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Articles from CAD / CAM SERVICES (60 Articles), CAD / CAM EQUIPMENT (50 Articles)

Could digitised manufacturing reignite the industry as a new wave of tech savvy customers look for bespoke design? Consumers have changed, shopping has changed, the  world has changed, the question is: are you changing?
Could digitised manufacturing reignite the industry as a new wave of tech savvy customers look for bespoke design? Consumers have changed, shopping has changed, the world has changed, the question is: are you changing?
 










The peaceful revolution

The CAD/CAM revolution is happening. It may be quiet and peaceful, but it is changing the industry and, as Coleby Nicholson discovered, the upheaval has only just begun.
LST 3Design
LST 3Design

The jewellery industry has been a latecomer to many of the significant changes that have affected other retail categories. That’s not a bad thing; it’s simply a truism.

For example, when technology and the internet began to have a major impact on numerous retail categories, jewellery remained largely unaffected. Or consider the fact that when the whole world was moving towards branded goods and services, again the jewellery industry was slow to catch on.

It’s not that the industry resisted these changes; it’s just that most businesses didn’t need to deal with them because they took longer to filter down to local jewellery stores. The same can be said for jewellery design and manufacture which has also remained largely unchanged for decades, at least at the local custom-made level of the store dealing directly with the consumer.

While computer design and manufacture transformed most industries decades ago to the extent that virtually none of the “old ways” exist today, it’s a different story for the jewellery industry. CAD/CAM jewellery design has really only gained a major foothold in the last few years; when Jeweller published its first CAD/CAM report in June 2012, many in the industry were still debating the benefits of the technology.

A great deal has changed since the report two years ago; not only has there been huge advances in hardware and software – many jewellers have also changed their views, no longer seeing CAD/CAM as a threat to their trade.

“Ten years ago CAD/CAM was a novelty, however, today it’s an established technology that more and more jewellers are embracing,” says Justin Elsey, managing director Rapid Prototyping Services.

“Powerful jewellery design software packages and high-resolution 3D printers are now very affordable and jewellers are recognising that by including CAD/CAM in their toolbox they can be more productive and create complex, high-value custom pieces,” he adds.

Darren Sher, director Chemgold, agrees. “In most cases, jewellers no longer see CAD/CAM as a threat and have come to value it as a helpful tool. Handmade jewellery will and should always be available, but with CAD/CAM there are endless possibilities,” he says.

Craig Long, managing director Facet RP, believes that while there are a lot of old school jewellers who fear change, the perceived threat of CAD/CAM will fade as the new generation of jewellers comes up through the trade.

“Generally, most jewellers are now more accepting of CAD/CAM and realise it’s here to stay, but there are still some jewellers that think it’s the work of the devil and I believe those thoughts will perpetuate for some time,” he explains.

Long draws a simple analogy: “CAD/CAM is just a tool to make jewellery a lot easier. Years ago, jewellers used an Archimedes drill to drill holes, then the flexible drive was born and it changed the industry. Sound familiar?”

John Cavallo - House Of Stratton
John Cavallo - House Of Stratton

The jewellery industry has been a latecomer to many of the significant changes that have affected other retail categories. That’s not a bad thing; it’s simply a truism.

For example, when technology and the internet began to have a major impact on numerous retail categories, jewellery remained largely unaffected. Or consider the fact that when the whole world was moving towards branded goods and services, again the jewellery industry was slow to catch on.

It’s not that the industry resisted these changes; it’s just that most businesses didn’t need to deal with them because they took longer to filter down to local jewellery stores. The same can be said for jewellery design and manufacture which has also remained largely unchanged for decades, at least at the local custom-made level of the store dealing directly with the consumer.

While computer design and manufacture transformed most industries decades ago to the extent that virtually none of the “old ways” exist today, it’s a different story for the jewellery industry. CAD/CAM jewellery design has really only gained a major foothold in the last few years; when Jeweller published its first CAD/CAM report in June 2012, many in the industry were still debating the benefits of the technology.

A great deal has changed since the report two years ago; not only has there been huge advances in hardware and software – many jewellers have also changed their views, no longer seeing CAD/CAM as a threat to their trade.

“Ten years ago CAD/CAM was a novelty, however, today it’s an established technology that more and more jewellers are embracing,” says Justin Elsey, managing director Rapid Prototyping Services.

“Powerful jewellery design software packages and high-resolution 3D printers are now very affordable and jewellers are recognising that by including CAD/CAM in their toolbox they can be more productive and create complex, high-value custom pieces,” he adds.

Darren Sher, director Chemgold, agrees. “In most cases, jewellers no longer see CAD/CAM as a threat and have come to value it as a helpful tool. Handmade jewellery will and should always be available, but with CAD/CAM there are endless possibilities,” he says.

Craig Long, managing director Facet RP, believes that while there are a lot of old school jewellers who fear change, the perceived threat of CAD/CAM will fade as the new generation of jewellers comes up through the trade.

