Delcam's software used to produce "Jewels for the Home"
A decade ago, New York jewellery designer Jay Strongwater applied his artistry to home décor items in "Jewels for the Home,” a line of collectible jewelled picture frames. The metal frames featured delicate textures, warm colours, and sparkling highlights provided by Swarovski crystals. The range was later expanded to include decorative boxes, clocks, make-up compacts and figurines.
In 1996, he partnered with costume jewellery manufacturer Weingeroff Enterprises, Inc., from Cranston, Rhode Island. Weingeroff's staff of modelmakers and craftspeople employs its manufacturing expertise to produce his collectible art. Most Strongwater pieces are white metal castings made in rubber moulds using the spincasting method. The items are painted and finished by hand, and glass, ceramic and crystal details are added.
To facilitate the flow of new designs, Weingeroff takes advantage of Delcam software. "The majority of it still is handwork," said Weingeroff product design engineer Neal Jamnik, "but we needed software to create some of the very fancy textures and motifs.”
Mr. Jamnik said the CAD modelling packages Weingeroff initially used lacked the power to create complex surfaces and textures quickly. "In any solid modelling package, textures are hard to put in; the files get very large,” he said. "With ArtCAM, I can create textures quickly and the files are much smaller. I can then use PowerSHAPE’s embossing feature, which allows you to bring files directly from ArtCAM. Once brought into PowerSHAPE, they become part of the surface or solid model.”
For some pieces, SLA rapid prototypes are used as a basis for the rubber moulds. "PowerSHAPE can export surfaces as an SLA file. It is very powerful,” Mr. Jamnik said. Other rapid prototypes serve as pre-models, made to save manual modelmaking time. When an item’s basic shape would be very difficult and time consuming for a modelmaker to make by hand, the form can be created in the Delcam software and a rapid prototype made for the modelmaker to finish. "I did that for a big item recently,” Mr. Jamnik recalled. "I did the main outline of the whole piece, then the modelmaker finished it off.”