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Peter Bakker, Bakker Diamonds
Peter Bakker, Bakker Diamonds

Free storage ain’t what it used to be

Many manufacturing jewellers like me use CAD/casting companies to create professional designs and moulds for our jewellery.

One of the companies I had been using for the past few years was among the better ones – or so I thought.

You see, I’d been sending them hundreds of my designs, hand-drawn sketches, for them to create CAD drawings, generally for
one-off orders. They would store the files on their computer system for when I wanted to access them again to tweak, adjust or whatever.

Once approved, the designs were printed and cast in the alloy I specified.

For a time, the company and I worked well together. That is, until I wanted some of my files back to tweak a little.

They wanted to charge me $40-$60 to locate each file from their archive and send them back. Let’s not forget, these are my designs. On my calculations, at that price it would cost me about $20,000 to get the company to locate my library of files and send them to me.

And, like I said, (and they’ve always agreed), they’re my files.

To me, this is like creating a unique cake recipe, of which you’re extremely proud. You test it out on a few friends who tell you it’s the best cake they’ve tasted and you should make them commercially available.

But you don’t have the facilities to increase your production by that quantity, so you ask the local commercial baker where you buy your ingredients if he could make a batch large enough to fill all your orders and future orders (your fruit cake has a long shelf life).

He’s a good bloke and agrees wholeheartedly. Next week as you collect the nicely decorated, packaged cakes he hands you the bill. But there’s an additional charge if you want your recipe back. A hefty charge! Well, of course you want your recipe back. It’s yours.

But the baker says he had to retype your recipe and store it in his kitchen in case you want another batch of cakes again. And, he says, no one stores things for free.

Now, in my opinion, no bakery would do that to a regular customer, or even a new one.

So, why did this CAD company want to sting me with this additional charge? I can only assume it was to discourage me from taking my files to another company. Why not just offer great customer service so I wouldn’t be tempted? I wasn’t even using them exclusively, anyway!

Well, when I asked them, part of their explanation was, “it costs money to store these things on computers, you know …”

That’s strange because I can buy a 4TB hard drive (that would store 680 of my average-size files) for $179. That’s less than 27 cents per file.

Not what I would call expensive.

What’s more, another CAD/casting company I often use was more than happy to transfer the hundreds of files I held on their computers onto a USB stick I sent to them … for free.

I had always (wrongly) assumed that the price I paid all CAD/casting companies for their services up front included ownership, file storage and retrieval of the actual CAD file for my exclusive use.

It’s a shame because up until now I had really enjoyed working with both companies but I’ll only be using one of them from now on.

My advice to manufacturing jewellers venturing into CAD/casting territory – before you commit, check the fine print.

Ask the company, “do I have free access to the actual JCAD/rhino-type file and are there any future costs surrounding the management or storage of my CAD files?”

Should they suggest there’s a fee, decide if the cost is greater than the risk of storing them yourself.

If the CAD/casting company’s fees are reasonable, ask if they are subject to rising without notice.

But if you’re not happy with the price, simply request that with every completed design the company sends you the original CAD file via email for you to store. I believe most companies will happily oblige.

If not, do what I did and shop around for a company that appreciates your business. It’s a piece of cake.

Peter Bakker, Bakker Diamonds


Sunday, 29 March, 2020 04:09pm
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