Computer-Aided Jewelry Manufacturing (CAM) by Qaife

What is Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM)?

CAM is short for computer-aided manufacturing and is a process where advanced awesome machines create a physical product. There are many ways to produce a product, prototype, or model, but in jewelry the two most famous are 3D printer and a CNC (computer numerical control) milling machine. Jewelry pieces are printed or milled out of a special castable wax and only then are cast in precious metals. Casting is a broad and complex topic and is covered in detail in our separate article, if you wish to read more on precious metals casting proceed by clicking this link.

What is the Difference between 3D Printing vs. CNC Milling?

CNC milling also known as subtractive (-) manufacturing is done by cutting and removing excess material from a solid piece until the desired shape remains. 3D printing on the other hand is additive (+) manufacturing and is done by building the design layer by layer until the object is fully printed. Commercial CNC milling is an older technology when compared to 3D printing and has many uses besides jewelry, but it is a lot harder to learn to control a CNC machine than it is to 3D print a model. If you know nothing about 3D printing it should not take you more than a day to print your first model, but that would not be the case with a CNC machine. For an advanced computer user and a quick learner it would probably take about a week to be able to CNC a simple design, then months of practice and dozens of broken cutting tools and pieces to actually learn the intricacies of milling. When it comes to details and quality, up until about 2014 commercially available 3D printers were not capable of printing good enough quality pieces to use in jewelry designs. Since then 3D printing has evolved significantly and today's prints come out with superb details and extreme design complexity.

What Machines We Use at Qaife?

Most jewelry designs today are printed on one of our in-house 3D printers. We have 5 different printers with different capabilities. There are limits though to the quality a 3D printer can produce and when it is reached we turn to our CNC machines. We have one 5-axis CNC machine which can mill extremely precise and intricate pieces and we also have two 3-axis machines which we mostly use for flat designs such as pendants and engravings.

How Much Does It Cost to 3D Print a Model in Castable Wax?

3D printing is a fairly inexpensive service and most jewelry pieces range between $40 to $100. Price is dependent on many factors with the most important being the size and complexity of the needed print. Although printing is not a very complicated process, it does take time to set up, print, cure (dry) and clean and prepare the product.

At Qaife we are happy to provide you with the following custom jewelry services:

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