“Generally, most jewellers are now more accepting of CAD/CAM and realise it’s here to stay, but there are still some jewellers that think it’s the work of the devil and I believe those thoughts will perpetuate for some time,” he explains.

Long draws a simple analogy: “CAD/CAM is just a tool to make jewellery a lot easier. Years ago, jewellers used an Archimedes drill to drill holes, then the flexible drive was born and it changed the industry. Sound familiar?”

Tok Bros
Tok Bros
Francois Hoy - Rhinogold
Francois Hoy - Rhinogold

Still room for the ‘old ways’
Someone who has been a vanguard of jewellery CAD/CAM is Anthony Nowlan. He explains that when he first began exhibiting new technology to the trade almost a decade ago, many jewellers were fascinated by it, yet struggled with the idea of implementing it into their day-to-day business.

A lot has changed for Nowlan’s business, Evolution Jewellers – so much so that he says he’s heartened that jewellers are increasingly considering the benefits of CAD/CAM in jewellery.

“This is encouraging, not only to myself but also the trade. The belief that utilising CAD/CAM will produce an inferior product or that ‘real jewellers don’t use computers’ is slowly but surely dissolving, to be replaced with smarter and more well-equipped jewellers who are able to meet the general public’s expectations when it comes to customised jewellery.”

The most interesting thing about the jewellery industry – something that is often lost on die-hard traditionalists – is that there’s still room and demand for quality hand-making as a craft. Unlike most other retail categories where the “old ways” have all but disappeared – think your local tailor or shoemaker – there is still high demand for uniquely designed, handmade jewellery.

”There will always be a proportion of jewellers who will predominately hand-make their jewellery; this creates a point of difference and that’s a good thing,” says Rik Juod, director of CAD Jewelry School.

He points to the advancements in software ease-of-use and says, “Around four to five years ago CAD software was more difficult to learn, so only the very technically minded or computer literate jewellers were those enthusiastic enough to take it up. However, most universities and TAFEs now include CAD subjects as part of their curriculum, so we are seeing more young jewellers incorporating CAD in their work practices.”

As with any substantial change, there are the early adopters and those who are late to the game. In this case, Chris Hill adds somewhat ironically, “Those that see CAD/CAM as a threat may find themselves working for those that do not. CAD/CAM is a tool that can produce objects on a small scale that would otherwise not be feasible through traditional methods.”

Hill’s business, Laser & Sign Technology (LST), began distributing computerised engraving machines in the early 1980s, and he believes CAD/CAM is moving along in leaps and bounds with early adopters now reaping the benefits.

“Those that wait too long to implement the technology will have a much steeper learning curve and require more investment to catch up,” he says.

The best of both worlds
Perhaps Abraham Tok is a good example of those who have cautiously moved to the “other side” to embrace CAD/CAM as another tool. The managing director of Tok Brothers says he too was unconvinced at first about the need for advanced technology in jewellery manufacturing, especially when it came to handmade, customised pieces.

“At first we were sceptical and uncertain about the position of CAD/CAM in the trade. However, after testing it out, seeing the results and realising the potential, it became very clear that CAD/CAM is here to stay,” he says.

Tok says a jeweller can have the best of both worlds. “Clients can now benefit from a combination of ancient design and manufacturing techniques and modern technology. CAD/CAM allows jewellers to produce much more precise jewellery with faster turnaround times.”

Indeed, when it comes to the local jeweller, finding a niche is not an either/or choice; there is actually a need for both handmade and computerised capability.  Andrew Cochineas, managing director Palloys Group, is a firm believer that there will always be room and demand for traditional techniques, pointing out that this is why companies like AGS Metals|PJW are still in the business of supplying plate, wire and solders to jewellers around Australia.

Palloys is the casting and CAD/CAM division of the group, and Cochineas is adamant that the rise of CAD in jewellery production does not “signal the death knell” for the handmade jeweller.

“I think the consensus seems to be that CAD technology is not a threat to the traditional jeweller, it’s merely another tool they can use to produce the best jewellery in the most cost-effective and labour-saving way.

“Much like in the fine art world, artists, trophy producers, movie studios, furniture makers, antique restorers, industrial designers, engineering companies and jewellers have come to realise that integrity lies in design and consumer interaction, not simply manufacture,” Cochineas says.

Elsey stresses that CAD/CAM isn’t necessarily the solution to every problem but it’s a resource that  jewellers can no longer ignore. He also points to other non-design benefits provided by the technology, including inventory issues.

“CAD/CAM makes it feasible to maintain digital ranges and to manufacture on demand, which means jewellers can be more responsive to consumer trends while holding less stock. Casting companies like Rapid need to be ready to support these opportunities,” Elsey explains.

It’s an important point because people often expect too much of technology.

David Gabriel, managing director Lenrose, is another who believes that jewellers no longer see CAD/CAM as a threat, however, he cautions against the belief that it’s the answer to everything when it’s just like any other tool. “Some jewellers think that because it’s CAD you just wiggle your nose and out it pops.” Gabriel says that while almost anything can be drawn and printed on CAD – which is the beauty of the technology – the biggest challenge is what can be physically cast.

