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CAD/CAM in 2016: Rapid Casting

 

RAPID CASTING: BEN FARAGO Q&A

Strengths and unique selling points?
Rapid specialises in jewellery CAD/CAM and precision investment casting. We have an online real-time quoting and file ordering system so customers can upload CAD files, obtain instant quotes for wax printing and casting, and submit orders online. They can also re-order parts through a portfolio of their previous orders. Every part is barcode-tracked soall stages can be monitored online.

Our CAD artists are qualified jewellers so we speak the same language as our customers. Rapid is also the sales and support agent for Asiga 3D printing equipment in Australia.

What is the typical turnaround time?
A customer’s wax is completed overnight. For a CAD file to be printed and cast, we offer overnight print and overnight cast.

For designs to be CADed, printed and cast, it will take 2–5 days, depending on customer approval time and the complexity of the design.

What can affect this timing and how can customers help?
The biggest problems that arise from customer-supplied files are errors in the STL/SLC when they convert their CAD files. Our system picks these up and we can generally fix these before they go to print but such issues can cause delays.

The other problem with CAD is you can literally draw and print any geometry; however, unfortunately there are limits to what can be handled, sprued, invested and knocked-out after casting. Some parts require the addition of very complex support and sprue structures to get the design to a finished piece, which can take extra time.

What formats does your software accept?
Almost all printing technologies use STL or SLC files, so we prefer these, but we can convert most CAD file types if a client cannot supply these formats.

What assistance is there for designers to take their ideas from concept to creation?
Each customer can access an online design portal through their account that allows them to upload images and sketches, communicate directly with the designer and view design reviews.

Will you accept and work with client supplied resin/wax models?
We accept CAD/CAM outputs from all 3D printers. If there is a material we haven’t worked with before we ask customers to send extra parts to see how they burn out.

If a part doesn’t work we reprint it in-house on one of our machines. We accept injected waxes and rubber moulds, and also stock specialty investments that allow us to cast obscure polymers. We are always willing to try new things for our customers.

With the advent of new printers can you work with a client to establish the correct casting procedures for their particular model?
We are always happy to work with customers to get their design to finished casting – whether that involves obscure materials or elaborate and hard-to-cast geometries.

Is the customer’s model secure, or can it be resold to, or be reused by, other clients?
As CAD/CAM specialists, we deal with new designs every day. Protection of our customers’ intellectual property is paramount. All designs are drawn from scratch for each customer and all designs belong exclusively to that customer.

Given we also deal with a lot of industrial companies we have a standard NDA on our website that clients can use. Clients can also choose to supply their own.

Do you have a return policy for porous or incomplete products?
We guarantee all castings and have an open return policy. This means customers can return any item for a full refund or recast if they aren’t happy with the results – even if there is simply a change in design. Nobody plans for such events but they can happen and we are here to support our customers.

Do you have print-only services so clients can cast themselves?
We do offer print-only services. We have wax printing for clients who do their own casting or we can print in plastic if a client wants to verify a design or use it to help their customer visualise the finished piece.

Do you offer in-house completion of a product for non-bench jeweller CAD designers?
We do not offer any finishing as we don’t have a full jewellery workshop in-house.

We believe that because of the more complex nature of CAD design, the pieces we cast deserve more than a clean-up in ‘some’ tumblers, which will more often than not remove a lot of fine detail from a piece. We generally refer designers to jewellers or manufacturers to finish their parts.

In what ways has CAD/CAM changed the wider jewellery industry in the past two years?
Ten years ago CAD/CAM was almost a novelty. Today it’s an established technology that every jeweller needs to understand to remain competitive.

It is now feasible to maintain digital ranges and to manufacture on demand. This approach allows jewellers to be more responsive to trends and hold less stock. Casting companies like Rapid need to be ready to support these opportunities. CAD/CAM isn’t necessarily the solution to every problem but it is becoming a very important tool.

How is CAD/CAM likely to further evolve in your business?
In a sense CAD/CAM doesn’t evolve within our business; our business evolves around the advancements in CAD/CAM technology and the growing demand for it within the jewellery trade. We started in additive manufacturing as a CAD/CAM jewellery specialist 10 years ago and introduced other technical services around this. With new improvements in CAD/CAM, jewellers are creating more complex designs and pushing the boundaries of physical manufacture. Our daily goal is to help jewellers realise the full potential of CAD/CAM technology.

 

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Wednesday, 17 July, 2019 11:10am
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