhutan, and money made with ArtCAM passes through peoples' hands every day... it is incredible!"