“As casters, we see people who are over excited about CAD and they think they can do anything. When it doesn’t form, or doesn’t work to how they think it’s going to work, they don’t understand there are limitations to what can be done in CAD, simply because logically there are limitations to what can be cast,” he explains.

Opportunities go global
Gabriel adds that most jewellers have come to realise that they’ve only got two hands and that “they can only do as many jobs as their hands can handle”.

“If they can use CAD/CAM to get a piece to look almost like they want it to look, and then give it their own finishing touches by hand, then it’s a no brainer because they can increase their production,” he explains.

CAD/CAM’s acceptance by jewellers has changed across the Tasman too. House of Stratton, established in 1929, is said to be the oldest jewellery manufacturer in New Zealand. Even through its long-standing history, the company has embraced CAD/CAM technology as part of the many changes it has seen through the decades.

“I definitely say the jewellery industry now embraces the new technology,” says managing director Allan Stratton. “At no time in the history of jewellery has there been such a great tool for jewellers as CAD/CAM.”

Rather than bemoaning changes to the industry Stratton says, “Better CAD programs can bring more jobs, more choice and better communication with your customer, and at the same time allow you to sell your designs worldwide because other designers with the same program can also change any aspect of the pattern.”

Local suppliers stand arm-in-arm with these sentiments, indicating that the benefits of CAD/CAM should no longer require debate. And while some may be latecomers to the revolution, increasingly jewellers see the technology as a helpful addition to their toolbox – combining the good “old ways” with the good “new ways”. 

CAD/CAM Supplement - more reading
Part 2: Movers and shakers
Part 3: CAD/CAM comes full circle
 

Shukri Al-Husari - Palloys Group
Shukri Al-Husari - Palloys Group

Still room for the ‘old ways’
Someone who has been a vanguard of jewellery CAD/CAM is Anthony Nowlan. He explains that when he first began exhibiting new technology to the trade almost a decade ago, many jewellers were fascinated by it, yet struggled with the idea of implementing it into their day-to-day business.

A lot has changed for Nowlan’s business, Evolution Jewellers – so much so that he says he’s heartened that jewellers are increasingly considering the benefits of CAD/CAM in jewellery.

“This is encouraging, not only to myself but also the trade. The belief that utilising CAD/CAM will produce an inferior product or that ‘real jewellers don’t use computers’ is slowly but surely dissolving, to be replaced with smarter and more well-equipped jewellers who are able to meet the general public’s expectations when it comes to customised jewellery.”

The most interesting thing about the jewellery industry – something that is often lost on die-hard traditionalists – is that there’s still room and demand for quality hand-making as a craft. Unlike most other retail categories where the “old ways” have all but disappeared – think your local tailor or shoemaker – there is still high demand for uniquely designed, handmade jewellery.

”There will always be a proportion of jewellers who will predominately hand-make their jewellery; this creates a point of difference and that’s a good thing,” says Rik Juod, director of CAD Jewelry School.

He points to the advancements in software ease-of-use and says, “Around four to five years ago CAD software was more difficult to learn, so only the very technically minded or computer literate jewellers were those enthusiastic enough to take it up. However, most universities and TAFEs now include CAD subjects as part of their curriculum, so we are seeing more young jewellers incorporating CAD in their work practices.”

As with any substantial change, there are the early adopters and those who are late to the game. In this case, Chris Hill adds somewhat ironically, “Those that see CAD/CAM as a threat may find themselves working for those that do not. CAD/CAM is a tool that can produce objects on a small scale that would otherwise not be feasible through traditional methods.”

Hill’s business, Laser & Sign Technology (LST), began distributing computerised engraving machines in the early 1980s, and he believes CAD/CAM is moving along in leaps and bounds with early adopters now reaping the benefits.

“Those that wait too long to implement the technology will have a much steeper learning curve and require more investment to catch up,” he says.

The best of both worlds
Perhaps Abraham Tok is a good example of those who have cautiously moved to the “other side” to embrace CAD/CAM as another tool. The managing director of Tok Brothers says he too was unconvinced at first about the need for advanced technology in jewellery manufacturing, especially when it came to handmade, customised pieces.

“At first we were sceptical and uncertain about the position of CAD/CAM in the trade. However, after testing it out, seeing the results and realising the potential, it became very clear that CAD/CAM is here to stay,” he says.

Tok says a jeweller can have the best of both worlds. “Clients can now benefit from a combination of ancient design and manufacturing techniques and modern technology. CAD/CAM allows jewellers to produce much more precise jewellery with faster turnaround times.”

Indeed, when it comes to the local jeweller, finding a niche is not an either/or choice; there is actually a need for both handma










ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Coleby Nicholson • Managing Editor

Managing Editor • Jeweller Magazine


Coleby Nicholson is publisher and managing editor of Jeweller magazine. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than a decade and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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Wednesday, 18 September, 2019 12:43am
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