You hear it all the time in the jewelry industry: Pencil-sketched renderings, hand-carved models, and pain-staking repair work are going the way of the dinosaur. Jewelry designers and manufacturers today are embracing technology to streamline their operations and increase quality. Designs are created quickly and accurately in CAD and output to a CNC mill or rapid prototyping (RP) system for speedy model generation. Delicate repairs near heat-sensitive gemstones that used to require stone removal and traditional soldering are now accomplished with a few blasts of a laser welder.
That’s the type of thing you’re used to reading in trade publications and hearing at trade shows. But is it really happening? Are jewelry designers and manufacturers embracing CAD/CAM and laser welders with the gusto you’d ex-pect, given all the hype in the trade? We wanted to find out.
The following results from a survey of MJSA Journal readers and MJSA members gives some real-world perspective on who’s jumping on the technology bandwagon. The survey, which was conducted by Crescendo Consulting Group in Portland, Maine, asked respondents to answer questions about CAD/CAM and laser welder use. The data presented here was gathered exclusively for MJSA, with the aim of getting a pulse on how these technologies have im-pacted the jewelry industry.
To put the survey findings into perspective, we contacted experts David Olson and Bob Staley to discuss the data. Olson, a business development consultant from Newport Beach, California, has 26 years of experience using, selling, and marketing CAD/CAM systems. Staley, from Cartersville, Georgia, is a goldsmith and longtime laser trainer for jewelry applications. Both experts, who have been involved with the respective technologies since CAD/CAM and lasers were first introduced into the industry, provide historical and practical context for the survey’s results.